Lockerbie questions for Libyan foreign minister

 

BRITISH PRIME minister David Cameron has said Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa will be made available to Scottish prosecutors who want to interview him in connection with the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

Mr Cameron and foreign secretary William Hague insisted that the one-time chief of Col Muammar Gadafy’s intelligence agency was not granted immunity before he flew to London.

“Let me be clear. Moussa Koussa is not being granted immunity. There is no deal of that kind,” Mr Cameron said yesterday at Downing Street alongside Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “The point I would make about . . . Lockerbie that investigation is still open and the police and the prosecuting authorities . . . should follow their evidence wherever it leads. The Government will assist them in any way possible . . . we’ll respond to any requests that they make.”

Jim Swire, whose daughter was killed in the bombing but who believes that Syria rather than Libya was to blame, said Mr Koussa would be “a peerless source of information” and was “in the best position of anyone other than Gadafy himself to tell us what the regime knows or did”.

The Scottish Crown Office and Dumfries and Galloway detectives said they wanted to question him about Lockerbie, while Libyan rebels insisted that he would have to be returned to Tripoli to face a charge of crimes against humanity if they topple Col Gadafy.

Mr Koussa, who has denied that he was involved in the Lockerbie bombing, negotiated the hand-over in 2001 for trial of two people charged with the attack – Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Mr Al-Amin Khalifah Fhimah – and Mr al-Megrahi’s subsequent release.

In Benghazi, spokesman for the Libyan revolutionary council Mustafa Gheriani said Mr Koussa had been responsible for assassinating anti-Gadafy exiles and also for repression at home. He had “blood” on his hands, he said.

Mr Cameron said Mr Koussa’s decision to defect points to a compelling story of desperation and fear at the heart of the crumbling Gadafy regime.

“We had been appealing to people around Gadafy, saying ‘if you don’t want to go down with this regime that is doing dreadful things to its own people then leave now. Split away now, give up now’. And it is heartening that someone has done that.”

In Tripoli the Gadafy regime downplayed the significance of Mr Koussa’s defection, saying that he had been given permission to leave for medical treatment and had now quit for personal reasons. “That’s his personal decision. The battle for Libya to be independent and free does not depend on one person or one individual. But on the hundreds and thousands and millions of Libyans such as the young men and women leading the fight for Libyan independence,” said a Gadafy spokesman.

The opposition-linked Democratic Libya Information Bureau has claimed that other defections, including that of the oil minister, the secretary of parliament and a deputy foreign minister are imminent. – (Additional reporting: Reuters)