[The following are excerpts from a report published (behind the paywall) in today's edition of The Sunday Times:]
Libya’s new government will refuse to hand over the suspected killer of WPC Yvonne Fletcher and the Lockerbie bomber if Britain seeks their extradition, senior officials warned this weekend.
Members of the National Transitional Council (NTC) said they would block any request for a British trial of the man suspected of shooting Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984.
They would also reject any attempt to return Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, to prison in Scotland.
Hassan al-Sagheer, a member of the NTC and a legal expert, said: “Libya has never extradited or handed over its citizens to a foreign country. We shall continue with this principle.” (...)
[The comments will] dismay relatives of the Lockerbie victims and politicians in Britain and America who have called for Megrahi to be sent back to jail. David Cameron has said he should not have been released two years ago when it was thought he would die from prostate cancer within months. (...)
Members of the NTC said they were highly unlikely to change the position.
“According to our laws, no one can be handed over unless there are previous agreements or special agreements to do so,” said Fawzi al-Ali, another NTC member.
A senior judge who took part in the early stages of the uprising that toppled Gadaffi last week emphasised another reason why Megrahi would not be sent to Britain or — as some US politicians have demanded — America.
The bomber is a member of one of the largest tribes that sided with Gadaffi during the revolt. “Any move to hand him back would cause internal conflict at a time when we are trying to bridge differences,” the judge said.
[Here is UK Foreign Secretary William Hague's response, as reported on The Telegraph website:]
Speaking in a round of broadcast interviews this morning, Mr Hague said: "This is an ongoing police investigation so it is quite difficult for me to comment.
"I would say that when chairman (Mustafa Abdel) Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council, was with us in London in May he committed himself and the council to co-operating fully with the British government on this issue.
"It is true, it is a fact, that there is no extradition treaty with Libya. but we look to them to cooperate fully.
"So I would not take what has been written in the press today as the last word."
[And here is the Libyan National Transitional Council's rejoinder, as reported by The Press Association news agency:]
On Sunday morning, Foreign Secretary William Hague struck an optimistic note on the case, saying National Transitional Council (NTC) chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil had pledged to "co-operate fully".
"I would say that when chairman Jalil...was with us in London in May he committed himself and the council to co-operating fully with the British government on this issue," Mr Hague said in a round of broadcast interviews. It is true, it is a fact, that there is no extradition treaty with Libya. But we look to them to co-operate fully."
Mr Hague played down comments by junior NTC members that extraditions would be blocked, insisting they were not the "last word".
However, on Sunday evening new justice minister Mohammed al-Alagi became the most senior figure so far to rule out handing individuals over.
"We will not give any Libyan citizen to the West," he told reporters in Tripoli. "Al-Megrahi has already been judged once and he will not be judged again ... We do not hand over Libyan citizens. (Muammar) Gaddafi does."
[It should be noted that Libya did not extradite Megrahi and Fhimah for trial at Zeist, for exactly the reason set out above -- Libyan law (like that of many other countries) does not permit the extradition of its citizens for trial abroad. Megrahi and Fhimah voluntarily surrendered for trial, a decision that Megrahi at least must now bitterly regret.]