Image: Moussa Koussa
Chris Helgren  /  Reuters file
Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, who has defected, should be questioned over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, say British relatives of the victims. staff and news service reports
updated 3/31/2011 1:27:07 PM ET 2011-03-31T17:27:07

A senior Libyan official said Thursday he is resigning his post, the second high-profile defection from Moammar Gadhafi's regime in as many days.

Ali Abdessalam Treki, a former foreign minister and U.N. General Assembly president, had been named to represent Libya at the United Nations after a wave of defections early in the uprising. But Treki, who is currently in Cairo, said in a statement posted on several opposition websites that he's not going to accept that job or any other.

"We should not let our country fall into an unknown fate," he said. "It is our nation's right to live in freedom, democracy and a good life."

The announcement comes a day after ex-Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa flew to England and told the British government he was resigning as well. The defections are a sign the regime is cracking at the highest levels and give a boost to Libyan rebels after a string of military setbacks in the east.

Treki did not give more details, but Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's U.N. deputy ambassador whose early defection to the opposition spurred defections around the world, said the announcement was made Thursday morning.

Story: What you need to know about the unrest in the Mideast

"Now, we are sure he took a position and he is no longer in the service of the regime," Dabbashi told The Associated Press. "He is a little bit late. We expected him to take this position maybe 10 days ago or so, but anyway it is never too late. It is good that he joined the Libyan people and to announce his defection of the regime."

Abdel-Moneim al-Houni, the former Arab League representative in Cairo, said Treki had intended to announce his position three weeks ago, but needed time.

Al-Houni, who also resigned early in the Libyan uprising that began Feb. 15, also welcomed Koussa's decision to resign and said more defections could be expected in coming days.

"Koussa is one of the pillars of Gadhafi's regime since the 1970s. His defection means that he knew that the end of Gadhafi is coming and he wanted to jump from the sinking boat."

Koussa is not being offered immunity from prosecution, British Foreign Minister William Hague said Thursday, as relatives of those killed in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing called for him to face justice.

Hague told a news conference that the defection of Koussa would encourage others close to Gadhafi to quit the Libyan leader's regime amid the country's ongoing revolt. "Gadhafi must be asking himself who will be the next to abandon him," he said.

Story: Libya's foreign minister defects

Hague said Koussa, who flew into a British military airbase Wednesday, was voluntarily talking to British officials and had not been offered any immunity from British or international prosecution.

The former head of the CIA's investigation into the Lockerbie bombing told Thursday that he had "no doubt" Koussa had been involved in planning the 19 88 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people, including many Americans, and also the bombing of a French airliner in central Africa in which 170 people died.

Koussa was a senior Libyan intelligence official at the time and was promoted to head of its intelligence services in 1994.

But Sir Richard Dalton, an expert on Libya based at the London think tank Chatham House, said the idea that Koussa was the mastermind of the Lockerbie bombing was a "totally unsubstantiated" allegation, saying it was not mentioned at Abdel Baset al-Megrahi's trial. Al-Megrahi, a former Libyan security service agent, was convicted of the bombing by a Scottish court in 2001.

Dalton, who was a British diplomat from 1970 to 2006 and U.K. ambassador to Libya from 1999 to 2002, said Koussa was "extremely central to many of the negotiations on matters of vital importance to British interests, including the settlement of all the issues around Lockerbie."

He said Libya had not been linked to international terrorism from 1995 onwards.

'Horrible human being'
Susan Cohen, 73, of New Jersey, whose daughter Theodora was killed in the Lockerbie bombing, said Koussa was a "a very evil man ... a horrible human being."

She told that he should face a straight choice: Provide evidence implicating Gadhafi personally in the attack or be put on trial.

"If Moussa Koussa is to get anything out of this, Moussa Koussa has to absolutely give all the information, very specific information (about the Lockerbie bombing)," she said.

"He has to do this, otherwise he should be tried and I personally think he should be executed," Cohen added.

But, she said, "the most important thing is to get Gadhafi" and she would be prepared for a deal to be made with Koussa to achieve that.

"If they can get Moussa Koussa to help them get Gadhafi, that's fine ... the major monster is Moammar Gadhafi," she said.

'Blood on his hands'
Vince Cannistraro, formerly the CIA official who headed the agency's investigation into Lockerbie, said he was convinced Koussa was involved in planning the bombings of Pan Am 103 and the French airliner.

But he said Koussa had been "carrying out Gadhafi's orders."

