[Guest post by DRJ]
Yesterday was the 9th anniversary of the murder conviction of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi in the Lockerbie Pan Am 103 bombing. As then Acting Deputy Attorney General Robert S. Mueller III said at the time:
“The evidence presented at the Scottish trial in The Netherlands established that Megrahi was a member of intelligence services within the Libyan government. The guilty verdict serves to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that as set forth in the charge an which the conviction was rendered the defendant destroyed Pan Am flight 103 and murdered its occupants and residents of Lockerbie “in furtherance of the purpose of Libyan Intelligence Services.”
Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds on August 20, 2009, reportedly because he was dying of incurable prostate cancer. At last report (mid-December 2009), he was alive and living in his family’s Libyan villa.
There was speculation at the time of Megrahi’s release that it was part of a British government effort to smooth trade relations between Libya and British Petroleum, although the British government denied the claim. Now, however, the Independent reports that discussions between Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw and a BP consultant may have paved the way for Megrahi’s release:
“Mr Straw has admitted having two conversations with Sir Mark Allen, a former MI6 agent turned BP consultant, in the autumn of 2007. But he has insisted that “at no stage was any undertaking promised, hinted, given to the Libyans, that in return for an overall bilateral arrangement Mr Megrahi would be released”.
At the time of the conversations, the Government’s position was to exclude Megrahi from the PTA [Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya] deal. But that December, Mr Straw announced a change of policy, writing to the Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, to say he could not guarantee Megrahi would be excluded from the deal – effectively paving the way for his release.”
Straw has reportedly blocked an FOIA request seeking more information about the discussions.
H/T Eric PW Johnson.
PS — British officials previously said the Obama Administration knew in advance about Britain’s “prisoner transfer agreement with Libya and they knew that the Scots were considering Megrahi’s case.”