US Senator: Tie Libyan aid to Lockerbie bomber
The United States should withhold aid to Libya's rebel "National Transitional Council" (NTC) until it has imprisoned the convicted Lockerbie bomber, a top US senator said Wednesday.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a letter made public by his office that the condition should extend to giving the NTC access to longtime strongman Moamer Kadhafi's frozen assets.
"There is no justifiable basis for the rebels decision to shield this convicted terrorist," he said, referring to Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, the only person ever convicted in connection with the 1988 attack.
"I request that the Department of State condition further assistance to the Libyan Transitional Council, including access to frozen Libyan assets, on the return of al-Megrahi to prison," said Schumer.
The lawmaker noted that Clinton would attend international talks in Paris on Thursday aimed at helping Libyan rebels form an interim government and prepare for democracy.
"The opposition movement that has demonstrated its goal to live in a free and accountable Libya must demonstrate its commitment to justice by ensuring that a global terrorist like al-Megrahi face those he has victimized and be returned to jail," said Schumer.
Megrahi has denied any role in the in-flight bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people, most of them Americans, but in 2001 was sentenced to life in prison.
The United States has long criticized the decision by Scottish authorities in August 2009 to release Megrahi early on compassionate grounds, in the belief that he had only months to live because of prostate cancer.
More than two years later, he is alive and living in Tripoli, although his brother said he is drifting in and out of a coma.
© 2011 AFP