Sunday 22 October 2017

Bomber's death prompts call for Lockerbie inquiry

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi. Photo: Getty Images
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi. Photo: Getty Images

Auslan Cramb in London

RELATIONS of some of the Lockerbie bombing victims have called for a public inquiry after the death of the only man convicted of the atrocity.

Many of the families claim Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who was 60, would be posthumously cleared of any involvement in the worst terrorist attack in the UK. They want his appeal to be reopened and said any inquiry may have to be held outside Scotland, to avoid the "tentacles" of the prosecution service.

However, British Prime Minister David Cameron rejected any such move last night, insisting there had been a "proper process", and adding: "This has been thoroughly gone through. I'm very clear that the court case was properly done and properly dealt with."

Mr Cameron said Megrahi, who was sent back to Libya on August 20, 2009, on the basis that he was dying of prostate cancer and had three months to live, should have served out his days in a Scottish prison.

"Today is a day to remember the 270 people who lost their lives in what was an appalling terrorist act. Our thoughts should be with them and their families for the suffering they've had." News of Megrahi's death came from his brother Abdulhakim. His funeral will be held at Tripoli's main cemetery today.

To the fury of American relations of victims, the Libyan returned home to a hero's welcome in 2009 and spent more than 1,000 days with his family, after serving just eight years of his 27-year sentence.

Megrahi was convicted of murdering 270 people, including 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, on December 21, 1988. Critics of his release claimed he was freed after Tony Blair met Colonel Gaddafi in 2007 to discuss British oil deals with Libya, and not because of his illness.

Scapegoat

Charles Schumer, a US senator, yesterday said the Scottish Executive was wrong to allow him to "die a free man" after what "smelled of a deal for oil". However, Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, said he was released on compassionate grounds alone.

While US relatives were convinced of Megrahi's guilt, many British relatives concluded after the Lockerbie trial in 2001 that the wrong man was jailed.

Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter, Flora, said it was a sad day, and called for a public inquiry.

"I have been satisfied for some years that this man was nothing to do with the death of my daughter. Perhaps we can concentrate now on trying to find who did murder my daughter. I think the verdict will be overturned, there is sufficient information to make it untenable."

Dr Swire said Megrahi's family or the victims' families could ask for the appeal to be re-opened, suggesting any inquiry may have to be held outside Scotland "because the tentacles of the Scottish prosecution service spread very wide".

Megrahi's brother Abdulhakim defended him yesterday, saying he was a "scapegoat" for the old Libyan regime. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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