October 23, 2011 / 2:10 PM / 8 years ago

U.S. backs probe into circumstances of Gaddafi death

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday backed a possible U.N. investigation into the death of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and called for the convicted Lockerbie bomber to be jailed again.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks about the reports of the killing of former Libyan leder Muammar Gaddafi during her visit to Islamabad October 20, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

There is growing international disquiet about the chaotic scenes surrounding Gaddafi’s apparent summary execution following the fall of his hometown of Sirte on Thursday.

“I would strongly support both a U.N. investigation that has been called for and the investigation that the Transitional National Council said they will conduct,” Clinton told the NBC program “Meet the Press,” referring to Libya’s interim rulers.

“You know, I think it’s important that this new government, this effort to have a democratic Libya, start with the rule of law, start with accountability,” she said.

U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay has called for an investigation into the killing.

Libya’s outgoing prime minister said on Sunday a bullet that hit Muammar Gaddafi’s head may have been fired by one of his own guards during a shootout with government forces in Sirte.

“So I view the investigation on its own merits as important but also as part of a process that will give Libya the best possible chance to navigate toward a stable, secure, democratic future,” Clinton said.

Asked about her feelings after seeing video taken of a bloody and dazed Gaddafi before the former strongman’s death, Clinton told the ABC program “This Week,” “Obviously, no one wants to see any human being in that condition.

“Yet I know what a great relief it was to millions of Libyans that the past was finished and now they can move into a different future without fear and intimidation and try to make up the lost time of 42 years to develop a country that has so much natural wealth and deserves to have a democracy and prosperity,” she said.

Clinton said the United States has raised the issue of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi “in every meeting” with Libya’s new leadership.

Megrahi was found guilty in 2001 of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 as it flew to New York from London on December 21, 1988. All 259 people aboard the aircraft were killed and 11 others on the ground in the Scottish town of Lockerbie also died from falling wreckage.

He was sentenced to life in prison but released by Scottish authorities on compassionate grounds in August 2009 because he was suffering from what was described as terminal cancer. His release angered many relatives of the victims, 189 of whom were American, and the United States criticized the decision.

“We want to see him returned to prison, preferably in Scotland, where he was serving the sentence, but if not, elsewhere, because we thought it was a miscarriage of justice that he was released from the sentence that had been imposed for the ghastly bombing of Pan Am 103,” Clinton told ABC.

During an interview with Reuters on October 3 from a bed at his Tripoli home, Megrahi looked frail and his breathing was labored. He said he had only a few months, at most, to live.

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