Saturday 19 November 2022

Libyan official warns against raising the Lockerbie issue

[This is the headline over a report published today on the Trend Detail News website. It reads in part:]

Ibrahim Bushnaf, the Libyan National Security Adviser, warned against deliberately raising the issue of the Pan Am 103 plane that crashed over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, and said that this issue “if it was raised again and became the subject of a criminal investigation, Libya would enter into decades of lawlessness. Only God knows its end.”

This warning comes amid current allegations that there is a [move] inside the country to hand over the Libyan citizen Abu Ajila Masoud, who is suspected of participating in the bombing of the plane, to the Americans, but [these] allegations remain against the backdrop of a political division between the two fronts in western and eastern Libya.

On February 6, 2021, statements were attributed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the interim “unity” government, Najla al-Manqoush, in which she expressed her cooperation with the possibility of her country working with the United States to extradite Abu Ajila, but she quickly retracted it at the time, and said that she “did not mention that text.” But she was answering a question about the Lockerbie case.

Bushnaf said, in a statement today (Friday), that “before US President Donald Trump left the White House, the Attorney General during his reign, William Barr, raised the (Lockerbie) case, what was reported at the time that he was calling on the Libyan authorities to extradite the Libyan citizen Abu Aguila Masoud, allegedly related to this case.

Bushnaf said, “Because we are aware of the details of the agreement that ended the conflict with the United States, we formed a legal and political team at the time, affiliated with the office of the Libyan Minister of Interior at the time, to follow up on the developments of the request.”

He explained: “The basis for the work of this team is that the Libyan state at the time of the previous regime insisted that the basis of the settlement is limited only to its civil liability for the actions of its subordinates without criminal liability. The settlement also included that any claims after the date of signing are directed to the United States government.”

Bushnaf pointed out that “statements attributed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs circulated last year on this issue, so the Prime Minister (Abdul Hamid al-Dabaiba) addressed us with a [text] that did not deviate from the content of this speech.”

Bushnaq went on to warn against raising the Lockerbie issue, calling on “all patriots and political entities in the country to line up to prevent this, away from the political conflict.”

And in December 2021, the US Department of Justice had previously charged the Libyan, Abu Ageila, with his “involvement in planning and manufacturing the bomb” that brought down the plane over Lockerbie during its flight from London to New York, killing 270 people, including 189 Americans.

At the time, William Barr demanded that the Libyan authorities in Tripoli quickly extradite Abu Ageila, who is under arrest, to be brought to trial in the United States. US officials said that Abu Ageila made confessions to the Libyan authorities in 2012 of his involvement in the Lockerbie bombing, and that these confessions were handed over to the Scottish authorities.

Abu Ageila is a former Libyan intelligence official, who is currently being held in a prison in the capital, Tripoli, on charges not related to the Lockerbie case. In 2003, Muammar Gaddafi’s regime officially acknowledged its responsibility for the Lockerbie attack and agreed to pay $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the victims. Al-Megrahi, who was sentenced to 27 years, was released for health reasons in 2009, but he died in 2012 at the age of 60 in Libya. [RB: What Libya acknowledged was "responsibility for the acts of its officials". The regime did not admit that it had ordered the bombing:]

The Libyan intelligence officer, Abd al-Basit al-Megrahi, was considered the main suspect in the bombing of the plane, and he was sentenced to 27 years in prison, but he was released in 2009 after he was diagnosed with the last stage of prostate cancer. Following an indication from the Daily Mail newspaper that Iran might be involved in the case, al-Megrahi’s family demanded compensation for the period he spent in prison, while several parallel demands arose in Libyan cities, talking about “the possibility of recovering the compensation paid by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime to the families of the Lockerbie victims.”

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