WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate should conduct a formal investigation into whether the release of the Lockerbie bomber was linked to oil contracts, a lawmaker says.
Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill on Aug. 20 released Abdel Bassel al-Megrahi, the lone suspect in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, on compassionate terms as the former Libyan intelligence officer suffers from terminal cancer.
Allegations have surfaced that a 2007 bilateral prisoner transfer agreement between the British government and Tripoli was linked to oil contracts and the Megrahi release.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., in a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called for a formal investigation into the allegations.
"In particular, I ask that the committee examine whether Mr. Megrahi's release was influenced by oil contracts between U.K.-based BP Plc. and the government of Libya," he writes.
Lautenberg said a formal investigation should look into whether oil and commercial interests played a role in the decision.
London, meanwhile, faces an uncertain energy future as deposits in the North Sea run dry. Ukraine and other European nations have lobbied for access to Libyan reserves as well.
Regardless, Lautenberg says the bombing of Pan Am 103 was a "brutal act of terrorism" that should not be linked to commercial interests.
"I urge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hold a hearing and investigation to uncover whether justice took a back seat to commercial interests," he said.