Straw attacked over
moves to send Megrahi back to Libya
April 22 2009
Relatives of those who lost their lives in the Lockerbie disaster have
accused Jack Straw of hypocrisy over moves to clear the way for the man
convicted of the bombing to return home.
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi,
currently serving 27 years in Greenock Prison for the mass murder over
Scotland, could be transferred home to Libya under an agreement being
rushed through parliament by the UK Justice Secretary.
However, Families Flight 103, a
group of friends and relatives of those who lost their lives in the 1988
terror attack, issued a statement accusing Mr Straw of back-tracking on
his earlier sympathy for the bereaved.
"As Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw
said in a meeting with representatives of UK Families Flight 103 in 2003
that, if he had been in government at the time of the bombing, he would
have instigated an immediate inquiry into the intelligence aspects of what
happened," the group said.
"As Secretary of State for Justice,
despite his sympathies expressed at the meeting, Mr Straw is now
responsible for putting an obstacle in the way of the families' search for
the truth about Lockerbie."
The Herald revealed last week that
relatives of the Lockerbie dead had received letters from senior legal
officials which were seen as a warning that the man convicted of the
killings was likely to be granted a transfer to his home country of Libya,
part of a new agreement between the UK and the African nation that is
likely to be ratified early next week.
Megrahi, who is suffering from
advanced prostate cancer, is due to begin appeal proceedings at the Court
of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh on April 28. Prisoners still engaged in
criminal proceedings would not be eligible for repatriation under the
terms of the agreement.
The decision on Megrahi's transfer
would ultimately rest with the Scottish Government, and while Alex Salmond
has stated he will serve the remainder of his sentence in Scotland, there
have been indications in recent months that governments on both sides of
the border are preparing for the transfer.
The Westminster Joint Select
Committee on Human Rights called last month for the ratification of the
agreement to be delayed until at least the end of April, pending
investigation into concerns over the content of the treaty.
However, Families 103 have accused
Mr Straw of "riding roughshod" over the committee's request and ploughing
ahead with his own agenda to have the agreement ratified as soon as
The Justice Secretary insisted
earlier this month that the treaty must go ahead early because "a delay
beyond early April is likely to lead to serious questions on the part of
Libya in regards to our willingness to conclude" the deal.
But last night the Lockerbie
relatives called on Mr Straw to consider their feelings before passing the
new agreement into law.
"We will be reminding the government
not to overlook the human rights of the relatives and friends of the 270
people who were murdered over Lockerbie in December 1988," the statement
said. These rights must come before any potential diplomatic embarrassment
that might be caused by a delay in the ratification of the prisoner
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