Clinton: Libyan rebels must address Lockerbie bomber

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Libyan transitional government that they needed to address the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, and that the United States would be watching closely to see how the rebel leaders handled the case.

The Associated Press reported that Clinton told rebel leaders Mustafa Abdul-Jalil and Mahmoud Jibril that the United States believed that Megrahi should never have been granted compassionate release from a Scottish prison.

Megrahi was granted the release in 2009 after doctors said he had prostate cancer and likely would die within three months. But he received a hero’s welcome upon his return to Libya and appeared at rallies for deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi last month as civil war tore through the country. Megrahi was the only person convicted in the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that killed 270 people, the majority of whom were Americans.

The rebel justice minister had previously ruled out extraditing Megrahi.

“We will not give any Libyan citizen to the West,” Libyan Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi said. “Megrahi has already been judged once and he will not be judged again. We do not hand over Libyan citizens. Gadhafi does.”

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said yesterday that the U.S. should cut off aid to the transitional government if they refused to extradite Megrahi.

“If the new Libyan government continues to shield this convicted terrorist from justice, then they should not get one more cent of support from the United States,” Schumer told NBC. “We put American lives and money on the line to help the Libyan people secure their freedom. It’s time the Libyan government lives up to its commitment to create a free and accountable society by handing over al-Megrahi so that justice can finally be done.”

Megrahi is reportedly in a coma at a villa north of Tripoli, being kept alive with oxygen and an intravenous drip.

At the meeting, Clinton also told the rebel leaders that they needed to secure existing weapons stockpiles, which included mustard gas and shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft missiles. Clinton also encouraged the transitional governments to make sure it protected the rights of women and minorities. 

"Libya's new leadership will need to continue to stand against violent extremism and work with us to ensure that weapons from Gadhafi's stockpiles do not threaten Libya's neighbors and the world," Clinton said in a statement.

"We will be watching and supporting Libya's leaders as they keep their stated commitments to conduct an inclusive transition, act under the rule of law and protect vulnerable populations-and that should include enshrining the rights of women as well as men in their constitution," she said. "Honoring these principles offers Libya its best chance at a stable, successful future."

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