Libya rebels say won't extradite Lockerbie bomber

Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:44pm GMT

By Mohammed Abbas

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya will not extradite Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing, a minister in Libya's rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) said on Sunday.

"We will not give any Libyan citizen to the West," Mohammed al-Alagi, the NTC justice minister, told reporters in Tripoli. The NTC became Libya's de facto government after rebels streamed into the capital last week, overthrowing leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"Al-Megrahi has already been judged once and he will not be judged again ... We do not hand over Libyan citizens. Gaddafi does," Alagi added.

Megrahi, who had been diagnosed with cancer, served eight years in a Scottish prison for orchestrating the bombing of the Pan Am passenger plane which blew up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 killing 270 people.

He was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds after doctors gave him only months to live.

Megrahi's release angered politicians in the United States -- where many of the victims of the bombing came from. Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron later said the decision by Scotland's justice minister was a mistake.

Gaddafi's fall has prompted expectations in some Western capitals that Libya's new leaders can be persuaded to extradite him. But that would be politically unpopular in Libya, where Megrahi is widely viewed as an innocent pawn in a political game.

RELEASE WAS "WRONG"   Continued...

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi (L), who was convicted for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing over Scotland, sits in a wheelchair as he attends a pro-government rally in Tripoli in this still image from a July 26, 2011 video from Libyan state television.
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