Lockerbie bomber issue tied to oil?

LONDON, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- A treaty with Libya tied in part to the repatriation of the bomber of Pan Am flight 103 is part of an effort to secure British oil interests, officials say.

Abdel Basset al-Magrahi, the lone person convicted for the 1988 attack over Lockerbie, Scotland, has dropped his plea for early release on compassionate grounds. Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice secretary, could still consider repatriation, however.


Lawmakers in London ratified a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya in April. Prime Minister Gordon Brown now faces accusations he pushed the treaty through to secure British oil interests in Libya, London's Guardian newspaper reports.

Members of Parliament and human-rights officials say they did not get the opportunity to vet the treaty because ministers rushed the measure through to protect their Libyan interests.

Richard Shepherd, a conservative MP, told the Guardian that securing British energy interests is no reason to avoid examining key legislation.

"We clearly have an interest because of the discovery of even vaster energy resources. Governments are always juggling that," he said. "But that is no reason for us not to scrutinize and see whether a piece of legislation is appropriate."


Britain will rely on imports to meet 80 percent of its energy needs as early as 2015 as North Sea reserves run dry. Libya, meanwhile, needs foreign investments to boost production, down from 3.3 million barrels per day in 1970 to a current rate of just 1.8 million.

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