BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - The B.P. oil company may have the most tarnished company name in the world right now. On top of the oil clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico the company has a new public relations problem that's tied to the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people including Hamburg, NY native Colleen Brunner.
B.P. is now accused of brokering an oil-for-terrorist exchange that resulted in the freedom of Pan Am bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi. Monday morning in Buffalo, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) joined with the family of one of the bombing victims to call for an investigation into B.P.'s alleged involvement. "It's been extremely trying on all of us and we appreciate the efforts everyone's putting forth trying to resolve this and it just keeps coming up," says Mike Brunner, Colleen Brunner's brother.
The latest twist in the case is what Sen. Schumer calls "mounting evidence" that B.P. pushed the British government to support the release of al-Megrahi so the company could secure an oil drilling contract in Libya. "A blood money deal is a blood money deal and it can't be disguised," says Schumer.
Scottish authorities released al-Megrahi last year after a doctor claimed the prisoner was dying of prostate cancer and had only a few months to live. Al-Megrahi though is still alive, living in a villa on the Mediterranean and a doctor now says he could live another ten years. "It's disgusting we were told al-Megrahi had only three months to live and was being let go for so-called compassionate reasons," says Schumer.
Schumer now wants the U.S. to use its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to launch a criminal investigation of B.P.'s alleged involvement. "It (the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) says a corporation like B.P. cannot give anything of value to foreign governments like Libya to influence their decisions," explains Schumer. The something-of-value Schumer believes B.P. gave to Libya is the lobbying of the British government to free a terrorist.
B.P.'s press office sent Eyewitness News a statement Monday afternoon stating that the company had nothing to do with the release of al-Megrahi. Britain's Foreign Minister also said in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that there's no evidence that B.P. influenced the release.
Schumer wants the U.S. to move forward with an investigation even if the British government chooses not to investigate.
"This man al-Megrahi was one of the most evil men of the last century, and if he can get away with it what will other would-be terrorists say? 'Well I can go do something, kill 270 people and then I'll be free and greeted as a hero in my home country?'," asks Schumer.