New Jersey’s senators have loomed large in the continuing debate on the release of the only convicted participant of the bombing of Pan Am 103.
At the request of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has scheduled a hearing for July 29 to look into the circumstances surrounding the release last year of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who was serving a life sentence until his release last year on humanitarian grounds. Doctors gave the cancer-stricken al-Megrahi approximately three months to live, which he has far exceeded. Questions have risen in recent weeks as to whether BP – which is currently fighting a publicity nightmare with the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico – may have played a role in pressuring Scotland for his release in exchange for access to Libyan oil.
“The stonewalling in this case is inconsistent with the longstanding ties between the U.S. and United Kingdom,” Lautenberg said today in a statement. “The U.K. and the Scottish governments have been pointing fingers at each other and anyone else they can find about their decision to release this mass murderer. In the interest of justice, the families of the victims of the terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103 deserve the truth. If there is nothing to hide, the U.K., Scotland, and BP should have no problem cooperating in this investigation.”
Earlier this month, Lautenberg joined Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in requesting BP disclose all of its public and private communications related to al-Megrahi.
“It is disturbing to learn that oil contracts between BP and the government of Libya may have affected the release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence agent convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, from a Scottish prison last year,” the Senators wrote. “Serious questions have been raised about whether justice and punishment for terrorism took a back seat to back-room deals for an oil contract.”
Editor Rebecca Boroson expounded on the Lockerbie connection in her editorial last week.
In light of the continuing crisis in the Gulf and the oil company’s alleged role in the release of the Lockerbie bomber, do you plan to boycott BP? Vote now at Jstandard.com.