Senator demands investigating BP's oil deal with Libya

Noting that BP is about to begin drilling for oil in Libya's Gulf of Sidra, Senator Frank Lautenberg said during negotiations of this oil exploration plan in 2007, the oil giant may have encouraged the release of Megrahi to help close the deal.

"It is shocking to even contemplate that BP is profiting from the release of a terrorist with the blood of 189 Americans on his hands," Lautenberg said in a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"The families of the victims of Pan Am flight 103 deserve to know whether justice took a back seat to commercial interests in this case," he said.

On September 2, 2009, just two weeks after Megrahi's release, Lautenberg called on the Foreign Relations Committee to determine if the agreement was influenced by oil contracts between BP and the government of Libya.

Last week, Lautenberg along with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles E Schumer and Bob Menendez had urged the British government to conduct a full investigation into the Scottish court's decision to release Megrahi.

As many as 290 people including 189 Americans were killed in the bombing of Pan Am 103 on December 21, 1988. In 2001, Megrahi was convicted of this crime and sentenced to serve a minimum 20 year sentence in prison. He was released from a Scottish prison on August 20, 2009, based on "compassionate" grounds due to his failing health.

"It is shocking and unconscionable that an oil contract between BP and Libya may have played a role in Mr Megrahi's release. Reports have surfaced indicating that a 2007 oil agreement may have influenced the UK and Scottish governments' positions concerning Megrahi’s release in 2009," the Senator said.

"BP admits that in 2007 it "told the UK government it was concerned that a delay in concluding a prisoner transfer agreement with the Libyan government might hurt" the oil deal.

Furthermore, letters have been released showing that Jack Straw, former UK's Secretary of State for Justice initially intended to exclude Megrahi from the prisoner transfer agreement but later switched his position, citing the "wider negotiations with the Libyans" and "overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom."," he said.

"BP has just announced it will begin deepwater drilling next month off Libya’s coast, and it is estimated BP could earn as much as USD 20 billion from the deal. It is shocking to even contemplate that this company is profiting from the release of a terrorist with the blood of 189 Americans on his hands," Lautenberg said.

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