NTC will cooperate in Lockerbie probe: Britain

27th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Libya's rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) will assist in the Lockerbie bombing probe despite its justice minister claiming that "the case is closed", Britain's foreign ministry said Monday.

Transitional justice minister Mohammed al-Alagi said Monday that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing, should not face a new prosecution, telling reporters the investigation had concluded.

But a spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office (FCO) said later Monday the rebels had since promised to aid Scottish prosecutor Frank Mulholland after he requested they hand over information that could lead to a second trial.

"NTC Chairman Abdul Jalil has already assured the Prime Minister (David Cameron) that the new Libyan authorities will cooperate with the UK in this and other ongoing investigations," an FCO spokesman said Monday.

"Having spoken with the NTC this evening we understand that this remains the case.

"The police investigation into the Lockerbie bombing remains open, and the police should follow the evidence wherever it leads them," added the spokesman.

Al-Alagi earlier told AFP he had personally not received a request from Scottish prosecutors. But he said that Megrahi, released by Scottish authorities on medical grounds two years ago, had already served his punishment.

"They decided to release him on compassionate grounds and this was approved by the Scottish and British governments," said Al-Alagi. "And I say we should not prosecute the same person twice."

Scottish authorities in particular want the NTC to make evidence and witnesses available for their probe into the attack on Pan Am flight 103 in which 270 people died.

Megrahi, the only person convicted of the bombing, was released on August 20, 2009 after doctors said he had only three months to live. He is still alive.

The Pan Am jumbo jet exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, killing 259 people on the aircraft, mainly Americans, and 11 on the ground.

A second Libyan man, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, tried alongside Megrahi by a Scottish court sitting in The Netherlands, was acquitted in 2001.

Secret files released earlier this month showed that Moamer Kadhafi's regime had warned of "dire consequences" for relations between Libya and Britain if Megrahi died in jail in Scotland.

© 2011 AFP

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