UK reiterates BP not involved in Lockerbie release

The decision by Scottish authorities to release the only person convicted of the deadly bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 was "wrong and misguided,".

Last Updated: Jul 24, 2010, 21:45 PM IST

London: The decision by Scottish authorities
to release the only person convicted of the deadly bombing of
Pan Am Flight 103 was "wrong and misguided," but there`s no
evidence to suggest that Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was returned
to Libya in return for lucrative oil deals, British Foreign
Secretary William Hague said in letter to US officials.

Hague`s letter to Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was released by the
Foreign Office on Saturday.

Hague says that he, like British Prime Minister David
Cameron, disagreed with the release of al-Megrahi, but that
the decision was for Scotland alone, and that he has seen
nothing which shows the oil company interfered in the process.

"There is no evidence that corroborates in any way the
allegation of BP`s involvement in the Scottish Executive`s
entirely separate decision to release Mr. Megrahi on
compassionate grounds in 2009, nor any suggestion that the
Scottish Executive decided to release him on compassionate
grounds in order to facilitate oil deals for BP," Hague`s
letter to Kerry, dated July 22, says.

"None of our searches of U.K. Government material to
date have produced any record of an attempt by BP to influence
either the U.K. government or the Scottish executive with
regard to Mr. Megrahi`s release."

The correspondence comes ahead of a hearing next week
in Washington into the circumstances surrounding the release
of al-Megrahi, convicted in 2001 of the attack on the jetliner
in the skies above the small town of Lockerbie, Scotland. The
December 21, 1988 bombing killed 259 people, mostly Americans,
on board the plane, and another 11 on the ground.

Al-Megrahi was sentenced to life in a Scottish prison,
with a minimum of 27 years, but in September 2008 was
diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill decided
last August to release al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds,
believing that the 58-year-old had less than three months to
live. In May, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Libyan leader
Moammar Gadhafi, said al-Megrahi was still alive but "very
sick."

The decision to release al-Megrahi outraged the
families of the US victims of the attack, and was criticized
both by President Barack Obama and FBI director Robert
Mueller.

Hague said he is "profoundly aware that every day this
convicted murderer is not serving out his sentence in a
Scottish prison adds to the grief and pain of those who lost
loved ones in the Lockerbie tragedy.

"At the same time, I believe we have a responsibility
to address the unsubstantiated rumors that there was some sort
of conspiracy involving BP which led to Mr. Megrahi`s
release," he wrote.

PTI

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