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Liable to the Libyans
With the news that doctors were ‘encouraged’ by the Libyans to conclude that the Lockerbie bomber had only three months to live, and Jack Straw’s admission of using the prisoner to secure trade deals, the UK can no longer deny the obvious.
September 6, 2009 3:21 by Dana El Baltaji
The Libyans threatened to abandon plans to open a London office for their sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority – valued at $136 billion – if al-Megrahi died in jail. They also threatened to cancel trade talks with the UK, which includes a $900 million oil exploration deal between BP and Libya signed in January 2008. The deal was made after the UK agreed to facilitate the prisoner’s transfer to Libya.
The UK government worked with the Libyans and al-Megrahi’s legal team to release him before July 2009 as part of a Prisoner Transfer Agreement (RTA). Upon learning of the agreement, the United States blocked the PTA, saying it wanted al-Megrahi to die in jail. Out of the 270 people killed in the Lockerbie bombing, 186 were American.
His subsequent release on August 20, therefore, raised eyebrows globally. The UK faced public criticism over its decision to free him, and was accused of using his release to secure its business interests in the North African nation, which the UK government denied.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday announced that “there was no conspiracy, no cover-up, no double dealing, no deal on oil, no attempt to instruct Scottish ministers.” But apparently, there was.
Jack Straw, the UK Justice Secretary, admitted that al-Megrahi’s release was, in fact, part of the negotiation process.
When asked by the Daily Telegraph if trade and BP were factors in the deal, Straw said: “Yes, [they were] a very big part of that. I’m unapologetic about that… Libya was a rogue state.”