- (Reuters/Ismail Zetouny)
In a meeting with senior members of Libya’s National Transitional Council, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told opposition leaders that they must “deal” with the Abdel Baset al-Megrahi Lockerbie bomber case.
The U.S. State Department has already asked the TNC to review the case once they establish a fully functioning government.
In Thursday’s meeting, Clinton added that the United States did not agree with the Scottish decision to release the prisoner and announced that the Obama administration will be watching closely as to how the new leaders handle the case.
Megrahi is the only person that has been convicted for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that occurred aboard Pan AM Flight 103 and resulted in the deaths of 270 people.
The bombing is very close to the hearts of many Americans as 178 of the 270 killed aboard the flight were American citizens, many of them college students heading home for the holidays.
Megrahi was convicted of the crime in 2001. He was released from a Scottish prison in 2009 on “humanitarian grounds” due to his ailing health. A stanch Gaddafi supporter, Megrahi returned to his native Libya with a hero’s welcome.
However, the decision to release the bomber has been extremely controversial and has sparked a debate about his innocence and the possible political motives behind the case.
Some argue that Megrahi is an innocent scapegoat of a politically motivated United States.
Tom Dalyell, a "professor of Lockerbie studies," argues that in the 20 years that he has conducted research into the attack he has concluded that Megrahi was innocently convicted because the United States was heading into the first Iraq war, and it did not want any problems with either Syria or Iran, who were both harboring the real perpetrators of the crime.
Dalyell added, "In my informed opinion, al-Megrahi has been the victim of one of the most spectacular (and expensive) miscarriages of justice in history."
However, others are infuriated by the release and call for the extradition of Megrahi, who is near death.
The Scottish government, though, will not extradite its former prisoner and Megrahi’s brother, Abdel-Nasser al-Megrahi, argues that it should not.
He said in a statement, “He is between life and death, so what difference would prison make?”
Even with Megrahi on his deathbed, Clinton did not adjust the American stance on the issue, and expressed to the TNC that Americans will await a "just and appropriate response" to American concerns.