Gaddafi ordered Lockerbie bombing, former minister says


Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi arrives at Glasgow airport to board a plane after arriving from Greenock Prison on Aug. 20, 2009 in Glasgow, Scotland. Abdelbaset ali al-Megrahi had been serving a life sentence for the 1988 Pan-AM flight 103 Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 people. Megrahi, who is terminally ill with prostate cancer, served eight years of a life sentence and following today's decision, has been released on compassionate grounds to go home to spend his remaining days with his family in Libya.


Danny Lawson

Muammar Gaddafi personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people in 1988, Libya's former justice minister has claimed.

Swedish newspaper Expressen said Mustafa Abdel-Jalil told its correspondent in Libya: "I have proof that Gaddafi gave the order about Lockerbie."

Abdel-Jalil stepped down as justice minister in protest against the violence against anti-government demonstrations. He did not describe the proof allegedly in his possession.

He told Expressen that Gaddafi gave the order to Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, which killed all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground.

"To hide it, [Gaddafi] did everything in his power to get al-Megrahi back from Scotland," Abdel-Jalil said.

Megrahi was granted a compassionate release from a Scottish prison in August 2009 on the grounds that he was suffering from prostate cancer and would die soon. 

His health "greatly improved" once he was home in Libya, said Gaddafi's son, Seif, in March last year. Seif al-Gaddafi also admitted that the convicted killer's release had dominated trade talks with Britain at the time, according to the Daily Mail, confirming suspicions of the victims' families that the two issues were linked. 

Gaddafi announced in 2003 that he was abandoning his program for weapons of mass destruction and renouncing terrorism. He also accepted Libya's responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and paid compensation to the victims' families.

But he has not admitted personally giving the order for the attack.

Most of the victims in the Lockerbie bombing were Americans, and al-Megrahi's release has been criticized by members of the U.S. Congress and the victims' families.

The Expressen reporter, Kassem Hamade, interviewed the Abdel-Jalil at "in a large city in Libya." The comments were translated from Arabic to Swedish, the paper's spokesman Alexandra Forslund said.

Muammar Gaddafi has ordered a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters in recent days. Amid defections by top-ranking officials and army officers, several parts of the country have declared their independence and set up informal opposition governments.