Undated Crown Office handout of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of murdering 270 people by blowing up Pan-Am flight 103 over Lockerbie 13 years earlier, but has always denied any involvement.
That troubling question being raised by U.S. Senators who used words like “moral outrage,” “shameful” and a “slap to the face” in describing the reports that there were commercial interests behind Abdel Baset al-Megrahi’s release.
Senators Charles Schumer, Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg angrily demanded an investigation today into the murderer’s release and BP’s dealings with oil-rich Libya.
“It is shocking to even contemplate that BP is profiting from the release of a terrorist with the blood of 189 Americans on his hands," Senator Lautenberg wrote in press release, ...The families of the victims of Pan Am flight 103 deserve to know whether justice took a back seat to commercial interests in this case.”
Schumer added: it “smells rotten.”
“The stench [of al-Megrahi’s release] is rising,” said Schumer, after the Scottish government last week rejected the Senator’s petition to investigate the convicted terrorist’s release. Allegations have become especially potent after BP announced just last month it would begin drilling for oil off the coast of Libya.
“The decision by the Scottish government to reject our request to reinvestigate the decision to release this terrorist raises more suspicions as to whether there was a rotten deal between the United Kingdom and the Libya government,” said Schumer. “So we’re calling on the State Department to put a full court press on the United Kingdom to return this terrorist to prison.”
BP had no comment. The British Consulate also had no comment but directed questions to the letter the British Ambassador sent to the US Senators.
Al-Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds based on a 3-month prognosis given by Dr. Karol Sikora, a Libyan-commissioned doctor. Last week, Sikora revealed that “the figure of three months was suggested as being helpful [by the Libyans]” and the convicted mass-murderer may live for another 20 years in freedom.
In January 2001, Al-Megrahi was convicted of killing 270 people in the December 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Schumer noted that many New York college students returning for the holidays were among those killed.
The convicted terrorist was given life in prison but received a hero's welcome in Libya when he was released in April. Al-Megrahi now spends his time writing a book about his life and profiting from his "horrible, dastardly deed," said Schumer.
Jonathan Dienst WNBC