Page last updated at 16:42 GMT, Saturday, 26 September 2009 17:42 UK

No deal on Megrahi, says Gaddafi

Colonel Gaddafi speaking to Al Jazeera: "There was no deal or anything else"

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has denied any deal was done to secure the release of the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

Abdelbasset Ali al-Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

Megrahi has terminal cancer and is said not to have long to live.

In a TV interview with Al Jazeera Colonel Gaddafi said no deal was done and that he now considers the matter to be closed.

He said: "This problem ended. It is not possible anymore to talk about clearing Libya or not - whatever happened, the problem is over.

"Abdelbasset was the only person who had the right to appeal to the European Court, but as I said because of his illness and release it seems that there is no need for an appeal."

'Offensive claims'

Asked about any deal over the release, Col Gaddafi said: "No, no, it is very clear, he had this illness and consequently they were compelled to release him because of this disease. There was no deal or anything else."

He was interviewed in New York, where he has addressed the United Nations General Assembly.

Libya has formally accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and has paid billions of dollars in compensation to families of the victims.

Megrahi
The release of Megrahi caused outrage among some Americans

Megrahi, 57, was serving life in Greenock prison for the 1988 bombing of PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, which killed 270 people.

His release in August was condemned by the American government and prompted questions about whether a behind-the-scenes deal was done to secure the release.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has insisted there was "no conspiracy, no cover-up, no double dealing, no deal on oil".

And Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said suggestions the release was linked to a UK-Libya trade deal were "offensive".

He added it was "implausible" the UK would barter over the fate of Megrahi and then tell the Scottish government to free him.

'Terror Council'

But at the time Col Gaddafi praised the "courageous" decision to release Megrahi and he also thanked those who he said had encouraged it, including the Queen and Prince Andrew as well as his "friend" Mr Brown.

Col Gadaffi's son, Saif al-Islam, then told Libyan TV Megrahi's case was "always on the negotiating table" during talks with the UK on commercial contracts.

However, the Libyan leader's television interview is the first time he has publicly denied any deal being done to bring Megrahi back to Tripoli.

On Wednesday Col Gaddafi delivered a 94-minute speech to the General Assembly that touched on everything from the assassination of John F Kennedy to swine flu.

He also denounced the powers of the UN Security Council, which he said should be called the "Terror Council".



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