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BP denies link to Lockerbie case
BP says it lobbied UK over Libyan prisoner transfer but did not mention al-Megrahi.
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2010 11:14 GMT
Al-Megrahi was released from prison in Scotland last year on compassionate grounds [EPA]

Oil company BP has said it lobbied the British goverment over a Libyan prisoner transfer agreement three years ago in order to protect UK commercial interests, but did not influence the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

The statement follows a call by US senators for an investigation into whether BP played a role in securing last year's release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi.

The man convicted of the 1988 airline bombing that killed 270 people was released from a Scottish prison last August on compassionate grounds after doctors said he was near death.

Nearly a year later, the alleged Libyan intelligence officer is still alive.

BP signed an exploration agreement with Libya in May 2007, the same month Britain and Libya signed a memorandum of understanding that led to al-Megrahi's release.

But the company said on Thursday that it had not been involved in discussions regarding the release of al-Megrahi.

"The decision to release al-Megrahi in August 2009 was taken by the Scottish government. BP was not involved in any such discussions about the release of al-Megrahi," the statement said.

"BP told the UK government that we were concerned about the slow progress that was being made in concluding a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya.
 
"We were aware that this could have a negative impact on UK commercial interests, including the ratification by the Libyan government of BP's exploration agreement."

Senators' action

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said on Wednesday she would look into a request by four US senators to investigate BP's role in the al-Megrahi case.

The senators' action follows admission by Karol Sikora, a British cancer expert, to a newspaper earlier this week that al-Megrahi's survival past a three-month prognosis was "embarrassing".

Charles Schumer, senator from New York, said the evidence indicating BP had been involved was circumstantial - "but very strongly circumstantial".

"The bottom line is simple, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it just might be a corrupt deal between BP, the British government and Libya," he said.

"If BP is truly dealing in good faith and has nothing to hide it should co-operate with such an investigation."

The four Democrats said they were concerned that BP may have put profits ahead of justice in al-Megrahi's case, given the energy firm's current handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

"If BP is found to have gained access to Libyan oil reserves by using a mass murderer as a bargaining chip, then make no mistake any money it makes off of that oil is blood money, pure and simple," Robert Menendez, another senator, said.

Source:
Agencies
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