Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who has just resigned from his cabinet post in protest at the violent crackdown against anti-government demonstrations, told a Swedish journalist in Libya: ‘I have proof that Gaddafi gave the order to bring down the Pam Am flight over Lockerbie.’
UK DAILY MAIL –Mustafa Abdell-Jalil told Swedish Expressen that Col. Gaddafi gave the order to Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, which killed all 259 people on board and 11 in 1988.
‘To hide it, he (Gaddafi) did everything in his power to get al-Megrahi back from Scotland,’ Abdel-Jalil said. Al-Megrahi was granted a compassionate release from a Scottish prison in August 2009 on the grounds that he was suffering from prostate cancer and would die soon. He is still alive.
Libya’s former Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, accused Col Gaddafi of personally ordering the Lockerbie bombing
The Swedish paper Expressen said its reporter, Kassem Hamade, interviewed the ex-justice minister at ‘a local parliament in a large city in Libya.’The interview is sure to provoke fury on both sides of the Atlantic, and stoke yet more international pressure on the Libyan leader, who is desperately clinging to power after a popular uprising against his dictatorial rule.
Gaddafi has been trying to bring his country out of isolation, announcing in 2003 that he was abandoning his program for weapons of mass destruction and renouncing terrorism. Gaddafi also accepted Libya’s responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and paid compensation to the victims’ families.
But he has not admitted personally giving the order for the attack. Most of the victims in the Lockerbie bombing were Americans, and al-Megrahi’s (photo at left) release has been criticised by members of the U.S. Congress and the victims’ families.
Bob Monetti, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, whose 20-year-old son Richard was killed in the bombing, said he’s glad to hear a former official say what’s been clear to him all along. He said officials and the media, especially in the UK, have been denying that. ‘Ever since the trial, which was held in a totally obscure
location in Holland and was covered by nobody, there’s been a drumbeat in the UK about how this is a trumped up thing and Libya had nothing to do with it,’ he said.
Earlier this month, extraordinary official documents revealed the last British government did ‘all it could’ to have al-Megrahi returned to Libya. In the U.S., relatives of victims were appalled, with one saying: ‘I’m not sure Britain can sink much lower.’
Ministers were accused of ‘acting like lawyers for the Libyans’ as the unprecedented release of Whitehall papers revealed how the Labour government had a ‘game plan’ and secretly plotted to ‘facilitate’ an appeal by the Libyans over Megrahi. They were determined to seal a BP oil deal and strengthen political ties with Libya, a review headed by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell found.
Soon after he became prime minister, Gordon Brown wrote to Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi promising to ‘fulfil all the undertakings’ made by his predecessor Tony Blair, which included a prisoner transfer deal, the documents showed. Senior Labour Cabinet ministers always denied being involved in any backstairs deals over the release in August 2009, yet a secret Foreign Office memo referred to a ‘game plan’ to facilitate Megrahi’s move to Libya.
Sir Gus’s analysis of the papers said: ‘Once Megrahi had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in September 2008, (government) policy was based upon an assessment that UK interests would be damaged if Megrahi were to die in a UK jail.’ Other letters showed Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell met with his Libyan counterpart and wrote to him advising on how to petition authorities in Scotland for Megrahi’s ‘compassionate release’.
Reporting the findings of Sir Gus’s report to the Commons, David Cameron said: ‘Insufficient consideration was given to the most basic question of all. ‘Was it really right for the British government to “facilitate” an appeal by the Libyans to the Scottish government in the case of an individual who was convicted of murdering 270 people, including 43 British citizens and 190 Americans, and 19 other nationalities? ‘That is, for me, the biggest lesson of this entire affair. For my part, I repeat – I believe it was profoundly wrong.’
The former Prime Minister quoted from one Foreign Office paper, dated January 2009: ‘We now need to go further and work actively but discreetly to ensure that Megrahi is transferred back to Libya under the PTA [prisoner transfer agreement] or failing that released on compassionate grounds.’
Mr Cameron added: ‘Frankly, this tells us something that was not made clear at the time. ‘It goes further than the account that the former prime minister and the former foreign secretary gave. We weren’t told about facilitating an appeal, about facilitating contact or game plans.’
Former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said it was clear the Labour government ‘was up to its neck in this shoddy business’.