"In terms of ultimate responsibility, it was Moammar Gadhafi," he said.

Cannistraro added that Koussa was also involved in killings of Libyan dissidents in the U.K. and Italy in the 1980s and Gadhafi's opponents in Libya.

He said his personal view was Koussa should face justice in Libya, assuming the country emerges from the current conflict with the rebels in charge.

Story: The two faces of Gadhafi's right-hand man

"Clearly Moussa Koussa has a lot of blood on his hands and is not going to be the subject of much love from whatever opposition emerges in Libya," Cannistraro said.

"It's up to the Libyans to deal with Moussa Koussa because of the long service he gave to Moammar Gadhafi and the killing of Libyans," he said.

Cannistraro noted that Koussa was likely "providing information right now to the British government about what's going on in Libya, about Gadhafi, that may help the present coalition enforcing the U.N. Security Council resolution."

John Mosey, a member of the U.K. Families Flight 103 group, told Thursday that he still had doubts that Libyans were responsible for the Lockerbie bombing, despite al-Megrahi's conviction. Mosey said he had suspicions that a Palestinian terrorist group was responsible instead.

"Having said that … Mr. Megrahi is a convicted mass murderer. That's on the record book," Mosey told "If he is guilty, then Mr. Moussa Koussa was his boss and if that's the case he should be in the dock and if there's evidence to convict him, he should be convicted. He really ought to be in custody."

Mosey's daughter Helga, 19, died in the bombing.

'Lies and deception'
He said he hoped Koussa would be able to provide new information about the attack, but said anything he said would have to be treated with extreme caution.

"This man is a spook and his whole life has been based on lies and deception. I wouldn't believe him if he told me the time," Mosey said.

"We're not sure if he has abandoned the regime. He says he has. What's his agenda? Is he looking to cut a deal?" Mosey added. "He’s got good reason to say certain things and will tell people what they want to hear. But who knows what will come out? Sometimes wicked people do tell the truth."

Mosey wondered if Koussa, who has a sociology degree from Michigan State University, was hoping to disassociate himself from Gadhafi so that he could became part of any new regime set up after the dictator's fall.

He expressed doubts that Koussa would be prosecuted because of the current situation in Libya.

"I think they will get as much information out of him (as they can) and make sure he can spend a peaceful life … in anonymity in some other part of the world," Mosey said.

"To me, that's the most likely thing to happen. It is a great pity … it shows the duplicity of our political systems. They will compromise to encourage others to defect," he added.

Another British relative of a victim, Jim Swire, told the U.K.'s Sky News that he was "jubilant" about Koussa's presence in Britain.

He said he met Koussa in Libya in 1991 in what was at first a "scary interrogation" that ended with them parting on "reasonably good terms."

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Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed, said he had contacted his lawyers in the hope he would be able to speak to Koussa.

Swire told Sky he had also contacted prosecutors in Scotland.

He said the prosecutors "keep telling us they have an ongoing, active investigation" and therefore police officers should be sent to interview Koussa.

"I don't know whether he was involved in my daughter's murder or not," he said.

Hague told the news conference that Koussa had been his channel of communication to Gadhafi's government in recent weeks and he had spoken regularly to him.

"He said that he is resigning his post. We are discussing this with him. We encourage those around Gadhafi to abandon him," Hague said.

"His resignation shows that Gadhafi's regime, which has already seen significant defections to the opposition, is fragmented, under pressure and crumbling from within," Hague added.

Noman Benotman, a friend of Koussa and analyst at Britain's Quilliam think tank, said the foreign minister had defected because he opposed government attacks on civilians.'s Ian Johnston, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Libyan foreign minister defects to Britain

