- Associated Press - Sunday, August 28, 2011

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — The Libyan rebel government will not deport the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, its justice minister said Sunday.

New York senators on Monday asked the Libyan transitional government to hold Abdel-Baset al-Megrahi fully accountable for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people.

But transitional government Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi told journalists in Tripoli that the request by American senators had “no meaning” because al-Megrahi had already been tried and convicted.

“We will not hand over any Libyan citizen. It was Gadhafi who handed over Libyan citizens,” he said, referring to the government’s decision to turn al-Megrahi over to a Scottish court for trial.

The Scottish government released al-Megrahi in 2009, believing he would soon die of cancer. He was greeted as a hero in his native Libya and met with Col. Moammar Gadhafi. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, had encouraged the new Libyan leadership to hold al-Megrahi accountable.

“A new Libya can send a strong statement to the world by declaring it will no longer be a haven for this convicted terrorist,” he said.

Scottish officials overseeing al-Megrahi’s parole have said they want to contact him now that the fighting between Libyan forces and rebels has reached Tripoli.

Al-Megrahi is the only person convicted in the Lockerbie bombing, Britain’s worst terrorist attack. His release after serving eight years of a life sentence infuriated the families of many victims, who suspected Britain’s real motive was to improve relations with oil-rich Libya.