Hague says no immunity for Libyan minister Kussa

LONDON: Libya’s foreign minister has not been offered immunity following his unexpected arrival in Britain, Foreign Secretary William Hague said, while urging other members of Moamer Kadhafi’s “crumbling” regime to quit.Mussa Kussa, a former head of Libyan intelligence and one-time ambassador to Britain, arrived “under his own free will” at Farnborough airport, in Hampshire, on Wednesday, Hague said.He was being questioned by British officials, but Hague insisted that Kussa, who has been accused of masterminding the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, had not been offered immunity from prosecution.”Mussa Kussa is not being offered any immunity from British or international justice,” Hague told reporters.The 59-year-old Libyan flew to Britain with his son from Tunisia, where he had spent two days on what Tripoli had officially described as a private visit.Kadhafi’s government, embroiled in a war with rebel fighters against his 42-year rule, later shrugged off the defection by saying the regime “does not depend on individuals”.

Hague said the Western-educated Kussa had told British officials he was resigning from his job, adding that he was now being held in a “secure place” while they discussed “his options and our options”.A senior administration official in the United States, which with Britain and France has led air strikes to protect civilians from Kadhafi’s forces, said Kussa’s resignation showed “the writing’s on the wall” for the regime.Hague echoed this, saying: “His resignation shows that Kadhafi’s regime, which has already seen significant defections to the opposition, is fragmented, under pressure and crumbling from within.”Kadhafi must be asking himself who will be the next to abandon him.”A senior aide from Kadhafi’s regime has been in talks with the British government, the Guardian reported on its website Thursday.the Foreign Office refused to comment on the report which asserted that British officials met with Mohammed Ismail, a senior aide to Kadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam, for confidential discussions.

The United States said Thursday that Kussa could provide vital information about the Libyan leader.”Mussa Kussa is one of Kadhafi’s most trusted aides who can help provide critical intelligence about Kadhafi’s current state of mind and military plans,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said.The Independent Friday reported that British officials were in contact with 10 more senior figures from Kadhafi’s regime whom were considering defection.Kussa has a chequered history of ties with Britain.As head of Libyan intelligence for 15 years before becoming foreign minister in March 2009, he is credited with convincing Kadhafi to dismantle his nuclear weapons programme and renew ties with the West, including Britain.”He played a fundamentally important role in getting Kadhafi to agree to give up his nuclear weapons programme and his chemical weapons programme,” former foreign secretary Jack Straw told BBC radio.However, he is also suspected of planning the bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie in December 1988, which killed 270 people. Most of the victims were US citizens.Scottish prosecutors said they had requested an interview with Kussa over the bombing.Libyan agent Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi was jailed for the attack, and granted compassionate release from a Scottish jail in August 2009, but many of the bereaved families still have question about who ordered it and why.Kussa was expelled from Britain in 1980, just months after he was appointed ambassador to London, after telling a journalist he approved of killing “enemies” of the Libyan regime. – Yahoonews