Tony Blair: Libya “May Not Be Directly” Responsible for Lockerbie Bombing

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair

A disclosed document revealed that the former South African leader, Nelson Mandela told UK Prime Minister Tony Blair that it was “wrong to hold Libya legally responsible for the Lockerbie bombing,” The Guardian reported.

At a meeting in Downing Street in April 2001, Mandela said holding Libya legally responsible for the Lockerbie bombing “is against public international law.”

The then-UK government believed Mandela attempted to play mediator between it and Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi over the question of compensation after the Lockerbie bombing was “unlikely to be helpful.”

According to a record of the meeting by Blair’s foreign policy adviser, John Sawers, later head of MI6, Blair argued that the UK was not “insisting Gaddafi had ordered the Lockerbie bombing, and that the Libyan state may not be directly responsible.”

The record added that “Blair said they were still liable for Abdelbasset Al-Megrahi’s actions, and the Lockerbie trial had found that he had been a member of the Libyan intelligence service when he carried out the bombing.”

In January 2001, Al-Megrahi was convicted of the incident, after a trial in the Netherlands.

Blair added that if Al-Megrahi lost his appeal against conviction, then presumably Libya would have to come to some arrangement on paying compensation.

Sawers wrote that the crucial point was Libyan acceptance of responsibility. “We might even be able to use Mandela back against [Gaddafi] if the Libyans reject a reasonable offer,” he concluded.

Mandela had earlier claimed the UK broke a promise that sanctions would be lifted, rather than merely suspended, if Libya handed over bombing suspects.

Another Libyan suspect in the Lockerbie bombing, Abu Ajila Masoud, was extradited by the Libyan government in mid-December. Abu Ajila is a former Libyan intelligence officer, who allegedly made the bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.

Days after his “kidnapping from his bed in Libya,” Masoud appeared in a US courtroom. But the US said on 21 December, that the extradition of Abu Ajila “was legal and carried out in cooperation with the Libyan authorities”. The Embassy also claims that the United States will not renege on the financial agreement reached in 2008. Washington promised that the civil parties to the criminal trial which will take place in the United States will not be able to claim more money from Libya.

Meanwhile, the Libyan Parliament denounced the step. The Libyan Attorney General, Al-Siddiq Al-Sour announced that his office launched an investigation into the incident.