WASHINGTON -- The wife of a Justice Department special agent killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 said she doesn’t believe officials in Britain who insist Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa was not offered immunity from prosecution when he defected there Wednesday.
Stephanie Bernstein, a rabbi from Bethesda, Md. whose husband, Michael, died in the bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, told HuffPost the defector “has an incredible amount of blood on his hands” from his years as Muammar Gaddafi’s right-hand man.
“He’s a murderer. He did Gaddafi’s dirty work for 30 years,” Bernstein said. “He shouldn’t be given immunity from prosecution. The Brits have said they haven’t offered this. I’m not so sure. He wouldn’t have left (or) been spirited out of Libya unless he had the outlines of a deal. He’s too smart.”
Bernstein is one of the most outspoken family members of the 270 people -- mostly Americans -- who died on the doomed flight.
American authorities have long believed Koussa to be the mastermind of the Lockerbie attack, which took place when he was Libya’s external intelligence chief.
In an email to anxious and angry Lockerbie families, Lindsey Miller, the Scottish prosecutor on the case, wrote that "matters are at a very early stage" but that "we wish to interview him regarding any information he may have concerning the bombing of Pan Am flight 103."
Bernstein said she was taking the message with a grain of salt given the British handling of Libyan Agent Abdel Baset Ali Megrahi, the only person convicted in the Lockerbie bombing.
In August 2009, Scottish authorities released Megrahi on “compassionate grounds,” citing his terminal prostate cancer. The decision sparked anger from families, especially amid evidence it was linked to a British oil deal with Libya.
Megrahi was given a hero’s welcome in Tripoli and, six month’s after being declared at “death’s door,” reportedly resided in a luxury villa. He is still alive today and living somewhere in Libya.
Koussa was among the Libyan officials who traveled to Scotland to negotiate Megrahi’s freedom.
Bernstein said the British officials who released Megrahi were “two-faced and disgusting,” and she isn’t entirely sure Prime Minister David Cameron will do the right thing with Koussa.
“I know this is a different government,” she said, “but I don’t trust that a deal has not been made.”
British Foreign Secretary Wiliam Hague said Thursday that Koussa was not being offered immunity from prosecution by British authorities or the International Criminal Court, which has listed him as a suspect in ordering “crimes against humanity.” He said Koussa was “voluntarily talking” to British officials.
Read Miller's full email to Lockerbie survivors below:
Many of you will be aware of the ongoing media coverage regarding the presence of Mr Moussa Koussa in the United Kingdom. We have had a number of queries from some of you today either via e-mail or by telephone and we thought that it might be helpful to set out our position as things stand.
Please bear in mind that matters are at a very early stage and are very fluid but we can confirm that we have today notified the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that we wish to interview him regarding any information he may have concerning the bombing of Pan Am flight 103.
We have stated to you all on a number of occasions that the investigation into the bombing remains open and we will pursue all relevant lines of inquiry in conjunction with our US counterparts. That remains the position and we will continue to provide you all with updates wherever possible, balancing that against the need to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further queries.