British minister warns of new Lockerbie

26th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi could stage a Lockerbie-style attack in revenge for coalition air strikes if he is left in power, British Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said in an interview Friday.

Clarke, who is also Lord Chancellor, the most senior legal figure in the cabinet, told the Guardian newspaper that there was still uncertainty in the government about the direction of the Libyan campaign.

"We do have one particular interest in the Maghreb (North Africa), which is Lockerbie," Clarke said, referring to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, which killed 270 people.

"The British people have reason to remember the curse of Kadhafi -- Kadhafi back in power, the old Kadhafi looking for revenge, we have a real interest in preventing that."

Libyan national Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi was in 2001 convicted of the bombing.

In August 2009 the Scottish authorities released him on compassionate grounds after doctors said he was suffering from terminal cancer and had three months to live.

Britain, France and the United States took the lead in attacking Libya to enforce a UN Security Council resolution allowing "all necessary means" to protect civilians and enforce a ceasefire and no-fly zone.

Clarke admitted that the UN resolution does not support regime change, but said there was little agreement on how long the conflict in Libya would take or how it would be resolved.

"I am not in the Foreign Office, fortunately, so I am not too worried by my remarks. But I am still not totally convinced anyone knows where we are going now," he said.

But he added: "The British people will support us for as long as it takes, so long they think we are protecting innocent civilians, many of whom seem to share our values against an evil dictator."

With the air strikes in their seventh day the coalition is still looking to define its goals within the resolution's terms, although wrangling over whether NATO should take command of the operation appears nearly over.

© 2011 AFP

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