Senators to issue whistleblower call over Megrahi

US SENATORS will this week bypass the UK and Scottish governments to issue a public call for "whistleblowers" to come forward with fresh evidence about the Lockerbie case, a year on from the controversial release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.

Scottish lawyers and doctors with knowledge of Megrahi's case are among those being urged to step forward by the team of four US senators conducting an inquiry into the release of the convicted bomber.

The team is also calling on insiders with knowledge of the UK Government's trade links to Libya - including arms deals with the Gaddafi regime - to reveal any evidence they were linked to Megrahi's return home.

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The move was last night interpreted as another example of US interference in the decisions made by the Scottish Government, which allowed the 58-year-old Libyan intelligence officer to return home last summer after ministers received reports saying he had just three months to live.

One SNP source said: "This is all just about their own politics. They have their elections coming and they are just trying to show they're doing something."

Christine Grahame, an SNP MSP, said: "I would be much happier if, rather than doing this they (the senators] would simply call for a UN inquiry into all matters in Lockerbie, where all the evidence was laid out. That way the senators would sleep a lot better in their beds at night."

The internet appeal, to be made public later this week, comes with the bomber, who is suffering from prostate cancer, preparing to mark a year of freedom back in Libya.

There were reports yesterday that he has begun a new round of treatment aimed at prolonging his life.

In further revelations today:

• SNP ministers say they would be happy to support an international inquiry into the Lockerbie case, amid fresh calls for a investigation into his conviction.

• Megrahi says he wants all papers relating to his aborted appeal to be made public and says he would have released his own documentation if the Crown Office in Scotland and police also agreed to do so.

• Senators have again asked Foreign Secretary William Hague to examine whether potentially lucrative arms deals between the UK and Libya played a factor in the UK's approach to Megrahi's case.

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Megrahi, the only man convicted of the bombing of Flight Pan Am 103 in 1988, is currently celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at his home in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced plans last month to hold a hearing into the case, urging Scottish and UK ministers to give evidence.

They said they wanted to investigate claims that Megrahi's release was linked to a UK-BP oil deal with Libya, along with his release on compassionate grounds.

However, with that plea having fallen on deaf ears, the senators are now planning to go over the heads of ministers in a bid to speak directly to the people involved in the case.The call for whistleblowers will be made by New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, the man leading the inquiry. The Senate team say they want to hear from people with "unique insight" into "the medical condition of al-Megrahi before and after his release and the Scottish medical community's view of al-Megrahi's release".

They also want to speak to people with knowledge of "the legal representation of al-Megrahi during his appeals for interim liberation, prisoner release and compassionate release".

The senators also want to talk to insiders with knowledge of the UK's trade dealings with Libya which, they claim, may have been contingent on Megrahi's release. In a statement, the senators declare: "All correspondence will remain confidential and identities will not be disclosed unless permission is granted.

"For those who know more about al-Megrahi's early release than what has already been disclosed, we ask that you come forward in compassion for those 270 victims who lost their voice on December 21st, 1988."