Clinton urges Libya rebels to jail Lockerbie bomber

1st September 2011, Comments 0 comments

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Libyan rebel leaders Thursday to jail the ailing Lockerbie bomber, while admitting that they face many other challenges, US officials said.

"Her position ... was no different in private than it's been in public," a senior State Department official said, after Clinton spoke with National Transitional Council president Mustafa Abdel Jalil in Paris.

Two years ago, Washington criticised Scotland for releasing Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, an alleged Libyan agent convicted of bombing Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, southern Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people.

Believing that he was dying of cancer, Scottish judges freed him and he was welcomed back to Libya as a hero by Moamer Kadhafi's regime. Kadhafi is now on the run, and many in the United States and Britain want Megrahi re-arrested.

US officials said Abdel Jalil was expecting the issue to come up when he met Clinton on Thursday on the sidelines of a conference on Libya's future.

"Our bottom line is that we believe that Megrahi should properly be behind bars, that he should not have been released," another senior State Department official told reporters, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We recognise that the NTC has a whole host of challenges that it needs to confront, but it was important for the secretary to convey our view on this," the official added.

The officials said the new Libyan leadership will have to "grapple with" US demands, and confirmed that Clinton did urge the Libyans that he be put back in jail, as some in the US Congress are demanding.

"She has said that to them," the official said.

© 2011 AFP

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