Washington, DC –Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) today announced that the Committee will hold a public hearing on July 29th on the circumstances surrounding last year’s release of Abdel Basset Mohamed al-Megrahi, the Libyan official who was convicted of orchestrating the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.
“I opposed Megrahi’s release on medical grounds last year as a travesty and the details that have emerged in recent days in the press have raised new concerns,” said Senator Kerry. “The bombing of Pan Am 103 was an unforgivable act of terrorism in which 189 Americans, including nine from Massachusetts, lost their lives. On behalf of those victims and their families, we must get to the bottom of what led to the mistaken release of the only person ever convicted for that terrible crime.”
Senator Robert Menendez, who will chair the hearing, said: “For our national security and for fundamental justice, we need answers about the circumstances of this convicted terrorist’s release, and we intend to get answers at this hearing. The more it seems that this was a miscarriage of justice, the more it emboldens would-be terrorists who realize they can get away with murder. The more it seems like a rigged decision, the bigger an insult it is to the families of 189 murdered Americans – 38 of whom lived in New Jersey. Among those we will ask to testify are government experts and BP.”
Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer, was sentenced to life in prison by a Scottish court for his role in the bombing over the Scottish village of Lockerbie. He was allowed to return to Libya last August after doctors told the Scottish government that he was likely to die of cancer within three months.
At the time, Senator Kerry was one of seven senators who tried to persuade the Scottish government not to release Megrahi. He said there should be no compassion for the man responsible for the deaths of 270 people.
In recent days, questions have been raised about the release and whether Megrahi, who is still alive, was suffering as seriously as described by doctors at the time.