British minister refuses to go to U.S. Senate on release of Lockerbie bomber

10:14, July 24, 2010      

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British former Justice Secretary and current shadow Deputy Prime Minister Jack Straw on Friday refused an invite at last by a United States Senate committee to speak at an inquiry into the release of the Lockerbie bomber, while the Scottish government has refused an invite for current Scottish justice secretary to attend the same committee.

Initially, Straw, a former justice secretary and also a former foreign secretary, said he would have to consult with Foreign Office and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown before agreeing to the request.

"I have no objection in principle to explaining the background to the prisoner transfer agreement with Libya. Indeed, I have done so on a number of occasions before the United Kingdom parliament," he said. "However, before coming to any decision as to whether to accept this invitation I shall be consulting Gordon Brown, as prime minister at the time, and seeking the advice of the Foreign Office."

"It is, in my experience, highly unusual for the legislature of one sovereign state to conduct an inquiry into decisions of another sovereign state, including, as in this case, decisions by a devolved administration on the release of a prisoner," he added.

Straw was justice secretary of the British government at the time of the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan national who is the only man to be convicted for the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.

A bomb destroyed the flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie as it flew from London to the United States, killing 270 people. Al-Magrahi was convicted of the crime by a Scottish court in 2001 and was in prison until his release on compassionate grounds in August, 2009, when he was said to be suffering from terminal cancer, with only three months to live. He is still alive.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee will next week hold an inquiry into the link between the release of al-Megrahi and lobbying by BP, which secured large energy contracts in Libya.

It is uncertain if Straw will attend, and attendance by foreign nationals at a U.S. senate committee is not obligatory.

However, Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary for the Scottish government, the devolved parliament with powers over justice and prisons in Scotland, will not attend, said the Scottish government.

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(Editor:李牧(实习))

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