Monday, August 24, 2009

Al Megrahi & Seif al-Islam in Tripoli

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Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and Saif al-Islam arrive in Tripoli to hero's welcome.

Article by Mr. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi on Abdul Basset al-Megrahi's Return Home

New York Times published on Monday, 30 August, an article by Mr. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, President of Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation on the return of Abdul Basset al-Megrahi.

The article which was entitled "No ‘Hero’s Welcome’ in Libya" tackled various aspects of Abdul Basset al-Megrahi's return to Libya after the Scottish authorities decided to release him on humanitarian grounds; and it reads as follows:

No ‘Hero’s Welcome’ in Libya"

CONTRARY to reports in the Western press, there was no “hero’s welcome” for Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi when he returned to Libya earlier this month.

There was not in fact any official reception for the return of Mr.Megrahi, who had been convicted and imprisoned in Scotland for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The strong reactions to these misperceptions must not be allowed to impair the improvements in a mutually beneficial relationship between Libya and the West.

When I arrived at the airport with Mr.Megrahi, there was not a single government official present. State and foreign news media were also barred from the event. If you were watching Al Jazeera, the Arabic news network, at the time the plane landed, you would have heard its correspondent complain that he was not allowed by Libyan authorities to go to the airport to cover Mr.Megrahi’s arrival.

It is true that there were a few hundred people present. But most of them were members of Mr.Megrahi’s large tribe, extended families being an important element in Libyan society. They had no official invitation, but it was hardly possible to prevent them from coming.

Coincidentally, the day Mr.Megrahi landed was also the very day of the annual Libyan Youth Day, and many participants came to the airport after seeing coverage of Mr. Megrahi’s release on British television. But this was not planned. Indeed, we sat in the plane on the tarmac until the police brought the crowd to order.

Libya links co-operation on WPC Fletcher’s murder to Gaddafi case.
From The Times

September 1, 2009

Martin Fletcher in Tripoli

Libya has linked its co-operation over the unsolved murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher in London to Britain helping its investigation of an attempt to kill Colonel Muammar Gaddafi that was allegedly financed by MI6.

“There’s this case and another case when somebody tried to assassinate the leader. These two cases are linked together,” Mohammed Siala, a member of Libya’s Cabinet, replied whenThe Times asked yesterday if Libya would show WPC Fletcher’s family the compassion that was shown to the Lockerbie bomber by surrendering her killer. “We are giving access to information and [the two cases] are going in parallel so we are waiting for some information from the UK from the other case,” said Mr Siala, Libya’s Secretary for International Co-operation.

WPC Fletcher was shot in 1984, during a demonstration outside the Libyan Embassy, the bullet almost certainly havng been fired from the first floor of the building. Her killer was thought to have been smuggled out of the country after the shooting. As Libya shed its pariah status, Metropolitan Police officers investigating the case visited Tripoli in 2004, 2006 and 2007, but without obvious success.

The assassination attempt to which Mr Siala appeared to be referring occurred in 1996 when Colonel Gaddafi’s motorcade was attacked in the town of Sirte. He survived but six bystanders were killed. David Shayler, a renegade MI5 officer, later claimed that MI6 had paid the so-called Islamic Fighting Group £100,000 to carry out the attack.
Last night Whitehall sources denied the two investigations were linked and insisted that the traffic was all one way, with the Metropolitan Police seeking Libya’s assistance in bringing WPC Fletcher’s killer to justice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it had assured Colonel Gaddafi that there was no British plot to assassinate him, and that Mr Shayler’s allegations had been thoroughly investigated and discounted.

Mr Siala’s comments nonetheless could stir further controversy over Britain’s relations with Libya after the release of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi.

To avoid further criticism, the British Government is expected to send only a junior representative to Libya’s sumptuous celebrations of Colonel Gaddafi’s 40 years in power.

No dignitaries are being sent from London. The British Embassy in Tripoli said that Sir Vincent Fean, the Ambassador, was in Malta. “The invitation was sent to the head of mission, but we are still considering the level of representation,” a spokesman said.

Other European states are sending ministers, ambassadors or delegations; the President of Malta is thought to be the only European head of state. Mr Siala denied his Government was upset that so few Western leaders were attending today’s celebrations, which are supposed to mark Libya’s return to international respectablility. “It’s up to them to come or not,” he said.

But he did complain that the West had not responded adequately to Libya’s renunciation of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. “We are disappointed,” he said. “We expected that there would be a reward for what we’ve done, especially for WMD ... There must be a reward to encourage others to follow.”

