March 31, 2011 / 6:09 PM / 9 years ago

UK prosecutors want to question Moussa on Lockerbie

LONDON (Reuters) - Scottish authorities said on Thursday they wanted to interview former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, pleasing victims’ relatives.

Former Libya Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa is seen at a news conference at a hotel housing the foreign press in Tripoli in this March 7, 2011 file photograph. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/Files

Koussa, also the former spy chief for Muammar Gaddafi, defected to Britain on Wednesday, parting ways with the Libyan leader over what a friend of Koussa called Gaddafi’s attacks on civilians in his conflict with rebels.

Families representing some of the 270 people killed when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie two decades ago said no deals should be done to protect Koussa.

“This could be all the evidence that we wanted given to us on a silver platter,” Frank Duggan, president of the Victims of Pan Am 103 group in the United States, told Reuters.

While British officials are hoping that he will provide vital military and diplomatic intelligence, campaigners want him to shed light on the bombing which killed 259 people, mostly Americans, on the plane and 11 on the ground.

“He was the head of the Libyan intelligence services so if Libya is responsible for the bombing of Pan Am 103 then Mr Koussa is too,” Pamela Dix, whose brother was one of those killed, told Reuters.

“He should not be a free man in this country.”

NO IMMUNITY

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, a former Libyan agent, was sentenced to life in prison in 2001 for his part in blowing up the airliner but was released by the Scottish government in 2009 when he was judged by doctors to be terminally ill.

Koussa played a key role in the release of Megrahi. Scottish authorities said on Thursday that they wanted to question him.

“We have notified the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that the Scottish prosecuting and investigating authorities wish to interview Mr Koussa in connection with the Lockerbie bombing,” Scotland’s Crown Office said in a statement.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Koussa would not be given immunity from prosecution. However, there are concerns that deals could be struck with Koussa in return for providing useful information about Gaddafi.

Prime Minister David Cameron said police and prosecutors would be free to pursue any evidence.

Cameron has repeatedly condemned Megrahi’s release and criticised the policy of Britain’s former Labour government to restore diplomatic ties and business links in return for Gaddafi ending his attempts to obtain banned weapons.

“(Former Prime Minister) Tony Blair ... chose British business interests effectively over uncovering the truth around Lockerbie,” Dix said.

“So David Cameron is going to have to deliver. I will be expecting a great deal and I will not be expecting deals to be done.”

(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York and Avril Ormsby in London; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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