Friday 1 February 2013

Lockerbie: Gaddafi's son Saif holds the cards

[This is the headline over a report from Lisa Holland published yesterday on the Sky News website.  It reads in part:]

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's son was sitting opposite me. I met him on several occasions during the months I travelled in and out of Libya before the fall of his father.

Every time we met after asking about the uprising and his father I would enquire about Lockerbie.

He was confident and the response was always the same. He would grin and shrug his shoulders and smile widely at me.

"I've told you," he would say. "You always ask me this."

He always refused to link the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al Megrahi to BP oil deals in the Libyan desert.

But he made one thing clear: Saif Gaddafi chose his words very carefully when he said Libya "accepted responsibility" for the Lockerbie bomb. But he never said Libya admitted guilt.

After the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, countless journalists like me wanted to get the real story from the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al Megrahi.

Many - including some of the families of the Lockerbie victims - do not believe he did it. They believe it was a political fix by the all-powerful Gaddafis to bring about Libya's return to the international fold.

Saif al Islam told me Libya had "accepted" responsibility for the bomb simply to end crippling sanctions which were Libya's punishment.

It was a political deal - and he was a master at brokering them.

Al Megrahi was found guilty and compensation to the Lockerbie victims was paid by Libya.

Supposedly, in Libya's new-found era of democracy, al Megrahi - despite his ill health and deep fragility - should have been able to speak out during his dying days to reveal the truth.

But it was always clear that even after Gaddafi's fall the climate of fear he engendered remained.

Libyans would not suddenly feel able to bare their souls overnight. People believed somehow Gaddafi's brutality could still get them.

And people like al Megrahi kept their secrets. (...)

But in reality the truth is no nearer. Al Megrahi has taken many secrets to his grave.

Various people I spoke to over a period of time whilst Gaddafi was still in power often implied the whole thing had been a set up and looked to other countries in the Middle East and Gulf for a part in the tragedy. (...)

The secrets of Lockerbie are still to be revealed but so too are the gritty details of Libya's rehabilitation from the cold during the cosiness and the negotiations between the Gaddafis and the Blair government.

Under Libya's current state of insecurity the chances of the British police getting anywhere near seem very remote.

But then there is always wheeling and dealing to be done.

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