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Lockerbie over, time for business: Gaddafi's son

Lockerbie release was about oil: British poll

نشر في:

There is no reason to be angry about the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son said Friday, calling for improved business and trade ties with the oil-rich country while an opinion poll released in Britain showed Britons suspect the release of the Lockerbie bomber was connected to their country's oil interests in Libya.

In remarks likely to fuel anger in the United States, Seif al-Islam told Scottish newspaper The Herald that many Lockerbie victims' families backed the release.

And he accused some politicians of trying to manipulate the issue "to their own advantage."

He also insisted that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, who was released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds this month, was an innocent man.

"Lockerbie is history. The next step is fruitful and productive business with Edinburgh and London. Libya is a promising, rich market and so let's talk about the future," he said.

"There is no reason for people to be angry. Why be so angry? This is an innocent man who is dying," he added.

Megrahi, who is dying of prostate cancer, was the only person convicted of the 1988 plane bombing over the Scottish town of Lockerbie which killed 270 people. Most of the victims were American.

The Scottish government has insisted the decision to release Megrahi was based solely on compassionate grounds, rebutting allegations it was part of a British deal to secure trade and other concessions from oil-rich Libya.

Gaddafi's son was quoted last week as saying that the Megrahi's release was linked to trade deals with Britain -- but in the Scottish broadsheet he said his comments had been misrepresented.

He said a 2007 Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) with Britain was directly linked to talks on trade and oil -- but denied that Megrahi's release on compassionate grounds had been part of such a deal.

"The PTA was one animal and the other was the compassionate release," he said. "They are two completely different animals... He was released for completely different reasons," he said.

Lockerbie is history. The next step is fruitful and productive business with Edinburgh and London. Libya is a promising, rich market and so let's talk about the future

Seif al-Islam Gaddafi

No hero's welcome

Gaddafi's son also defended the hero's welcome given to Megrahi on his return to Libya -- which triggered fury in Washington, London and Edinburgh -- saying Tripoli could have organized something much more high profile.

"There was no official celebration, no guards of honor, no fireworks and no parade. We could have arranged a much better reception," he said.

Politicians were exploiting the case for their own ends, he said.

"Most of the families of the victims in Scotland have written to us to say they are pro the decision and more than 20 percent of the American families say they have no objection."

There was no official celebration, no guards of honor, no fireworks and no parade. We could have arranged a much better reception

Seif al-Islam Gaddafi

Suspicions arise

Many Britons suspect the release of the Lockerbie bomber last week was connected to Britain's oil interests in Libya, an opinion poll released Friday said.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds and returned to his home in Libya, sparking anger from the US administration and US relatives of the victims.

Megrahi, who is dying of prostate cancer, was the only person convicted of the 1988 plane bombing over the Scottish town of Lockerbie which killed 270 people. Most of the victims of the attack were American.

The Scottish government has insisted the decision to release Megrahi was based solely on compassionate grounds amid allegations it was part of a British deal to secure trade and other concessions from oil-rich Libya.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "angry" and "repulsed" at the hero's welcome given to Megrahi in Libya, but declined to say directly whether he agreed with Scotland's decision to release him.

The poll for The Times newspaper showed widespread public suspicion about the release as well as criticism of Brown's handling of the issue.

Forty five percent of Britons thought the release had more to do with oil than Megrahi's terminal illness, while 24 percent disagreed.

Sixty one percent of those polled disagreed with the decision to return Megrahi to Libya, with 27 percent agreeing.

On the issue of the handling of the controversy, 56 percent said Brown dealt badly with it, compared with 23 percent who said he had done well.

Most thought the Scottish administration and its justice secretary had also badly handled the matter.

Brown remained silent on the issue for five days despite the furor over the release, saying it was a matter for the devolved Scottish government.

Most of the families of the victims in Scotland have written to us to say they are pro the decision and more than 20 percent of the American families say they have no objection

Seif al-Islam Gaddafi