September 28, 2011 / 5:13 PM / 9 years ago

Libya ready to probe possible other Lockerbie suspects

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya’s interim justice minister Mohammed al-Alagi said on Wednesday he was ready to work with Scottish authorities to probe the possible involvement of others in the Lockerbie bombing apart from the sole Libyan convicted for the attack.

A man's shadow is seen on the memorial to those killed in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing in Lockerbie, Scotland, August 20, 2009. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

His remark at news conference reversed a position he took only on Monday, when he said that as far as Libya was concerned the case of the bombing of the U.S.-bound airliner over the Scottish village of Lockerbie with the loss of 270 lives was closed.

Scottish prosecutors had asked Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) to give them access to papers or witnesses that could implicate more suspects in the attack, possibly including deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Asked on Wednesday about his response to this request, he said through an interpreter: “I’d like to confirm that we are accepting any facts that might arise in this regard, if there is any suspicion about any other person.”

He added: “We will cooperate in this regard with whoever has any other facts, according to international treaties.”

Former Libyan agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was convicted of the bombing in 2001 and sent to a Scottish prison to serve a life sentence. The Scottish government released him and sent him back to Libya on compassionate grounds in 2009 because he had cancer and was thought to have only months to live.

Another Libyan was acquitted of the case.

Megrahi’s release and return to a hero’s welcome in Libya angered many in Britain and the United States, home to most of the Lockerbie victims.

Alagi added on Wednesday that he welcomed the possibility of an investigation into the possibility of others’ culpability because “this will lead to the acquittal of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who has been unjustly convicted in this case.”

Scottish prosecutors noted that Megrahi’s trial court had accepted he had not acted alone. Police at the time said they had submitted a list of eight other suspects whom they wanted to interview but that Gaddafi had refused to allow them to be questioned.

In March, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Libya’s former justice minister and now its interim leader, said he had evidence of Gaddafi’s involvement in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

Megrahi’s co-accused at the specially convened Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands in 2000 was Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, who was cleared of mass murder.

He told Sweden’s Expressen newspaper last month that Gaddafi should be tried in court over widespread suspicions he ordered the bombing.

“There is a court and he is the one to explain whether he is innocent or not,” Fhimah said. “He has to.”

Reporting By William Maclean

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