Scottish detectives could soon be in Tripoli to sift through undisclosed evidence that might shed new light on the Lockerbie bombing, 23 years after Britain’s worst terrorist atrocity took place.
Members of the House of Lords were told yesterday that the UK Government was “collaborating closely” with Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland’s request to Libya’s National Transitional Government (NTC) for evidence relating to the 1988 terrorist attack – which theoretically raises the prospect of a new trial – and, in addition, its ministers were seeking an update on the health of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. During the recent uprising, he was said to be at “death’s door”.
During questions in the upper chamber, Lord Howell, the Foreign Office Minister, said: “The Government will continue to support the Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary’s investigation into the Lockerbie bombing. We will approach Libya’s newly formed transitional Government about getting the police back to Libya at the earliest opportunity to take forward their investigations. The NTC chairman, Abdul Jalil, has assured the Prime Minister that the new Libyan authorities will co-operate with the UK on this and other on-going investigations.”
Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked if the recent capture of Colonel Gaddafi’s intelligence chief, Abdullah al Senussi, and the intelligence archives in Tripoli “may finally provide the vital information which will assist the Lord Advocate with his ongoing inquiries”.
The Conservative peer, who was a Scottish Office minister at the time of the bombing, asked that in order to bring closure to the families of the 270 victims was it “not highly desirable that they should learn from any new evidence exactly what it was that happened 23 years ago and, precisely, what was the background to this monstrous crime”.
Lord Howell said: “Senussi’s arrest, if confirmed, would offer an opportunity to uncover the truth behind some of the former regime’s dreadful crimes.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has said Megrahi could not be extradited to the US because it would breach the conditions of his licence. [RB: This is true, of course, but I was not aware that the Scottish Government had actually said so.]