Obama requests Pan Am 103 bomber to return to prison
The Obama administration has requested the only man convicted in the bombing of flight Pan Am 103 in 1988 be sent back to prison after questions regarding his release surfaced this summer, according to The Associated Press.
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds from prison last August after a doctor diagnosed him with prostate cancer and only three months to live. He had served only 8 years of his 27-year sentence in connection with the bombing. More than a year after his release, al-Megrahi is still living in Tripoli, Libya.
‘We’ve expressed our strong conviction that al-Megrahi should serve out the remainder — the entirety — of his sentence in a Scottish prison,’
John Brennan, the Obama administrations adviser on counterterrorism, told The Associated Press.
Thirty-five Syracuse University students traveling home from semesters abroad in London and Florence, Italy, died in the attack, along with all 224 other people on board. Eleven people on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland, were also killed.
‘From day one last year, when he was released we knew it was a sham and he was probably going to live for more than three months,’ said
Bob Hunt, the father of Karen Hunt, an SU student who died in the bombing.
In July, questions surrounding al-Megrahi’s release surfaced when people began questioning his terminal diagnosis.
Shortly after, New York state senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, along with two New Jersey senators, began probing into a possible prisoner exchange deal between Libya and British Petroleum in order to secure an oil deal. The senators wrote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting she push for an investigation.
The letter read: ‘As you may know, in 2007, BP and the Libyan government agreed upon a $900 million oil exploration deal, following two visits to Libya over the course of three years by then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It was reported in September of last year that BP communicated to the British government concerns that possible delays in the release of al-Megrahi could throw the oil deal into jeopardy.’
BP has admitted to being involved in a prisoner exchange agreement with the Libyan government, but said al-Megrahi’s name was never mentioned in the deal.
Peter Lowenstein, the father of Alexander Lowenstein, an SU student victim, said he does not think there is any way the Libyan government will allow al-Megrahi to be sent back to prison.
In regards to a possible connection between BP and the Libyan government, he said, ‘If anything else comes out it will probably be another lie, and if (an oil deal) does come out, you can’t change what has happened, and there’s no way the Libyans are going to give (al-Megrahi) up.’
Student Association President Jon Barnhart said all the controversy surrounding the issue since al-Megrahi’s release last August has made the remembrance events SU holds every year even more difficult.
Barnhart thinks all of the ‘political mud’ the issue gets drawn through can sometimes draw the remembrance process more toward anger, he said. SA does not have an official statement on the issue.
‘My heart and sympathies go out to the families and friends and loved ones of the victims,’ he said, ‘because you think you start to cope with something and then something new comes up.’
A previous version of this article appeared on dailyorange.com on July 15.
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