Mitt Romney thinks so, but it would carry significant risks at a sensitive time in U.S.-Libya relations
Saif Qaddafi, right, escorts Megrahi on his return to Libya / AP
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has called on the government of post-Qaddafi Libya to extradite the man convicted of bombing a civilian airliner over Scotland. The 1988 incident that killed 270 people -- and the welfare of the man responsible, who was allegedly working at the behest of Muammar Qaddafi -- have been at the center of Libya's tense relationship with the West for decades. But is Romney's demand -- quickly echoed by Democratic Senator Bob Menendez -- a good idea?
"The world is about to be rid of Muammar al-Qaddafi, the brutal tyrant who terrorized the Libyan people. It is my hope that Libya will now move toward a representative form of government that supports freedom, human rights, and the rule of law. As a first step, I call on this new government to arrest and extradite the mastermind behind the bombing of Pan Am 103, Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi, so justice can finally be done," Romney's statement read.
Megrahi, known in the West as the Lockerbie bomber, was released to Libya by Scottish authorities in 2009 on what was described as "compassionate" grounds -- he had reportedly been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had three months to live. He was ferried back home by none other than Saif Qaddafi, the regime heir apparent who has since come under an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court. Two years later, he is still believed to be alive and well in Tripoli. Last month, Libyan state TV showed him attending a pro-Qaddafi rally.