British Foreign Secy confirms Lockerbie `mistake`

Last Updated: Sunday, July 18, 2010 - 09:29

London: British Foreign Secretary
William Hague wrote to US Secretary Hillary Clinton today
confirming his belief that it had been a "mistake" to release
the Lockerbie bomber from jail last year.

Hague repeated remarks by Britain`s ambassador to
Washington this week that the newly elected government in
London had opposed the release last August of Abdelbaset Ali
Mohmet al-Megrahi from a Scottish jail.

"Firstly, I must emphasise my own concern and
regret at the continuing anguish that the release has caused
the families of Megrahi`s victims in the United States, as
well as here in the UK," he wrote.

"I would like to make clear that this
administration believes that the release of Megrahi was a
mistake."

The letter was sent the day after Clinton raised
the issue with Hague during a phone call to prepare for next
week`s visit to the White House by new British Prime Minister
David Cameron, who took office in May.

Megrahi, the only person convicted of the 1988
bombing of a US jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in
which 270 people were killed, was freed because he was thought
to have just months to live. He is still alive in Libya.

The decision sparked outrage in the United States,
where most of the Lockerbie victims were from, and this anger
has been reawakened amid claims that oil giant BP had urged
his release to protect an oil deal with Libya.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee said it
would hold a hearing into events leading up to Megrahi`s
release by the devolved government in Scotland.

However, Hague insisted: "There is no evidence that
corroborates in any way the allegations of BP involvement in
the Scottish Executive`s decision to release Megrahi on
compassionate grounds in 2009."

The Foreign Office said Hague had told Clinton in
their phone call on Friday that the British government would
"engage constructively" with Washington and the Senate
committee probe into Megrahi`s release.

Hague said he had copied his letter to committee
chairman Senator John Kerry and had asked British ambassador
to Washington Nigel Sheinwald to "stay in close touch" with
the panel.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, July 18, 2010 - 09:29

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