September 3, 2011 by staff
Lockerbie Bomber, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the Libyan opposition leaders Thursday to discuss the case of the only person convicted in the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and the U.S. will be watching closely how to handle the situation. The bomber “should be behind bars,” said Clinton.
Meeting with senior members of the Transitional National Council of Libya, Clinton said the release Abdel Baset al-Megrahi of the prison and the state of the former Libyan intelligence agent is of great concern to the Obama administration. The talks took place amid increased demand for U.S. lawmakers and the leading Republican candidates for president for the return of Megrahi in jail or extradition.
The patient al-Megrahi was released for humanitarian reasons in 2009, eight years into a life sentence in Scotland after doctors predicted he would die of prostate cancer in three months.
“The United States strongly disagrees with the decision made two years ago by the Scottish Executive to release al-Megrahi and return him to Libya,” Clinton told reporters on Thursday. “We never doubted our disapproval and condemnation of the decision. Should be behind bars.”
In interviews, Clinton made clear to the Libyan opposition leaders Abdul-Jalil Mustafa Mahmoud Jibril and the U.S. believes that al-Megrahi should never have been released and returning to a hero’s welcome in Libya Muammar Gadhafi remains problematic, U.S. officials said.
Clinton said the U.S. was also seeking assistance from the Libyan government, acting for more information about possible accomplices in planning or execution of the attack.
Gaddafi’s opposition has pledged to look at the case management al-Megrahi, once established as a fully functioning government.
Al-Megrahi, an ardent supporter of Gaddafi, now appears to death at his home in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. However, their continued presence in Libya has led some members of Congress to demand his extradition or imprisonment, especially since the rebels took power Gaddafi last month and are now about to take complete control of the country.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., has called on Clinton to release billions of dollars in assets frozen Gaddafi government contingent on the statement of al-Megrahi in jail.
The State Department said Wednesday that Clinton would press the opposition on the case, but not linked to assets, taking into account the immediate priorities, such as security and stabilization of Libya.
“I share the anger,” said Clinton. “As you know, who represented New York for eight years. Many of those who died either wine or near Syracuse University in upstate New York.”
Speaking of the private meeting with the condition of anonymity, U.S. officials said Clinton, Jalil and Jibril said he would have to “deal” with the subject al-Megrahi and seek a “fair and appropriate response” to concerns Americans.
The officials said the Libyans had been waiting for Clinton to raise the issue and understand the great importance the U.S. adheres to it. Officials would not say whether Clinton called for concrete actions from the Libyans.
December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killed 270 people, most of them Americans.
Clinton told reporters that the U.S. government continues to extend its deepest condolences to the families “have to live each day with the knowledge they have lost their loved ones.”
“They wanted justice to prevail, and we believe that justice has been interrupted,” he said. “So we will continue to do justice on behalf of victims of this terrorist attack.”
British officials said Prime Minister David Cameron did not discuss the issue in talks with envoys from Libya in Paris. Liberation of al-Megrahi was made in the decision of the semiautonomous government of Scotland, which said on Monday it had no plans to attempt to remind the Scottish prison where he was detained.
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