Saturday, 10 March 2012

Libya rules out visit by British police to investigate Lockerbie ...

Demands clarification of Blair’s role as dictator’s advisor 

[This is the headline over a report published today on the website of the Libyan English-language newspaper The Tripoli Post.  It reads in part:]

Libya's interior minister on 6 March ruled out a visit by British police to investigate the 1988 Lockerbie bombing or the killing of British policewoman Yvonne Fletcher almost two decades ago.

"There is no treaty between Britain and Libya to allow such a thing," Fawzi Abdelali told AFP in a joint interview with a British newspaper, adding that London had some explaining to do on its own dealings with dead brutal dictator Gaddafi and his regime. (...)

Abdelali implied the timing of British demand is a sort of pressuring the country at a sensitive time faced by the newly liberated Libya which is trying to rebuild everything from scratch.

"Why did they shut up about this all these years and bring it up now, when we are in a period of transition and building up our institutions from scratch after decades of dictatorship," the minister asked.

"Do you remember when Fletcher was killed? We are now in 2012. Where was the British government from 1984 until 2011?" said the former district attorney who now has access to tens of thousands of files on Gaddafi’s dealings with world leaders.

For his part, Abdelali said he wanted allegations to be investigated by the ousted leader's jailed son Seif al-Islam that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had acted as a political adviser to his father.

Blair played a key role in repairing diplomatic ties between the two countries and visited the Libya several times after 2004.

"Why did the British government improve its relations with Gaddafi? Something happened in this case between the former Libyan regime and the British government to end this dispute," said the minister.

"Didn't America and Britain accept millions of dollars from Gaddafi as the price to end this case (Lockerbie)? Who let Abdelbaset al-Megrahi go? Did we?" he asked, referring to the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in which 270 people died.

A Scottish court in 2001 convicted Megrahi but he was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 after doctors said he had terminal cancer and only three months left to live.

The interior minister proposed that the British government ask Libyan authorities to open an investigation inside Libya, and the Libyan side would then share its findings with police in Britain.

But any decision would have to await the election of a new government in Libya, which is expected to vote on a constituent assembly in the last week of June, Abdelali stressed.

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