Probe release of Lockerbie bomber: US Senators to Britain
Washington: Four influential US Senators have asked Britain to investigate the circumstances that led to the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds last year.
Al-Megrahi was released by the Scottish Government in September last year because a doctor said the cancer-stricken man had only three months to live.
The Senators' demand came after news reports said that Al-Megrahi is still alive nearly a year after his release.
The Democratic Senators -- Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles E Schumer, Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez - expressed concern that the Lockerbie bomber, who only served eight years of a life sentence and could now live for another decade, may have been released based on fraudulent medical evidence.
"Al-Megrahi is still alive... the doctor responsible for the key medical opinion has told the media that not only could Al-Megrahi live another 10 years, but that the Libyan government had commissioned the doctor to make his assessment, expressly because the Libyan government hoped for a three-month prognosis. This is outrageous," the Senators said in a letter to British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald.
"There is clear reason to believe that this terrorist was released based on false information about his health," said Schumer.
"This is especially galling to those of us who believed he shouldn't have been released even if it had been true that his death was imminent," he said.
"I was outraged when Al-Megrahi was released from prison and it is sickening that this convicted terrorist may have been released under false pretences. This terrorist belongs in prison and these allegations must be investigated promptly," said Lautenberg.
"Now, claims that he is still alive, looking like he may well live for many years to come, make it clear that British authorities need to fully investigate the evidence and circumstances surrounding his release," Menendez said.
"This is a matter not only of serving justice for the innocent individuals who lost their lives in Pan Am Flight 103, but also of protecting the international community from the threat of terrorists like him," he said.
In their letter, the Senators noted the public allegations that the Lockerbie bomber's release was motivated by business and political factors.
News reports have also alleged that the Libyan government commissioned one of the doctors to make the inaccurate three-month prognosis of the Lockerbie bomber in order to secure his freedom, the Senators said.
In 2001, Al-Megrahi was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 11 on the ground and all 259 on board, including 189 Americans, many of whom were New Yorkers and New Jersey residents.