Former Libyan strongman Moussa Koussa, who is strongly believed to have played a role in the infamous Lockerbie bombing, was allowed to leave London on Tuesday.
With the British foreign office saying it’s not sure if Koussa, who had dramatically arrived in London a fortnight ago, will ever come back to the country, there is widespread criticism of the way the ex-Libyan foreign minister was treated by the UK government.
Many believe he has been allowed to leave the country without having to be held accountable to the terror plot which resulted in the crash of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie in December 1988. As many as 243 passengers and 16 crew members died in the bombing.
Koussa boarded a flight to the Qatari capital Doha on Tuesday, to hold talks with the Libyan rebels. Britain's coalition government has been accused of offering a transit lounge for alleged war criminals after a foreign office spokesperson said Koussa was free to come and go.
There are reasons for the public to be infuriated by alleged sloppy action by the British government on Koussa's case. In 2009, the Scottish government had released the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel basset al-Megrahi, inviting the wrath of people across the world. It was rumored that the move was a goodwill gesture to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who was actively warming up to the West.
The release of Megrahi was officially labeled as based on compassionate grounds as Megrahi was suffering from terminal cancer and since doctors had given him less than three months to live. However Megrahi, who returned to Libya to a hero's welcome, and was personally received by one of Gaddafi's sons, has defied the odds and is still alive. Megrahi had been sentenced in 2001 to a minimum of 27 years in jail.
The decision by the UK foreign office to let Koussa go without making him face justice has invited harsh criticism. A former police officer has said there was evidence that Koussa may have ordered the murder of a UK policewoman in 1984. The policewoman was killed when Gaddafi supporters attacked an anti-Gaddafi protest outside the Libyan embassy in the UK.
We’re treating this man like a victim, like a celebrity, when in fact he is a prime suspect in the murder of a serving police officer in 1984. He should be arrested for conspiracy to murder and be questioned by Scotland Yard – those are the only people who should be questioning him, not Foreign Office officials about events in Libya, John Murray, a former officer, told BBC Radio Five Live.
An organization representing the victims of the Pan Am Flight also criticized the decision of the foreign office. The British Government seems to be rewarding him and treating him like some kind of peacemaker – they seem to have been taken in by him. This man knows who else was involved in the bombing. I don’t expect him to incriminate himself, but he should be held until he reveals the names of the others, the Daily Mail quoted Frank Duggan, president of the organization, as saying.