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Dealing over Lockerbie bomber revealed

Feb. 7, 2011 at 1:22 PM   |   Comments

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EDINBURGH, Scotland, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- The Scottish government tried to make a deal with London to free the Lockerbie bomber as early as 2007, a leaked e-mail reveals.

The (Glasgow) Daily Record reported Monday an e-mail between government aides shows Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was willing to consider freeing Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in return for help with costly lawsuits by inmates over "slopping out" -- having to use buckets in their cells for toilets.

Scotland needed the central government to set a time limit on claims by prisoners whose human rights were violated.

Megrahi, convicted of masterminding the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988, was returned to Libya in 2009 ostensibly for humanitarian reasons because he was suffering from prostate cancer. At the time he was given three months to live but still is surviving.

First Minister Alex Salmond dismissed the claim as "balderdash," and his Scottish National Party publicly opposed a prisoner transfer deal with Libya.

Salmond's spokesman accused London of linking prisoner transfer talks with "other issues under discussion" in 2007.

But Labor's justice spokesman, Richard Baker, said, "Kenny MacAskill and Alex Salmond now have very serious questions to answer about Megrahi's release."

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