Thursday, August 2, 2007

Lockerbie bomber case key to medics deal: Kadhafi son

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

Lockerbie bomber case key to medics deal: Kadhafi son

PARIS, Aug 1, 2007 (AFP) - A deal with Britain that could see a Libyan convicted for the Lockerbie bombings extradited home was key to last week's release of six foreign medics, Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's son said in comments published Wednesday.
Former Libyan secret agent Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, who was jailed for the 1988 bombing of a US airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, won the right to a new appeal in June after a court ruled he may have been wrongly convicted.
In an interview with France's Le Monde newspaper, Saif ul-Islam Kadhafi said Tripoli had drawn a link between Megrahi's judicial situation and that of the five nurses and doctor jailed for infecting children with the AIDS virus.
Asked whether the two cases were connected, Saif ul-Islam replied: "Yes. We established a link".
He also told Le Monde he hoped Megrahi would soon be sent back to Libya.
"We will soon have an extradition agreement with Britain," he said, referring to a memorandum of understanding on an extradition deal signed with Libya during a visit by Prime Minister Tony Blair in May.
Saif ul-Islam also said the medics' release -- in which France played a key role -- had paved the way for the signing of major arms contracts with France.
"With the French, we have been in negotiations for a long time. We asked Sarkozy to accelerate things. Now that the nurses' case is settled, a golden opportunity has arisen," he said.
A day after the medics' release, French President Nicolas Sarkozy travelled to Tripoli where he signed an agreement with Libya pledging to cooperate on several nuclear energy projects, including building a reactor for water desalination.
The nuclear deal has been criticised by environmentalists as a potential proliferation risk, but according to Le Monde, "the heart of the matter" was not the nuclear project, but a wide-ranging defence agreement.
"Firstly, the accord covers joint military exercises, of course. Then we will purchase anti-tank Milan missiles from France, for about 100 million euros I believe," he was quoted as saying.
"Afterwards, there is a plan to manufacture arms, to maintain and produce military equipment.
"You know this is the first agreement by a Western nation to supply weapons to Libya?"
"Representatives of Thales and Sagem are in Libya as we speak," he said, referring to two French defence and electronics manufacturers.
As head of the Kadhafi foundation, which negotiated the medics' release and a 400-million-dollar compensation deal for the sick children's families, Saif ul-Islam repeated the claim that "no Libyan money was paid to these families".
"What I can say is that the French sorted things out. The French found the money for the families. But I don't know where they found it," he said, adding that Libya had got "a good deal" out of the case.
Sarkozy and the European Union both denied paying any financial compensation for the medics' freedom.
Asked whether Qatar, which helped negotiate the deal, had served as a financial intermediary, Saif ul-Islam replied: "We did not ask questions. We did not want to embarrass our friends."


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