American senators want Lockerbie bomber back in prison

A GROUP of senators in the United States demanded the Lockerbie bomber be returned to jail, saying the process leading to his release was "incredibly flawed".

The American politicians claimed the freeing of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi on compassionate grounds was based on an "inaccurate prognosis" that the Libyan, who has prostate cancer, had only three months to live.

They said the UK Government played a "direct, critical role" in the decision to free him in August last year, stating that "evidence suggests that UK officials pressured Scotland to facilitate Al Megrahi's release".

And they said the Scottish National Party administration at Holyrood may also have been influenced by the "opportunity to act independently on the world stage" when Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill decided to grant Megrahi his freedom.

The four senators – Robert Menendez, Frank Lautenberg, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand – investigated the Libyan's release.

The vast majority of the 270 people who lost their lives when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie on December 21 1988 were Americans.

Megrahi, the only man convicted of the bombing, remains alive in Tripoli 16 months after being released from jail on compassionate grounds.

A Scottish Government spokesman said the senators' report was a "false interpretation" of events and stressed that "due process" had been followed in every aspect of the case. He said: "This is not an official report of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – it is an incorrect and inaccurate rehash by four senators of material that has been in the public domain for many months, and we entirely reject their false interpretation."

The senators' report – Justice Undone, The Release Of The Lockerbie Bomber – was published on the 22nd anniversary of the atrocity. The inquiry states that there was strong political pressure on the Scottish government to free Megrahi and casts doubt on the competence of the doctors who examined him.

Senator Bob Menendez said: "Commercial and economic considerations trumped our global fight against terrorism."

The investigation claims that officials working under former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown continually pressured Scottish authorities to release Megrahi.

Mr Menendez, along with three other senators, launched the investigation after officials from the UK failed to testify at a Senate foreign relations committee hearing which he was scheduled to chair in July.