Senate seeks testimony from BP's Hayward on Lockerbie case

22nd July 2010, Comments 0 comments

BP chief executive Tony Hayward has been asked to testify before a US Senate committee about the oil giant's role in Scotland's decision to release the Lockerbie airplane bomber, a Democratic senator said Thursday.

Senator Robert Menendez said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hoped to pin down whether BP had a hand in a decision last year by the Scottish government to release cancer-stricken Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

A source familiar with the matter said BP advisor Mark Allen also has been asked to appear before the committee.

Despite a doctor's assessment that Megrahi, 58, had as little as three months to live, the Libyan national is still alive nearly a year after his August 2009 release.

"For our national security and for fundamental justice, we need answers about the circumstances of this convicted terrorist's release, and we intend to get answers at this hearing," Menendez said in a statement.

"The more it seems that this was a miscarriage of justice, the more it emboldens would-be terrorists who realize they can get away with murder," said the lawmaker, who represents the northeastern US state of New Jersey.

"The more it seems like a rigged decision, the bigger an insult it is" to those who perished in the crash, said the senator, who said government experts also would be called upon to testify.

Meghrahi was the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, most of whose 270 victims were from the United States.

He was allowed to return to Tripoli after serving only eight years of his 27-year sentence.

News reports said BP had lobbied for the bomber's release to safeguard a lucrative oil deal with Libya -- an allegation denied by the Scottish government.

© 2010 AFP

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