The rewards should have involved technological transfers, including the civil use of nuclear power, scholarships, training and the relaxation of visa restrictions with EU countries, Mr Siala said. “We are willing to issue visas within 48 or 24 hours and are willing to abolish visas for some countries, if they can do the same in reciprocity.”

Asked whether his country would consider demands that the British victims of IRA bombs made with Libyan Semtex be compensated, he responded cryptically: “I have no answer for that. Things are not mature yet.”

Colonel Gaddafi will host today President Chávez of Venezuela, President Arroyo of the Philippines and a group of African leaders who were summoned to an African Union summit in Tripoli yesterday. They include President Mugabe of Zimbabwe and President al-Bashir of Sudan, who has been indicted for war crimes.

The highlight will be a three-hour enactment of Libya’s history on a giant stage. Libyans have been given a two-day holiday.


August 19 2003: Britain introduces a United Nations resolution to lift sanctions against Libya after Tripoli accepts the blame for the Lockerbie bombing and agrees to compensate the victims' families.
:: March 2004: Prime Minister Tony Blair offers Colonel Gaddafi ''the hand of friendship'' following talks with the Libyan leader in a tent outside the capital Tripoli.
:: May 29 2007: Mr Blair hails the strength of the relationship between the UK and Libya after talks with Col Gaddafi result in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
:: June 7 2007: Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond writes to Mr Blair about the agreement, telling him of his regret that ''almost no thought'' had been given to the role of the Scottish Government despite prison transfer being a matter for the devolved administration.
:: October 21 2008: It is confirmed that Megrahi has been diagnosed with prostate cancer which has spread to other parts of his body and is at an advanced stage.
:: February 2009: Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell tells Libya's minister for Europe Abdulati Alobidi at a meeting in Tripoli that Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not want to see Megrahi die in jail.
:: 12 March 2009: Mr Alobidi attends talks with a Scottish Government delegation in Glasgow.
:: April 29 2009: A prisoner transfer agreement (PTA) between the UK and Libya comes into force allowing Megrahi to apply to serve the rest of his sentence in a Libyan jail. He must drop his appeal against his conviction for any PTA to take place.
:: May 6 2009: The Scottish Government says the Libyan authorities have applied for the transfer of Megrahi.
:: August 14 2009: In a telephone call US secretary of state Hillary Clinton urges Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill not to release Megrahi.
:: August 18 2009: Megrahi's bid to drop his appeal against his conviction is accepted by judges in Edinburgh.
:: August 20 2009: Kenny MacAskill announces his decision that Megrahi is to be returned to Libya on compassionate grounds. US president Barack Obama says the decision is a ''mistake''. Prime Minister Gordon Brown sends a letter to Col Gaddafi asking that Libya ''act with sensitivity'' when Megrahi is returned home but declines to express his own views.
:: August 21 2009: The UK and the US condemn the ''hero's welcome'' given to Megrahi as he arrives back in Libya. Claims by Col Gaddafi's son Saif that the decision to release Megrahi was tied to a trade deal are strongly denied by the Foreign Office.
:: August 22 2009: Libyan television shows pictures of Col Gaddafi meeting Megrahi and praising Gordon Brown and the British government for their part in securing his freedom.
FBI director Robert Mueller accuses Mr MacAskill of making a mockery of the law and giving comfort to terrorists.
:: August 24 2009: Mr MacAskill tells an emergency session of the Scottish Parliament it had been his own decision to free Megrahi.
It emerges that the Duke of York will not travel to Libya for an official visit in September.
:: August 25 2009: Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he was ''repulsed'' by Megrahi's welcome in Libya and insists the British government had no role in the decision to free him.
:: August 27 2009: It emerges that three ministers visited the country in the 15 months leading up to the release of the Lockerbie bomber.
:: August 28 2009: Col Gaddafi's son Saif tells a newspaper that Libya's original prisoner transfer deal with the UK had targeted Megrahi and was directly linked to talks on trade and oil, but denies it had anything to do with his eventual release.
:: August 29 2009: Leaked letters from the Justice Secretary Jack Straw showed that he backed away from efforts to stipulate that Megrahi be exempt from the PTA ''in view of the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom''.
:: September 1 2009: Notes taken by the Scottish Government at a meeting with a Libyan minister in March are published. In them, Abdulati Alobidi insists he had been told Gordon Brown did not believe Megrahi should die in prison.
Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell confirmed that he had relayed the message during meetings in February.


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