Data: Young and restless: Demographics fuel Mideast protests

Photos: Libya's uprising against Gadhafi

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  1. People gathering in Benghazi, Libya in mid-February of 2011 as protest against the rule of Moammar Gadhafi grew, in part triggered by the arrest of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel. EDITOR'S NOTE: The content, date and location of this image could not be independently verified. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Buildings at the entrance to a security forces compound burn in Benghazi, Feb. 21, 2011. Libyan protesters celebrated in the streets of Benghazi, claiming control of the country's second largest city after bloody fighting, and anti-government unrest spread to the capital with clashes in Tripoli's main square for the first time. (Alaguri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi speaks on state television. Feb. 22, and signalled his defiance over a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule. (Libya TV via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Libyan U.N. ambassador Shalgham is embraced by Dabbashi, Libya's deputy U.N. Ambassador after denouncing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for the first time during a Security Council meeting at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York on Feb. 25. Shalgam, a longtime friend and member of Gadhafi's inner circle, had previously refused to denounce Gadhafi. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Thousands of Libyans gather for the Muslim Friday prayers outside the courthouse in the eastern city of Benghazi on Feb. 25, 2011. Perhaps 8,000 people gathered for the midday prayers with a local imam, who delivered his sermon alongside the coffins of three men killed in the violent uprising that routed Gadhafi loyalists from Benghazi. (Gianluigi Guercia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Rebels hold a young man at gunpoint, who they accuse of being a loyalist to Gadhafi, between the towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf, March 3, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Pro-Gadhafi soldiers and supporters gather in Green Square in Tripoli, March 6, 2011. Thousands of Moammar Gadhafi's supporters poured into the streets of Tripoli, waving flags and firing their guns in the air in the Libyan leader's main stronghold, claiming overnight military successes. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Rebel fighters jump away from shrapnel during heavy shelling by forces loyal to Gadhafi near Bin Jawad, March 6. Rebels in east Libya regrouped and advanced on Bin Jawad after Gadhafi forces ambushed rebel fighters and ejected them from the town earlier in the day. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Libyan rebel fighters take cover as a bomb dropped by an airforce fighter jet explodes near a checkpoint on the outskirts of the oil town of Ras Lanuf on March 7, 2011. (Marco Longari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Libyan rebels fire rockets at government troops on the frontline. March 9, 2011 near Ras Lanuf. The rebels pushed back government troops westward towards Ben Jawat. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Libyan government soldiers aboard tanks at the west gate of the town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Libya's army pounded an opposition-held city in the country's west and battled fighters trying to block its advance on a rebel bastion in the east amid flagging diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed. EDITOR'S NOTE: Picture taken on a government guided tour. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Libyan people in Benghazi celebrate after the United Nations Security Council authorized a no-fly zone over Libya, March 18. Thousands of Libyans erupted in cheers as the news flashed on a giant screen in besieged Benghazi late March 17. After weeks of discussion, the UN Security Council banned flights in Libya's airspace and authorized "all necessary means" to implement the ban, triggering intervention by individual countries and organizations like NATO. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A picture combo shows a Libyan jet bomber crashing after being apparently shot down in Benghazi on March 19, 2011 as the Libyan rebel stronghold came under attack. Air strikes and sustained shelling of the city's south sent thick smoke into the sky. (Patrick Baz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Residents of Benghazi flee the city along the road toward Tobruk, in an attempt to escape fighting in their city, March 19, 2011. Gaddafi's troops pushed into the outskirts of Benghazi, a city of 670,000 people, in an apparent attempt to pre-empt Western military intervention expected after a meeting of Western and Arab leaders in Paris. (Reuters TV) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Gadhafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A rebel fighter carries his weapon outside the northeastern Libyan town of Ajdabiyah, March 21, 2011. A wave of air strikes hit Gaddafi's troops around Ajdabiyah, a strategic town in the barren, scrub of eastern Libya that rebels aim to retake and where their fighters said they need more help. (Finbarr O'reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A Libyan rebel prays next to his gun on the frontline of the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, March 21, 2011. The international military intervention in Libya is likely to last "a while," a top French official said, echoing Moammar Gadhafi's warning of a long war ahead as rebels, energized by the strikes on their opponents. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Libyan rebels retreat as mortars from Gadhafi's forces are fired on them near the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, March 22, 2011. Coalition forces bombarded Libya for a third straight night, targeting the air defenses and forces of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, stopping his advances and handing some momentum back to the rebels, who were on the verge of defeat. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A Libyan man is comforted by hospital staff as he reacts after identifying his killed brother in the morgue of the Jalaa hospital in Benghazi, March 22, 2011. His brother was killed earlier in fighting around the city of Ajdabiya. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Volunteer fighters training at a rebel army training camp in Benghazi, March 29, 2011. Pro-government forces intensified their attacks on Libyan rebels, driving them back over ground they had taken in recent days. The rebels had reached Nawfaliya, but pulled back to Bin Jawad. (Manu Brabo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Smoke billows as seven explosions were reported in the tightly-guarded residence of leader Moammar Gadhafi and military targets in the suburb of Tajura. Two explosions also rocked the Libyan capital Tripoli on March 29, 2011, as NATO-led coalition aircraft had been seen in the skies over the capital. