Gaddafi: Lockerbie payment was to settle row


Sydney - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has said in a television interview that Libya agreed to compensate Lockerbie relatives to resolve a diplomatic row, not because Tripoli was behind the 1988 bombing.

"This is a peaceful settlement to resolve the problems between us," Gaddafi told Australian television channel SBS's Dateline programme, to be aired on Sunday.

He said Tehran had agreed to the settlement to abide by a court ruling that found Libya guilty of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie that killed 270 people.

"We, at the end, accepted the judgment that was made, even though it is not a legal judgment but a political one," Gaddafi said in a transcript of the interview released by SBS ahead of the broadcast.

In January 2001, a special Scottish court in the Netherlands sentenced a Libyan, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, to life imprisonment for the bombing.

But Gaddafi denied that Megrahi, who was controversially freed from his Scottish prison in August 2009 because he was suffering from terminal cancer, was a Libyan agent.

"He is not an intelligence officer. He is a university professor," Gaddafi said.

The attack strained Libya's relations with the West, and, in 1992, the UN imposed sanctions to force the handover of Megrahi and another suspect, who was acquitted by the court.

More than two years later, Libya took responsibility for the bombing in a letter to the UN Security Council, and signed a $2.7 billion deal to compensate families of the Lockerbie bombing victims.

Gaddafi said in the interview that "nobody accepts actions against civilian targets and downing planes".

He added that Libya had been blamed for the bombing because, "at the time, they'd blame everything on Libya" because it was leading an international liberation movement against the West. - Sapa-AFP


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