August 20, 2009

Gillibrand Statement on the Release of Lockerbie Bomber

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement on the release of Abdel Basset Mohamed al-Megrahi. Senator Gillibrand, along with her Senate colleagues, last week wrote a letter to Scotland Justice Secretary Kenny Mackaskill urging that the former Libyan intelligence agent continue serving his life sentence in Scotland.

"My prayers are with the families of Pan Am Flight 103 today as they are forced to relive the horrific loss of their loved ones. We, in the United States, oppose the decision by the Scottish Government today to release Abdel Basset Mohamed al-Megrahi. Justice is not being served. Mergrahi should serve his full sentence and spend the rest of his days in prison."

The full letter from Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues is below:

August 17, 2009

Cabinet Secretary for Justice
Kenny MacAskill MSP

Scottish Government

St Andrew's House

Regent Road

Edinburgh, EH1 3DG

Dear Mr. MacAskill:

We are writing to express our concern about press reports that Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence agent convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, may soon be released from a Scottish prison.  We believe he should remain in Scotland to complete his sentence in prison. 

The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, was an attack on America and a horrific act of international terrorism resulting in the deaths of 270 people, including 189 Americans.  Until the tragic events of September 11, 2001, no terrorist act had killed more American civilians. 

Recognizing the gravity of this heinous crime, the international community demanded that the government of Libya turn the perpetrators over for prosecution and accept responsibility for the crime.  In 1998, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland put forth a proposal to the government of Libya on the terms of a trial by a Scottish court in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  In that proposal, both governments agreed that if found guilty, the accused would serve their sentences in the United Kingdom. 

In 2001, with the active participation of the U.S. Department of Justice, Al-Megrahi was convicted of this terrorist crime in a Scottish trial held in the Netherlands.  Our international agreement called for his sentence to be served in Scotland and we believe strongly there should be no deviation from this sentence.  Officials of the United States government have repeatedly made it clear that al-Megrahi should serve the entirety of his sentence in a Scottish prison.  On August 13th, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley reiterated the view of our government.  He said, "We have made our views clear to the UK government and other authorities that we believe [Megrahi] should spend the rest of his time in jail."  We wholeheartedly agree.

We know that the Scottish government shares our commitment - and the world's - to support justice and oppose acts of terrorism. That is why we urge you to ensure that Abdel Basset al-Megrahi serves the remainder of his sentence in prison in Scotland.

With our respect and appreciation