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Lockerbie bomber case may reopen with new Libyan government

Lockerbie bomber: the US is calling for the Libyan transitional government to look at the Lockerbie bomber case while Abdel Baset al-Megrahi reportedly fades in and out of consciousness.

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Calls for al-Megrahi to be returned to prison have increased in the U.S. and Europe since rebel forces seized control of Tripoli last week, but it is not clear whether that could happen. The Scottish government says it has no plans to ask for him to be returned, and al-Megrahi's brother says he is so close to death that there would be little point.

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New York's two senators recently asked Libya's transitional government to hold al-Megrahi fully accountable for the 1998 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people. One of those senators, Democrat Chuck Schumer, insisted Monday that al-Megrahi's health be independently evaluated and that the opposition should not protect him. "There is no justifiable basis for the rebels' decision to shield this convicted terrorist," Schumer said.

On Sunday, the rebel's transitional government Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi said the renewed demands for punishment had "no meaning" because al-Megrahi had already been tried and convicted. But on Monday, he appeared to backtrack, saying officials knew the issue was important to some governments but that any discussions would have to wait until an elected government was in place

Nuland would not predict what action the new Libyan government might take and said the U.S. had not yet sought anything specific. But she suggested that Libya's new leaders could look into al-Megrahi's presence and status in Libya. "If you have a new governing authority in Libya, they can presumably review the terms under which their predecessors accepted his return to Libya," she said.

Al-Megrahi's release after serving eight years of a life sentence infuriated the families of many Lockerbievictims, most of whom were American. Some critics of his release have long suspected it was motivated by Britain's attempts to improve relations with oil-rich Libya.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was a champion for the victims' families when she was a New York senator, has said that al-Megrahi should not have been released. Nuland said Clinton's position had not changed.

Clinton will have a chance to raise the matter directly with Libyan officials this week when she interrupts her summer vacation to attend an international conference on Libya in Paris.

But getting money and other assistance to the rebels to help them consolidate power and prepare to hold democratic elections will top the agenda at Thursday's meeting of the International Contact Group on Libya. The group is gathering for the fifth time since the uprising began in January and for the first time since Tripoli fell. The focus will be on giving the opposition access to tens of billions of dollars in frozen Gadhafi regime assets to launch a credible and transparent transition.

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