Schumer Wants Pan Am 103 Bomber Back in Jail - NBC New York

Schumer Wants Pan Am 103 Bomber Back in Jail

Terminally ill bomber was released on compassionate grounds



    Schumer Wants Pan Am 103 Bomber Back in Jail
    Getty Images
    Megrahi, who is terminally ill with prostate cancer, served eight years of a life sentence and has been released on compassionate grounds to go home to spend his remaining days with his family in Libya.

    The terrorist behind the Pan Am 103 bombing is still alive inside Libya nearly three months after he was released from a Scottish prison. And New York Sen. Charles Schumer wants him back in jail.

    British officials had said bomber Abdul Al-Megrahi was set free on compassionate grounds because he had less than three months to live.

    Schumer called on the Libyans to send Al-Megrahi back to Britain to continue his prison sentence since the terrorist is outliving the terms of his release.

    "The bottom line is Megrahi should never have been released in the first place," Schumer said Thursday. 
    Megrahi's release outraged relatives of the 270 victims of the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing. Megrahi was cheered by a large, flag-waving crowd when he arrived back in Tripoli aboard a chartered jetliner after serving just eight years in prison for his role in helping plant the bomb. Pan Am 103 blew apart over the skies of Lockerbie, Scotland. killing all 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground. Among those killed, dozens of college students returning home for the Christmas holiday. 
    "His compassionate release was his life sentence in prison," said Burt Ammerman, whose brother was killed on the flight. Ammerman said Megrahi should be still be behind bars. "I blame British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Obama administration for allowing this to happen. If the White House had wanted to stop this release they could have. So shame on Brown

    New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg also said al-Megrahi should be jailed again.

     “I have said from day one that Mr. al-Megrahi should have remained behind bars," said Lautenberg.  "I was outraged by his release and sickened by the hero’s welcome he received when he returned to Libya.   I am further troubled by the mounting evidence against the case that was made for Mr. al-Megrahi’s release.  My thoughts are with the families that must now relive this tragedy.”

    Some relatives of the victims have said they believe the release was part of a deal for future British oil deals with Libya. 
    Megrahi was released on August 20. Nov. 20 marks the third month of his release. 
    A spokesman for the British Consulate in New York referred all calls to the Scottish Executive. A spokeswoman for Scottish Justice Minister Kenny Macaskill said that at the time of Megrahi's release, it was understood he might die some time before -- or after -- the three month mark. 

    "Having cancer is not an exact science," the spokeswoman said. 
    In response to Sen. Schumer's call that Megrahi be immediately returned to a Scottish prison, she said, "For Megrahi to be recalled, he would need to breech one or more conditions of his license. Not dying withing three months is not one of those conditions."
    A U.S. State Department spokesman re-stated what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the time of the release -- that "it was wrong." A call to the Libyan Mission to the United Nations was not immediately returned. 
    In July, Scottish Justice Minister Macaskill had denied future oil deals were the reason Megrahi was set free.  He said Megrahi was set free because the terrorist was suffering from terminal prostate cancer and should be allowed to die at home in Libya. His spokeswoman again said the release was made on "purely compassionate grounds."
    In 2003, the Libyan government accepted responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am 103. Libya has agreed to pay $2.7 billion to the families of the victims.

    In an interview in September with NBC, Prime Minister Brown said oil was not a factor.
    "There was no deal. I can give you an absolute and unconditional assurance. There was no deal on oil, there was no deal on anything else. There was no double dealing. There was no conspiracy," Brown said. "I just want to assure people, there was no deal. We understand the feelings of people in America and all those who suffered as a result of the bombing."


    Jonathan Dienst WNBC

    WNBC Jonathan Dienst