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Opinion THURSDAY, 2 August 2007

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Saif al-Islam: There Is a Link Between Megrahi and the Nurses

There is a connection between the cases of Lockerby bomber's - the Libyan Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi - and the Bulgarian nurses, said in his latest interview the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi Saif al-Islam for the French Le Mond. "We made a link between the cases. We also agreed to discuss the issue on a bilateral level - between Libya and Great Britain. Formerly, it was insisted that this discussion should be held on a broadly European level," he added. He also told about the rest of the behind-the-scene elements connected with the nurses' release. Al-Islam revealed that, first of all, there was an agreement for major French arms deliveries to Libya. Then, there was a favourable decision on the Megrahi case that allowed him to appeal his life imprisonment. That was a decision of immense importance as regards the positive ending of the Bulgarian medics' case. Saif al-Islam also said he hoped Megrahi will soon return to Libya and affirmed that Tripoli and London were close to signing an agreement for his extradition. A month ago Libyan emissaries were on a visit there to do with the matter.
According to Le Mond, Saif al-Islam imparted more import to the defence and arms delivery contracts Paris and Tripoli had discussed, than the nuclear reactor that was promised by the French. The bottom line of the agreement between Paris and Tripoli is not the nuclear project but that military deal, the edition underlines.
First of all, the agreement envisages joint military exercises. After this, Libya will buy Milan anti-tank guided missile systems worth about 100 million euro. A project for arms manufacturing has been worked out, as well as one for maintenance and production of military equipment. Representatives of Tales and Sagem French companies are currently on a visit to Libya.
Saif al-Islam emphasized that this would be the first Western arms delivery to Libya since 2004. According to him, a "tacit" embargo still existed and it was Germany that hesitated most.
"We have been negotiating the deal with France for quite a long time. We insisted that Sarkozy speeded up things. Now that the case of the Bulgarian medics is solved, a golden opportunity opens," he commented.
Saif al-Islam said that Muammar Gaddafi was expected to visit France and sign the treaties. Under them France will render help to Libya if the Jamahiriya's national security is jeopardized. The Libyans asked for such help but Saif al-Islam was not sure whether it was included in the document.
He specified that it was France that settled the problem with the children's families' compensations.
"They have found the funds for the families of the AIDS-infected children. I don't know the source of the money" he said.
When asked whether Qatar was the donor, he answered: "We have not asked. We wouldn't like to bother our friends."
Saif al-Islam says without any embarrassment that he has not believed in Bulgarian nurses' guilt and they were "scapegoats".
"Libya made a good bargain in this case," he stated.

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