Anger as EU lifts sanctions on Koussa
The European Union has lifted sanctions against former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa, the most senior member of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi's regime to have defected.
An EU official yesterday said the sanctions, which included a visa ban, were lifted at the request of the UK, where Mr Koussa flew on 30 March to defect.
He said that part of the motive was to encourage other Gaddafi insiders to follow suit.
All 27 EU countries had to agree for the sanctions to be lifted, and the British Foreign Office issued a statement explaining its reasoning.
"Sanctions are introduced to invoke behavioural change and as Moussa Koussa has chosen to leave the regime he is no longer sanctioned in this way," it said.
Mr Koussa has been blamed for some of Libya's brutality and credited for some of its diplomatic successes. He was Libya's chief of intelligence for more than a decade and is privy to all the inner workings of the regime. He has been debriefed thoroughly by British officials.
The Libyan opposition blames him for the assassinations of dissidents in western capitals and for orchestrating the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, and the bombing of another jet over Niger a year later. The links have never been confirmed.
In later years, Mr Koussa played an important role in persuading western nations to lift sanctions on Libya and remove its name from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. He led settlements on Lockerbie, offered all information about Libya's nuclear programme and gave London and Washington information about Islamic militants after the 11 September attacks.
The move is understood to have been proposed by Foreign Secretary William Hague when he met European counterparts on Tuesday. The US lifted its sanctions against him last week.
But Conservative MP Robert Halfon, whose family fled Libya when Gaddafi took power, last night said: "I am astonished that the EU, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to give immunity from sanctions to an alleged war criminal."
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