Clinton renews US concerns over Lockerbie case

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday renewed American concerns over the Lockerbie affair in talks with her British counterpart William Hague, officials said.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing of a US Pan Am jumbo jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in which 270 people were killed, was freed from a Scottish jail last year.

"We continue to express our concern and to say categorically that every day that Mr. Megrahi spends as a free man in Libya is an affront to the families and victims of Pan Am 103," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.

Megrahi, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, was freed in August on compassionate grounds after doctors said he had only three months left to live. But reports have since emerged that he could live another 10 years.

London said Thursday his release had been "a mistake," which Hague reiterated in his telephone talks with Clinton, according to Crowley.

The top US diplomat also suggested London should address the issue with American lawmakers after a key US Senate panel announced Thursday it would look into Scotland's decision to free the Lockerbie bomber.

"The secretary indicated that... it might be appropriate for the British government to communicate with Congress as well to make sure that they fully understand... what transpired a year ago," Crowley said.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has said it will hold a hearing July 29 into events leading up to Megrahi's release over fierce objections from Washington.

Clinton and Hague spoke on the telephone to prepare next week's visit to the White House by new British Prime Minister David Cameron.

© 2010 AFP

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