'Gaddafi ordered Lockerbie bombing'

The former justice minister tells a Swedish tabloid he has proof that Gaddafi ordered Abdel Baset al-Megrahi to bomb.

    Gaddafi has accepted Libya's responsibility for the bombing but hasn't admitted personally giving the order[GALLO/GETTY]

    Libya's ex-justice minister has been quoted as telling a Swedish newspaper that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people in 1988.

    The former justice minister, reported to have resigned this week over the violence used by the government against protesters, told a Stockholm-based tabloid Expressen on Wednesday, he had evidence Gaddafi ordered the bombing.

    “I have proof that Gaddafi gave the order about Lockerbie,'' Mustafa Abdel-Jalil was quoted as saying in an interview with Expressen.

    Expressen's online edition said its correspondent interviewed Abdel-Jalil outside the local parliament in the Libyan city of Al Bayda.

    Gaddafi has accepted Libya's responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground, and paid compensation to the victims' families. But he hasn't admitted personally giving the order for the attack.

    Abdel-Jalil told Expressen that Gaddafi gave the order to Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the bombing.

    “To hide it, he (Gaddafi) did everything in his power to get al-Megrahi back from Scotland,'' Abdel-Jalil was quoted as saying.

    Al-Megrahi released

    In 2009, the Scottish government freed al-Megrahi on humanitarian grounds after doctors said he had terminal prostate cancer, a decision strongly criticised by the United States. He returned to Libya and is still alive.

    Expressen spokeswoman Alexandra Forslund said its reporter in Libya, Kassem Hamade, taped the 40-minute interview, which was conducted in Arabic and translated to Swedish.

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

    Before the unrest broke out, Gaddafi had been trying to transform Libya from a pariah state to an accepted member of the international community.

    He renounced terrorism and his programme for weapons of mass destruction, and paid billions of dollars in compensation to families of Lockerbie victims.

    Those decisions paved the way for warmer relations with the West and the lifting of UN and US sanctions.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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