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British government publishes Lockerbie letters

The British government on Tuesday published correspondence with the Scottish government in a bid to refute allegations that the Lockerbie bomber's release was linked to a trade deal.

The letters were made public on the website of the British Foreign Ministry after the Sunday Times reported the British government had pushed for the Scottish Executive to release the man because discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had met difficulties, which were resolved soon afterwards.

Abdelbasset Megrahi was formally released on Aug. 20 in Edinburgh, where he had been jailed on charges of murdering 270 people, including 189 Americans when a Pan Am plane blew up over Lockerbie, southern Scotland, in December 1988.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the man, who had terminal cancer, was allowed to return home to die after serving eight years of a 27-year minimum sentence.

The correspondence showed that the transfer of Al-Megrahi was a decision for Scottish Ministers. The July 3 letter made clear that "the decision in relation to such a request is a matter for Scottish Ministers."

The correspondence also made clear that no attempt was made to steer the Scottish Executive in any direction. The Aug. 3 letter made clear that officials of the British Foreign Ministry were "not making representations on whether Megrahi ought to be transferred to Libya."

In both his statements of June 19 and June 24, MacAskill confirmed that the final decision was his alone.

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 Source : Xinhua  Editor: Ivy
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