Tripoli: The Libyan rebel government will not deport the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, its justice minister said Sunday.
New York senators on Aug. 22 asked the Libyan transitional government to hold Abdel-Baset al-Megrahi fully accountable for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people.
But the transitional government Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi told journalists in Tripoli that the request by American senators had "no meaning" because al-Megrahi had already been tried and convicted.
"We will not hand over any Libyan citizen. It was Gadhafi who handed over Libyan citizens," he said, referring to the government`s decision to turn al-Megrahi over to a Scottish court for trial.
The Scottish government released al-Megrahi in 2009, believing he would soon die of cancer. He was greeted as a hero in his native Libya and met with Gadhafi.
New York Senator Charles Schumer had encouraged the new Libyan leadership to hold al-Megrahi accountable.
"A new Libya can send a strong statement to the world by declaring it will no longer be a haven for this convicted terrorist," he said.
Scottish officials overseeing al-Megrahi`s parole have said they want to contact him now that the fighting between Libyan forces and rebels has reached Tripoli.
Al-Megrahi is the only person convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, Britain`s worst terrorist attack. His release after serving eight years of a life sentence infuriated the families of many victims, who suspected Britain`s real motive was to improve relations with oil-rich Libya.
Al-Megrahi`s current whereabouts are unknown and on Saturday, no one answered the door of his villa, hidden behind tall walls in an upscale Tripoli neighborhood. A neighbor, Yousef Mohammed, said he saw al-Megrahi`s son in the street on Friday and assumed that the family had not left the area.
No private guards or rebel fighters were visible in the quiet side street of walled villas.
The neighbor, said he often saw al-Megrahi in the neighborhood.
"This guy is sick. All the time, I saw him in the (wheelchair)," he said.
Mohammed said he and other neighbors did not believe al-Megrahi was involved in the Lockerbie bombing and that the family was well-liked in the neighborhood.