Libya: Lockerbie bombing "case is closed"

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, a Libyan who was found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing but released from his Scottish prison on compassionate grounds, is seen Sept. 9, 2009, at Tripoli Medical Center in Tripoli, Libya. His son reported his death on Sunday, May 20, 2012. AP Photo

LONDON - Scotland has asked Libya's new authorities to help track down those responsible for the 1988 Lockerbie airplane bombing, but the country's transitional justice minister told reporters Monday "the case is closed."

In Tripoli, Mohammed al-Alagi noted that the only person charged with the bombing — former Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Baset al-Megrahi — was freed on compassionate grounds in 2009 because of illness.

There is no reason to keep dragging the case into court, al-Alagi said.

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Britain's Foreign Office, however, stressed late Monday that Libyan authorities have assured Prime Minister David Cameron that they would cooperate with the United Kingdom in the investigation.

"Having spoken with the National Transitional Council this evening, we understand that this remains the case," the Foreign Office said in a statement in response to al-Alagi's remarks.

The Scottish prosecutors' office said Monday it had written to the National Transitional Council asking for written evidence and witnesses that could aid the inquiry into the bombing of the New York-bound Pan Am plane over the Scottish town killed 270 people, most of them American.

The investigation "remains an open inquiry," it said.

Scottish authorities have said that al-Megrahi's trial had found that he "acted in furtherance of the Libyan intelligence services in an act of state-sponsored terrorism and did not act alone."

He was sentenced to life in jail in 2001, but released after doctors said he was dying of prostate cancer and estimated he had three months to live.

He remains alive, though reportedly in poor health, in Tripoli. His release infuriated the families of many Lockerbie victims.

U.S. senators in New York have asked Libya's transitional government to hold al-Megrahi fully accountable for the Pan Am bombing by sending him back to prison.

The bombing remains Britain's worst terrorist attack.

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