Tuesday, August 23, 2011

World

Associated Press

Updated: Aug. 20, 2009

Just before Christmas in 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Scotland, killing the 259 passengers and crew members on their way from London to New York and 11 people on the ground.

The United States and Scotland issued indictments against two Libyan intelligence officers for the bombing, but Libya refused to surrender the suspects, leading the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions against the country in 1992.

After years of negotiations and sanctions, Libya agreed to extradite the two suspects, on condition that they be tried in a third country. So a Scottish court convened in the Netherlands, and the suspects were extradited more than 10 years after the Boeing 747 was bombed.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence official, was convicted in 2001. He was the only person found guilty in the case.

On Aug. 20, 2009, despite strenuous American opposition, the Scottish government ordered his release on compassionate grounds and permitted him to return home after serving 8 years of his 27-year minimum sentence for murdering 270 people. He qualified for compassionate release after medical evidence showed he would die within months of prostate cancer, the Scottish authorities said.

Of the dead, 189 were Americans. The Scottish decision has provoked anguished protests from American families of the victims who had demanded that he serve his full sentence. The White House said in a news release that it "deeply regrets" the Scottish decision. Scotland's Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskil, said it was his decision alone that Mr. Megrahi "be released on compassionate grounds and allowed to return to Libya to die."

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Sixteen months after Mr. Megrahi's conviction, Libya acknowledged responsibility and offered $10 million in damages for each of the 270 victims, although that payment later became an issue. Libya offered the money in stages, as sanctions were removed, and the last portion was to come after the United States restored full diplomatic relations. In May 2006 the United States agreed to do so, but that was after the deadline set by Libya in the agreement, so the final $2 million per family was not paid.

Congress is considering legislation that would bar construction of a new American embassy in Tripoli until Libya settles with the families, and with the victims of a previous terror attack, the bombing in 1986 of a disco popular with American servicemen in what was then West Berlin. Lawyers for those victims say their Libyan counterparts had agreed to damage payments but then reneged.

After the West Berlin bombings, President Ronald Reagan sent warplanes to bomb Tripoli. But relations between Libya and both the United States and Britain warmed after the country disclosed it had a nuclear weapons program and agreed to give it up. American officials have described their treatment of Libya as an inducement to other countries to give up nuclear weapons programs.

On June 28, 2007, a Scottish legal panel concluded that Mr. Megrahi should be granted an appeal, challenging some of the evidence presented at his trial. On April 28, 2009, more than 20 years after the jumbo jet was bombed, a five-member panel of judges in Edinburgh began hearing the case. In August 2009, before he was released, his lawyers abandoned the appeal.

Mr. Megrahi has always professed his innocence, a stand he affirmed in a written statement read at a court hearing in November 2008 that failed to win him release because of his prostate cancer.

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ARTICLES ABOUT PAN AM FLIGHT 103

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Lockerbie Convict Appears at Rally in Libya

Video broadcast on Libyan state television on Tuesday appeared to show Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only person convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, at a rally in support of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's government.

July 27, 2011
    Scottish Government Pressed to Release Medical Advice That Led to Lockerbie Bomber’s Release

    The government came under fresh pressure at home to justify its decision to release the bomber, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, on medical grounds.

    August 11, 2010
      Hearing on Lockerbie Sets Off More Finger-Pointing

      The coming Senate hearing in Washington has prompted more disavowals by British and Scottish officials involved in releasing a convicted Libyan bomber.

      July 26, 2010
        Britain Considered Fallout From Bomber’s Death in Jail

        The foreign secretary, David Miliband, said Britain’s interests in Libya would have been damaged had the Lockerbie bomber died in a Scottish prison.

        October 13, 2009
          When Doing the Scottish Thing Backfires
          When Doing the Scottish Thing Backfires

          Theories of backdoor deals between Britain and Libya about the Lockerbie bomber ignore the parochial nature of Scottish politics. Now Scots are worried about their global reputation.

          September 25, 2009
            U.S. Assures Fretful Britons: It's Much Ado About Nothing

            Obama administration dismisses British news media reports that Pres Obama is snubbing British Prime Min Gordon Brown over Scotland's release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi; says United States still has special relationship with Britain and that Obama and Brown talk frequently

            September 25, 2009
              U.S. Looking to 'Move On' With Britain After Bomber's Release

              State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, emphasizing that British-American relations remain solid, says US is seeking to calm dispute over Scottish government's decision to release convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi; release was ordered on compassionate grounds because Megrahi is dying of prostate cancer

              September 22, 2009
                WORLD BRIEFING | MIDDLE EAST; Libya: Convicted Lockerbie Bomber Posts Documents

                Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, former Libyan intelligence agent convicted in 1988 Lockerbie bombing, posts 298-page dossier of legal documents on Internet to support his claim of innocence in attack on Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people

                September 19, 2009
                  WORLD BRIEFING | EUROPE; Britain: Brown and Obama Discuss Release of the Lockerbie Bomber

                  British Prime Min Gordon Brown and Pres Obama exchange views on subject of Scotland's decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who is terminally ill

                  September 11, 2009
                    British Minister Says Trade Figured in Bomber's Release

                    British Justice Min Jack Straw admits that trade deals and particularly BP oil deal played big part in Britain's decision not to oppose release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi to Libya; says trade is important part of bringing rogue state back into fold; Prime Min Gordon Brown had previously insisted there were no deals and that his government played no role in Scottish decision to release Megrahi

                    September 6, 2009
                      Brown Says No Lockerbie Deal Made
                      Brown Says No Lockerbie Deal Made

                      Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain broke his long silence on the decision to free Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, declaring that there had been “no cover-up.”

                      September 3, 2009
                        London and Edinburgh Release Papers on Libyan

                        British and Scottish governments release previously confidential documents concerning decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi; documents show Scottish government initially opposed compassionate release of Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer; show British government maneuvered to ensure final responsibility rested with Scottish government, while encouraging Scotland to release Megrahi in order to advance larger interests of United Kingdom; photo

                        September 2, 2009
                          Official’s Message on Lockerbie Bomber Cited British ‘Interests’

                          Leaked 2007 correspondence between the British and Scottish justice secretaries was written as a major oil deal was being negotiated, a British newspaper reported.

                          August 31, 2009
                            No ‘Hero’s Welcome’ in Libya

                            The misperceptions about the return of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi must not be allowed to impair improved relations between Libya and the West.

                            August 30, 2009
                              Qaddafi Cancels Plans to Stay in New Jersey

                              The Libyan leader, scheduled to speak at the U.N. next month, will remain in New York City during his visit instead of on a Libyan-owned estate in Englewood, N.J.

                              August 29, 2009

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                                Multimedia

                                Lockerbie Bomber Returns to Libya

                                Controversy Surrounds Bomber's Release (Video: MSNBC)

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