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Lawmakers want Lockerbie bomber returned to jail

August 23, 2011|By Kim Geiger
(The Telegraph )

Last month, as pro-Kadafi forces staged a televised rally in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, Abdel Basset Ali Megrahi, who was convicted a decade ago in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, was seen sitting alongside Moammar Kadafi.

Megrahi was released from prison two years ago by Scottish authorities, who believed he was in such poor health that he had just months to live.

Now, as Kadafi's regime crumbles, Megrahi's Scottish parole officers say they will try to locate him, the Associated Press reports.

"Obviously, the situation has changed in Tripoli since the weekend," George Barbour, a spokesman for the East Renfrewshire Council near Glasgow, told the Associated Press. "It puts us in a position where we are looking to make sure that we can contact him in the same way we have over the past two years."a

Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer of New York raised the issue on Monday, as did Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The bombing, which struck a flight bound for New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, killed 270 people, mostly Americans, including 35 students of Syracuse University who were returning home from a semester abroad.

Gillibrand called Megrahi's appearance alongside Kadafi last month "another slap in the face not just for the families of the Lockerbie victims, but for all Americans and all nations of the world who are committed to bringing terrorists to justice.

"As a transitional government takes hold in Libya, it should seek to undo the injustice of Megrahi's release by returning him to the jail cell where he belongs," Schumer said in a statement. "A new Libya can send a strong statement to the world by declaring it will no longer be a haven for this convicted terrorist."

Romney called on Libya to "form a government that supports freedom, human rights and the rule of law."

"As a first step, I call on this new government to arrest and extradite the mastermind behind the bombing of Pan Am 103...so justice can finally be done."

Scottish officials released Megrahi on grounds of compassion so he could live out his final days in Libya. His release enraged the families of the victims and there was speculation that he was released as part of a deal to gain access to Libya's oil.

Just last week, a leading cancer specialist in Scotland said Megrahi could live for several more years.

Kadafi is widely believed to have ordered the attack on the Pan Am flight.

kim.geiger@latimes.com

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