Headed To Qatar, Former Libyan Foreign Minister Leaves U.K.

Originally published on April 12, 2011 12:51 pm

Moussa Koussa, the Libyan foreign minister who defected to England, is headed to Doha in Qatar to talk with other Libyans, including members of the rebellion, about the country's future.

The BBC reports:

[A Foreign & Commonwealth Office] spokesman said it was understood he would meet the Qatari government and a range of other Libyan representatives in the capital city Doha.

A spokesman said Moussa Koussa was "a free individual, who can travel to and from the UK as he wishes."

Koussa defected to the U.K. via Tunisia in March. After he landed, he was interviewed by the MI6, the U.K. intelligence agency, as well as Scottish police, who were looking into his involvement in the Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 people in 1988.

The Guardian reports that Koussa's trip has been met with dismay by the families of the Lockerbie victims. They said that the U.K. allowing Koussa to travel was a "betrayal."

"I think the British are being played by him," Brian Flynn, whose brother, JP Flynn, died in the bombing, told The Guardian. "He has convinced them he can be valuable in this process, but he is not the suave diplomat in the suit sitting on the sidelines, he is one of the key guys who mastermined [the bombing of] Pan Am flight 103," Flynn said.

Some politicians, reports The Guardian, are also not happy with the way Koussa is being handled:

Robert Halfon, a Conservative MP, said the British people would be "very concerned that our country is being used as a transit lounge for alleged war criminals".

He added: "This sends the wrong signal to Gaddafi and those complicit in dictatorships everywhere. It should not be forgotten that Moussa Koussa was allegedly behind many IRA outrages, the Lockerbie bombing and the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher. He should be here in the UK or facing trial in the international courts for complicity in the Gaddafi regime."

Koussa was one of the more senior members of Col. Moammar Gadhafi's regime. He headed the intelligence service until a few years ago. NPR's Rachel Martin has more on the role Koussa played in Libya and his relationship with the U.S.

Yesterday, Koussa made his first public statement since his defection. He told the BBC that all sides should avoid doing anything that would cause a civil war in Libya and turn it into the "new Somalia." The Guardian reports on how he explained his defection:

... He said that recent events had changed things."That's why I took this decision. Not because I'm waiting for anything, but because I know that what I did to resign will cause me problems, but I'm ready to make that sacrifice for the sake of my country." He said earlier: "My country lives in a difficult time. It's the worst. When the Libyans started to lose security and stability I decided to resign. I have no contact with the Libyan regime."

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