Terminally-ill convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was rushed to a Tripoli hospital on Sunday, accompanied by a British journalist wanting to know if his release was linked to a trade deal.
Although too ill to respond, his silence has done nothing to dispel speculation surrounding his return to Libya. The UK government has denied a “back door deal” was done although leaked letters show ministers did agree in 2007 to include him in a possible prisoner transfer because of what was called national interests. Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond remains adamant that Megrahi was released from a Scottish jail with no involvement from London. Salmond said: “The right reason was to release a dying man on compassionate grounds and not on any other factor: international politics, trade, whatever oil deals may or may not have been – not allow any of these to affect the decision.” Back in 2003, the British government was negotiating normalising relations with Libya. It was linked to getting Tripoli to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme. On the back of that, various oil deals were made but London insists Megrahi’s release was a separate issue.