Thursday, 24 December 2015

24 December 2007: Libya anticipates Megrahi's return

[On this date in 2007 I posted on this blog an item that reads as follows:]

Al-Megrahi May Come Home Very Soon

Today the Libyaonline website runs an article, apparently from the Tripoli Post, with this title. Again, it embodies the assumption that, because the United Kingdom Government and Libya have concluded a prisoner transfer agreement and because Mr Megrahi is not specifically excluded from its operation, therefore he will soon be heading home to Tripoli. This is a quite unwarranted assumption. It is the Scottish Government, not the UK Government, that must consent to any transfer. I have seen no indication anywhere that such consent is likely to be forthcoming or, indeed, that any approaches have been made to the Scottish Ministers to sound them out.

[The website in question no longer exists as a news aggregation site. However, the article is still to be found on The Tripoli Post website. It reads as follows:]

The innocent Libyan citizen, Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi, who have been unfairly convicted of the Lockerbie bombing and has been in a Scottish prison since 2001, may soon come home. 

Britain is about to sign a Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) with Libya which will pave the way for the eventual return of Al-Megrahi to Tripoli. A letter was sent by Jack Straw, the British Justice Secretary, to Tripoli Wednesday night outlining the agreement.

According to The Scotsman quoting Thursday unidentified source, "Jack Straw will be signing the prisoner transfer agreement with Libya tonight. Megrahi will not be listed in the treaty as somebody who is specifically excluded." 

"The Libyans would not agree to that. But as Kenny MacAskill discussed with Jack, there is a safeguard in that Scottish ministers will have to decide in each transfer case from a Scottish prison,” The Scotsman added.

The deal comes just 48 hours before the 19th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the town of Lockerbie, which claimed 270 lives in 1988.

New evidence has recently published including an inclusively crucial affidavit from Eng Ulrich Lumpert, to definitely exonerate Mr Al-Megrahi and Libya from any participation in the bombing of PanAm 103.

A Scottish Government source said Justice Secretary Jack Straw spoke to his opposite number north of the border, Kenny MacAskill, and told him Abdelbaset al-Megrahi would not be excluded from the Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) expected to be finalised soon, the Associated Press reported.

Al-Megrahi, who is serving life in Greenock Prison, is currently pursuing a second appeal against his 2001 conviction for bombing Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21 1988.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair signed a memorandum of understanding during a visit to Libya in May 2007, kicking off negotiations on an agreement allowing the transfer of prisoners between the justice systems of the two countries.

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