Lockerbie papers to be released

Britain and Scotland plan to release the official correspondence in an effort to stem controversy over the release of convicted bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

By , Correspondent

With outrage and controversy mounting, the British and Scottish governments say they will soon reveal why they decided to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the Lockerbie bombing, by releasing a series of official correspondence on the matter.

Mr. Megrahi, who is said to be suffering from terminal cancer, was released from a Scottish prison on Aug. 20, allegedly on compassionate grounds. He had served eight years of a life sentence, after being convicted of murdering 270 people aboard Pan Am flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

His release has been shrouded in mystery, divided public opinion in England, and been met with blistering critique around the world.The head of the US Federal Bureau of Intelligence, Robert Mueller, strongly condemned the release, drawing a rebuke from British authorities.

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The Sunday Times, meanwhile, reported this week that Meghrahi’s release may have been timed in order to win favorable concessions for the British government in an oil deal with Libya. The government denied any such agreement.

More controversy followed on Sunday, when a former British ambassador to Libya questioned the politics of the deal, as the London Times reports:

Oliver Miles told The Times that there was “something fishy” in the coincidence that Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi’s lawyers applied to drop his appeal against conviction on the same day that news of his imminent release was leaked to the media.
“I cannot know what exactly happened but I believe that the UK and Scottish governments wanted the appeal to be dropped and somehow it was dropped”, said Mr Miles.

To stave off rising concerns, “The Scottish Government pledged last week to publish ‘all relevant information' on the two applications, for a prisoner transfer and for compassionate early release,” Britain’s Independent newspaper reports:

UK ministers last night signalled that they too would publish the relevant information.
The material is likely to include notes of a meeting between [Scotland’s justice secretary Kenny] MacAskill and Megrahi in Greenock prison on August 5.

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