US steps up pressure over Lockerbie release
THE United States yesterday stepped up pressure on the Scottish and Britain governments over last year's release of the Lockerbie bomber, claiming that there was still a "cloud of suspicion" over the decision.
Senator Robert Menendez, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is investigating the release of Abdelbasset al-Megrahi, called on Britain to hold an independent inquiry.
Megrahi was returned to Libya on compassionate grounds a year ago after he was diagnosed with cancer and given three months to live.
Mr Menendez said: "We continue to believe that an independent investigation in the UK would provide incredibly valuable new information and we have asked the British and Scottish governments again to begin that process."
He said he had written to Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, laying out the areas where "questions linger".
In the letter, Mr Menendez and three other senators cited what they claimed was evidence of five occasions in which commercial pressures were put on Scotland to release Megrahi, who was convicted of the 1988 bombing of PanAm Flight 103.
"A mass murderer tasting freedom, experiencing joy, was a scene that made the stomach turn, that made old wounds fresh again in the hearts of those whose family members died at the hands of this man," Mr Menendez said.
"And although this scene, this entire turn of events was met with anger and frustration in our country and in many other countries around the world, Scottish officials invoked their legal right to take this action allegedly because Megrahi had but three months to live. Well, here we are one year later. Megrahi, a convicted mass murderer, still very much alive, very much free, living in the lap of luxury by all accounts.
"Doctors who examined him in prison now say he could live for another decade or more." (© Daily Telegraph, London)