A Swedish newspaper has quoted one of Libya’s former ministers as saying he had proof that leader Muammar Gaddafi ordered the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988.
“I have evidence that Gaddafi ordered the Lockerbie attack,” former Libyan justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abdel-Jalil told the Swedish newspaper Expressen Wednesday.
Abdel-Jalil reportedly said that Gaddafi gave orders directly to Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the bombing.
“To hide this, he did everything in his power to get Megrahi back from Scotland,” the paper quoted Abdel-Jalil as saying.
In 2009, al-Megrahi, who is still alive, was released and returned to Libya on the grounds that he would soon die of prostate cancer.
Last last year, leaked US State Department cables showed that al-Megrahi was released following threats to British business interest.
Libyan officials warned that “consequences for the UK-Libya bilateral relationship would be ‘dire’ were al-Megrahi to die in Scottish prison,” one leaked cable noted. “Specific threats have included the immediate cessation of all UK commercial activity in Libya, a diminishment or severing of political ties and demonstrations against official UK facilities.”
In addition, General Gaddifi’s son “linked Megrahi’s release to UK business contracts, asserting that Megrahi’s case was raised during all negotiations of UK-Libya commercial, oil, and gas deals.”
After US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced some support for an investigation into BP’s role in the release of al-Megrahi, the oil firm admitted it had lobbied the British government, but denied it sought al-Megrahi’s release.
“BP told the UK government that we were concerned about the slow progress that was being made in concluding a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya,” BP said in a statement. “We were aware that this could have a negative impact on UK commercial interests, including the ratification by the Libyan government of BP’s exploration agreement.”
“The decision to release al-Megrahi in August 2009 was taken by the Scottish government,” BP claimed. “It is not for BP to comment on the decision of the Scottish government. BP was not involved in any such discussions about the release of al-Megrahi.”
— with earlier reports