Scots set for Lockerbie talks over Libyan deserter

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Scottish detectives and prosecutors are to meet with Foreign Office officials on Monday to discuss Libyan foreign minister Mussa Kussa, who deserted to Britain, as part of the Lockerbie bombing probe.

Kussa was not offered immunity following his unexpected arrival in Britain and Prime Minister David Cameron has urged police to follow the trail of evidence over the 1988 jumbo jet bombing wherever it leads.

Members of the Crown Office, which oversees prosecutions in Scotland, and the police force responsible for the counties surrounding Lockerbie, southwest Scotland, are set for talks with Foreign Office officials.

They have been in contact with representatives from both bodies "in connection with the Lockerbie bombing and will be meeting with them on Monday to discuss the situation concerning Mr Mussa Kussa further," a spokesman for the ministry said.

The Crown Office has requested an interview with Kussa over the bombing. The investigation into the worst terror atrocity to hit Britain remains open.

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

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

The Boeing 747 jumbo jet was en route from London to New York when it was blown out of the sky over the Dumfriesshire town.

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

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.

A senior government source told The Sunday Telegraph newspaper it was wrong to consider Kussa as a defector.

"He has not joined the (Libyan) opposition and he has not joined us," the source was quoted as saying.

"He is somebody who has left Colonel Kadhafi's government after a lifetime working for him. It was an enormously life-changing decision for him.

"He has a series of very, very big decisions which he still has to make. He has had a mental ordeal -- but his health is OK.

The Mail on Sunday newspaper said the notion of special protection for Koussa had angered some lawmakers.

Ben Wallace, the parliamentary aide to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, wrote: "Britain has always dealt with rats -- the national interest frequently demands it. But we should not do a deal with a rat the size of Moussa Koussa.

"This man should not be granted asylum or any other special treatment; the only proper outcome is to bring him to justice.

"Britain needs to make up its mind quickly. There will be no shortage of courts that will readily seek his extradition. The last thing the UK wants is for Koussa to languish, at taxpayers' expense, in legal no-man's-land."

© 2011 AFP

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