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Senators urge al-Megrahi hearing

US senators who want a hearing into the Lockerbie bomber's release have been urged to sign a letter asking the Scottish Government to hold its own public inquiry into the tragedy.

The Justice for Megrahi Committee, a group of campaigners who believe Abdelbaset al-Megrahi may have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice, wants Holyrood ministers to launch a probe into the full circumstances of the affair.

It has already petitioned the UN General Assembly for an inquiry into the bombing of Pan-Am flight 103 in 1988 which killed 270 people, as well as the trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands which saw the Libyan convicted of the atrocity.

The group has invited US Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, John Kerry, Frank Lautenberg, Robert Menendez and Charles Schumer to sign the letter sent to the Scottish Government just over a week ago.

Senator Menendez, a Democrat, was due to chair the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing into the release of the Lockerbie bomber. It was postponed after key witnesses including former Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and First Minister Alex Salmond turned down requests to attend.

The letter, written to Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill by Robert Forrester on behalf of the Justice for Megrahi committee, claimed that "current attacks from the USA and within the UK" have led to suggestions that the Scottish Government might hold its own inquiry.

Mr Forrester said the group's call for an inquiry had been backed by Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the Lockerbie tragedy, as well as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Private Eye editor Ian Hislop and Professor Robert Black, who has been a high-profile critic of Megrahi's conviction.

Cancer-stricken Megrahi was released from Greenock jail on August 20 last year. He had been given three months to live, but is living with his family in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

The US Senate foreign relations committee wants to investigate the suspicions of some that oil giant BP may have had a hand in the release. The committee said it is ready to send members to the UK to question British witnesses over Megrahi`s release.

In the letter to the senators, Mr Forrester wrote: "An inquiry will no doubt bring with it embarrassment for some as it calls into question their reputations. However, if justice is regarded as a tool with which to achieve expedient results and defend human frailties by obscuring the truth, we are all in a very sorry state indeed. We do not seek retribution, we seek the truth. The ghosts of Lockerbie must be laid to rest."


From Belfast Telegraph