Senators demand Lockerbie inquiry

The memorial in Lockerbie, Scotland. Many of the 270 victims were American
The memorial in Lockerbie, Scotland. Many of the 270 victims were American

By staff

US politicians have reacted with scorn following a report into London's involvement in the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

A group of senators have called for a full independent inquiry into links between a £500 million oil deal, pressure from the Libyan government and the Scottish government's decision to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds in August 2009.

"It is important to get to the totality of the truth here," Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said.

The only man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing was given just three months to live on release, but remains alive today.

Yesterday's report from Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell revealed the British government wanted to do all it could to "facilitate" in obtaining Megrahi's release.

Yet Labour ministers at the time denied any involvement in the decision, which they insisted had been taken by Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill without outside interference.

Senators quoted by the AFP news agency attacked the British government's approach. American interest in Lockerbie stems from the fact that many of the 270 victims of Britain's worst terrorist atrocity were American.

"The denials continue to ring hollow. The families have suffered long enough and it's time to acknowledge the truth: justice was traded for commercial interests," Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg said.

Another, Democrat Chuck Schumer, said the report's findings of a lack of direct pressure "strains credulity".

Sen Menendez was quoted by the Scotsman newspaper as adding: "The UK didn't just turn a blind eye to Megrahi's release - they cut deals that set the terrorist free.

"The UK and Scottish governments' repeated denials, even when confronted by specific and compelling evidence, get more ludicrous by the day."


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