Scotland bid to quiz Libyan minister over Lockerbie bomb

31st March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Scottish prosecutors said Thursday they had requested an interview with Libyan foreign minister Mussa Kussa over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, following his unexpected arrival in Britain.

"We have notified the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that the Scottish prosecuting and investigating authorities wish to interview Mr Kussa in connection with the Lockerbie bombing," a Crown Office spokeswoman said.

"The investigation into the Lockerbie bombing remains open and we will pursue all relevant lines of inquiry."

Kussa, a former head of Libyan intelligence and one-time member of Moamer Kadhafi's inner circle, flew to Britain from Tunisia on Wednesday and said he was resigning as foreign minister.

Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters Thursday he was being held in a "secure place" and was volantarily in discussions with British officials.

Libyan agent Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi is the only man convicted over the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988, which killed 270 people.

Megrahi, who has terminal cancer, was released from a Scottish jail on compassionate grounds in August 2009.

Scottish prosecutors, who as part of a devolved administration operate independently from the British government in London, confirmed earlier they were still investigating the bombing.

"We continue to liaise closely with other justice authorities in relation to the ongoing investigation into the involvement of others with Mr. Megrahi in the Lockerbie bombing," the Crown Office spokeswoman said.

As one of Kadhafi's henchmen, Kussa is suspected of involvement in the bombing, while former Libyan justice minister Mustapha Abdel Jalil told a Swedish newspaper in February that the Libyan leader himself ordered it.

Many of the Lockerbie victims' families have been calling for an independent investigation into the atrocity to fill the gaps left by Megrahi's trial.

Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the bombing, said: "If Libya was involved in Lockerbie, he (Kussa) can tell us how they carried out the atrocity and why."

He added: "Today those relatives who seek the truth about why their families were murdered should be rejoicing."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said police and prosecutors "should follow their evidence wherever it leads", adding: "We will respond to any requests they make."

In a debate in the House of Commons, opposition Labour lawmaker David Winnick urged the government to provide more information about Kussa, "who undoubtedly had a great deal of involvement in terrorism?"

"Shouldn't the House be told as much information as possible about Lockerbie because the person who has defected... would have the maximum amount of information, which I hope he'll be willing to reveal to the British authorities?"

Britain's Justice Secretary Ken Clarke hailed Kussa's apparent defection as "good news", but said it was too early to say whether Kussa could be prosecuted.

"At this delicate stage in Libya I do not have a view... on whether there is any argument that he should be prosecuted, or could be prosecuted for anything," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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