U.S. lawmakers to review Megrahi case

Sept. 28, 2010 at 8:16 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- A U.S. Senate hearing will examine why the Scottish government released the Lockerbie bomber in 2009, a committee member said.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced that Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., will lead the Wednesday hearing to question a 2009 decision by Scottish officials to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on compassionate terms

Menendez in early September led a delegation to Scotland to investigate the release.

U.S. lawmakers wonder if the decision to release Megrahi was somehow tied to an oil deal between British oil company BP and the Libyan government. London and BP deny the allegations.

U.S. lawmakers are incensed in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which was the result of the sinking of BP's oil platform off the Louisiana coast.

Officials from the British oil company declined invitations to testify before the committee.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond told the BBC during the visit by Menendez that his U.S. colleagues have shown a sudden interest in the decision to release Megrahi.

"(Their interest) seemed to be non-existent at the time when it was revealed to the world there was this 'deal in the desert,'" he said.

Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds because it was believed his death from cancer was imminent. A year later, he is still alive in Libya.

Megrahi was convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which crashed onto the Scottish town of Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988. A total of 270 people died in the attack.

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