Heading home: Lockerbie bomber Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, left, boards plane at Scotland’s Glasgow International Airport to return to Libya on Aug. 20.
Earlier this month, the Scottish government released convicted “Lockerbie bomber” Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, afflicted with terminal prostate cancer, to live out the rest of his days in his native Libya—a move that reportedly went against a decade-old agreement with the U.S. that those found guilty of causing the 1988 airline tragedy would stay put in Scotland to serve their time. —KA
A former Cabinet minister and two sources close to talks over the handover of suspects in 1999 told The Times that Robin Cook, then Foreign Secretary, promised Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State at the time, that anyone found guilty would serve their sentence in Scotland, where the airliner exploded with the loss of 270 lives.
A senior US official said: “There was a clear understanding at the time of the trial that al-Megrahi would serve his sentence in Scotland. In the 1990s the UK had the same view. It is up to them to explain what changed.”
Cook, who brokered the unusual deal by which two Libyan suspects, including al-Megrahi, would be tried by a specially convened Scottish court in the Netherlands, later described how Britain and the US had resisted pressure from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi for those convicted to be allowed to serve their sentence in Libya.