UK deputy PM wants Lockerbie bomber back in jail


British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he would like to see convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi put back in jail after the overthow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Many U.S. politicians and victims’ relatives are pressing for Megrahi’s extradition to the United States following his release on compassionate grounds two years ago. In all, 189 of the 270 dead in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing were American citizens.
“My personal view is that I would like to see al Megrahi behind bars, because whatever you think he was convicted in a court of law for one of the most atricious terrorist acts this country has ever seen,” Clegg told Sky TV, Reuters reports.

Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of playing a “significant part in planning and perpetrating” the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish border town of Lockerbie.

He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum jail term of 27 years but he returned to Libya in August 2009 after being freed from a Scottish jail on the grounds he was suffering from terminal prostate cancer.

Scottish authorities said at the time of his release he was only expected to live for another three months.

Megrahi recently passed the second anniversary of his release. He appeared last month at a rally in support of Gaddafi, sitting in a wheelchair at a tribal meeting in Tripoli.

The release strained traditonally strong ties between Britain and the United States, with some U.S. politicians asking whether it had been designed to help oil giant BP secure contracts in Libya.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who took office in May 2010, has called the release a mistake.

However, Scotland has responsibility for its own legal system following devolution in 1999.
“At the end of the day this is an issue for the Scottish government alone,” said Clegg.

Scottish government sources said Megrahi had abided by the licence terms of his release — submitting regular medical reports and reporting in though telephone conference calls.

Clegg said there were several long-standing issues with Libya ranging from al Megrahi to Libyan aid for Irish Republican Army (IRA) guerrillas during Northern Ireland’s 30-year troubles and the shooting dead of British policewoman Yvonne Fletcher by a gunman in Libya’s London embassy in 1984.
“These are all issues in which we would look for cooperation from a new Libyan government and the early signs are that they are very keen to work with us,” Clegg said.