Wed, Aug 31, 2011
'It Was Gadhafi Who Handed Over Libyan Citizens'
Any thoughts that the new government being set up by Libyan
rebels will work better with the west are fading. Last week, the
rebels announced their new constitution will be based on the
principles of Sharia law, a disappointment to those who had hoped
for a secular regime. On Sunday, the transitional government's
justice minister, Mohammed al-Alagi, announced that the new regime
will not extradite Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, a former Libyan
intelligence officer who was found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie
In 2009, the government of Scotland, where al-Megrahi was
imprisoned, claimed his death from prostate cancer was imminent,
and released him after only eight years of his life sentence.
Family members of some victims were outraged at what they saw as a
political decision to sooth relations with a major potential oil
supplier. When he arrived back in Tripoli, a waiting throng gave
al-Megrahi a hero's welcome, and he met with Colonel Moammar
The Associated Press reports the two US senators from New York
last week asked the Libyan national transitional government to hold
al-Megrahi fully accountable for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103,
which killed 270 people. Senator Charles Schumer noted, "A new
Libya can send a strong statement to the world by declaring it will
no longer be a haven for this convicted terrorist."
But al-Alagi replied that Schumer's statement had "no meaning"
because Mr. Megrahi had already been tried and convicted. He added,
"We will not hand over any Libyan citizen. It was Gadhafi who
handed over Libyan citizens."
But he appeared to soften his tone in comments Monday, noting
the decision to release al-Megrahi was made by a sovereign
government that had not requested his return. He deferred further
action until after a new Libyan government is in place. In the
meantime, al-Megrahi is reported to be slipping in and out of
consciousness, and near death.
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