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`Megrahi should serve remainder sentence in Scottish prison`

Lockerbie bomber was released by authorities on compassionate ground in 2009.



Washington: The US has said the decision by the Scottish authorities a year ago to release the Lockerbie bomber was wrong and inappropriate, and said he should serve the rest of his sentence in a Scottish prison.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was released by Scottish authorities on compassionate ground last year after doctors determined that he was suffering from terminal cancer and would not live for more than three months. A year later, he is still alive.

Mohamed al-Megrahi was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2001 for his role in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland on December 21, 1988, claiming the lives of 270 innocent people, including 189 US citizens.

"The United States continues to categorically disagree with the decision made by the Scottish Executive to release al-Megrahi and return him to Libya last year," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison in August 2009 and got a hero`s welcome in Tripoli.

"As we have expressed repeatedly to Scottish authorities, we maintain that al-Megrahi should serve out the entirety of his sentence in prison in Scotland. We have and will continue to reiterate this position to the Scottish and Libyan authorities," she said in a statement.

Obama`s top counterterrorism official, John Brennan, told reporters at Martha Vineyard in Massachusetts, that the US has made clear repeatedly that it emphatically disagrees with that decision to release Megrahi.

"We`ve expressed our strong conviction that al-Megrahi should serve out the remainder, the entirety, of his sentence in a Scottish prison. We will continue to reiterate this position to the Scottish and Libyan authorities.”

“And the President extends his deepest sympathies to those affected by that reprehensible act of terrorism, especially those families and friends of the victims of that tragic act," he said.

"It is our view that Megrahi should serve out the remainder of his sentence in a Scottish prison, which would require his return to Scotland," Brennan said.

"Clearly, the prognosis of his near-term demise that prompted the decision by the Scottish executive to have this compassionate release and -- we certainly take umbrage at that reference to compassion, because Megrahi did not have any compassion at all for those victims -- so we are continuing to convey our sentiments to the Scottish authorities. We`ll continue to call for his return to Scotland and that he serves out his prison sentence there," he demanded.

The United States would also continue to talk with the Libyan authorities in this regard, he said.

Meanwhile, four American Senators - Robert Menendez, Frank Lautenberg, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand - yesterday widened the scope of their inquiry to include Libya and Qatar.

In a letter to the leaders of those nations, as well as Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, the Senators cited various statements and documents, which have raised suspicions that commercial interests involving those countries may have influenced the decision to release Abdelbasset al-Megrahi.

The senators called on Libya, Qatar and Scotland to support a full and independent investigation into the matter, which British Prime Minister Cameron has supported in previous statements.

"Many questions have been raised as to whether the doctors who Scottish authorities consulted believed at the time Mr al-Megrahi had only three months to live," wrote the Senators.

"Because these questions remain open, the families of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103 remain concerned that commercial concerns between Scotland, Qatar, and Libya played a role in Mr al-Megrahi`s release," they said.

"To ensure that commercial considerations were not a factor in the early release of Mr al-Megrahi, we call on each of your governments to support a comprehensive, independent investigation with subpoena authority into Mr al-Megrahi`s release, fully supported by the UK and Scottish Governments," the letter said.

PTI

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