July 15, 2010

Gillibrand Asks Chairman Kerry To Hold Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing Into Lockerbie Matter

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), is formally requesting that SFRC Chairman John Kerry hold a hearing on the freeing of the Pan Am Flight 103 bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. Senator Gillibrand supports the request of her colleague on the committee, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), to chair the hearing.

“We have seen an abundance of circumstantial evidence that the British and Scottish governments may have circumvented justice and organized his release in order to secure a lucrative oil drilling concession for British Petroleum,” wrote Senator Gillibrand.  “If true, this would be outrageous and demands immediate scrutiny.  One hundred ninety Americans, including many students and families from New York, died in the Lockerbie bombing.”

In 2001, al-Megrahi was convicted in the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people, including 189 Americans. He was released ten months ago on compassionate grounds after a medical prognosis estimated that he had three months to live. In recent days, a doctor involved in making that prognosis – who had been paid by the Libyan government – acknowledged that al-Megrahi could live another decade and that the Libyan government specifically pressed for a three month prognosis to satisfy Scottish judicial requirements for compassionate release.

Senator Gillibrand's full letter to Senator Kerry is below:

Dear Senator Kerry,

I am extremely distressed by new information that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi – the one person convicted for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 – is alive and well and living in freedom in Lybia eleven months after his release on humanitarian grounds from prison in Scotland.  As you know, he was released last August based on a medical assessment that he had only three months to live. I urge you to hold a hearing on this matter.

We have seen an abundance of circumstantial evidence that the British and Scottish governments may have circumvented justice and organized his release in order to secure a lucrative oil drilling concession for British Petroleum.  If true, this would be outrageous and demands immediate scrutiny.  One hundred ninety Americans, including many students and families from New York died in the Lockerbie bombing.

I understand that Senator Menendez, in his responsibilities as the Chair of one of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittees, has requested that he chair a hearing into the circumstances behind Mr. Al Megrahi’s release. I fully support his request and pledge to work hard with you and Senator Menendez to ensure that we have a full hearing on the facts.

In addition to this being an outrage for the families of the victims of the terrorist bombing and all Americans, a miscarriage of justice that would trade freedom for a convicted terrorist for commercial profits would set a dangerous precedent and undermine the international community’s ability to use the rule of law to bring terrorists to justice.