Scots' Lockerbie release probe inadequate: US senators

2nd August 2010, Comments 0 comments

A probe by Scottish authorities into the controversial decision to release the Libyan convicted in the Lockerbie plane bombing was inadequate, two US senators charged Monday.

The senators, who are spearheading US attacks on the decision to free cancer-stricken Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi in August 2009, said they were unsatisfied and wanted more answers.

"It seems that the inquiry was quite limited," Democratic senators Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg said in a letter to Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond.

Megrahi was the only man convicted in the 1988 terrorist attack over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, in which 270 people died, including 189 Americans.

After doctors said he had only three months to live, he was released on compassionate grounds and allowed to return to Libya.

However, a year later he remains alive, prompting US critics to question whether oil giant BP had lobbied on Megrahi's behalf in order to safeguard a 900-million-dollar contract with Libya -- something BP and British officials deny.

Menendez and Lautenberg also said at a press conference in New Jersey on Monday that as part of their investigation they will "request to interview key individuals, with the possibility of conducting such interviews outside of the US."

The senators had planned a hearing last Thursday, but cancelled after key witnesses including Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, former British justice secretary Jack Straw and BP boss Tony Hayward did not attend.

In the letter to Salmond, the senators noted that Scottish official had said he did not need to participate in hearings because "you judge that the inquiry by the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee was sufficient."

However they said several questions needed answering, including why there had not been an independent investigator appointed in Scotland.

They also asked Salmond why there "wasn't an effort made to question more witnesses" and who had been responsible for deciding which government documents in the affair should be made public.

© 2010 AFP

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