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A Libyan rebel urges people to leave, as shelling from Gadhafi's forces started landing on the frontline outside of Bin Jawaad, 93 miles east of Sirte, March 29, 2011. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. General Abdel-Fattah Younis, former interior minister in the Gadhafi regime who defected in the early days of the uprising, is greeted by Libyan rebels at the front line near Brega, April 1, 2011. (Altaf Qadri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Libyan men show the V-sign for victory as they stand on the deck of a Turkish ship arriving from Misrata to the port of Benghazi who were evacuated along with others the injured in the fighting between rebel and Gadhafi forces, April 03, 2011. The Turkish vessel took hundreds of people wounded in the Libyan uprising for treatment in Turkey from the two cities of Misrata and Benghazi. (Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A wounded prisoner from Gadhafi's forces is transported in the back of a pickup truck by rebels, on the way to a hospital for treatment, half way between Brega and Ajdabiya, April 9, 2011. Rebels say they took two prisoners after a clash with soldiers near Brega's university outside the government-controlled oil facilities, marking a noticeable advance by rebels. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. In this image taken from TV, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi makes a pubic appearance in Tripoli, April 14 2011. Gadhafi defiantly waved at his supporters while being driven around Tripoli while standing up through the sunroof of a car. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A rebel fighter celebrates as his comrades fire a rocket barrage toward the positions of government troops April 14, 2011, west of Ajdabiyah. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Gadhafi supporters hold copies of his portrait as they gather at the Bab Al Azizia compound in Tripoli, April 15, 2011. Rebels held much of eastern Libya by mid-April, while Gadhafi controlled the west, with the front line shifting back and forth in the middle. (Pier Paolo Cito / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Doctors work on a baby who suffered cuts from shrapnel that blasted through the window of his home during fighting in the besieged city of Misrata, April 18, 2011. Thousands of civilians are trapped in Misrata as fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels there. The Libyan government has come under international criticism for using heavy weapons and artillery in its assault on Misrata. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. MISRATA, LIBYA - APRIL 20: Libyan rebel fighters discuss how to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from the next room during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi April 20, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building that fought back instead of surrendering, firing on the rebels in the building and seriously wounding two of them during the standoff. Fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels ensconced there. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images) (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Libyan rebel fighters carry out a comrade wounded during an effort to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from a building during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Gaddafi, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building where they fought back instead of surrendering. Two rebels were seriously wounded during the standoff. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Rebels tread carefully as they prepare to invade a house where soldiers from the pro-government forces had their base in the Zwabi area of Misrata on April 24, 2011. (Andre Liohn / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Libyans inspect damage and an unexploded missile at the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, May 1, 2011. Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli that killed one of his sons and three young grandchildren. EDITOR'S NOTE: Photo taken on a government guided tour. (Darko Bandic / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Moammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, center, leaves the funeral of his brother Saif Al-Arab Gadhafi, who was killed during air strikes by coalition forces, at the El Hani cemetery in Tripoli, May 2, 2011. Crowds chanting Gadhafi's name gathered in Tripoli for the funeral of his son and three grandchildren. (Louafi Larbi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Fleeing migrants and Libyans are seen on board an International Organization of Migration ship leaving the port of Misrata on May 4, 2011, as Gadhafi forces continued to pound the city. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Libyan men watch as the main fuel depot in Libya's third largest city, Misrata, burns following a bombing by Gadhafi's forces on May 7, 2011. Libyan regime forces shelled fuel depots in Misrata and dropped mines into its harbor using helicopters bearing the Red Cross emblem, rebels said as they braced for a ground assault. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Libyan rebels celebrate near the airport of Misrata on May 11, 2011 after capturing the city's strategic airport following a fierce battle with Moammar Gadhafi's troops -- their first significant advance in weeks. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Women react after a protest against Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Benghazi, Libya, on May 16, 2011. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, announced that he would seek arrest warrants against the leader of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and the country's intelligence chief on charges of crimes against humanity. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Tripoli street in Misrata is seen from the terrace of a building used by Gadhafi’s snipers before the rebels took control of the area on May 22, 2011. The weeks-long siege of the city ended in mid-May and Tripoli Street was the site of the fiercest fighting in the battle and a turnin point in the war. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A rebel fighter gives water to a soldier loyal to Gadhafi after he was wounded and then captured near the front line, west of Misrata on May 23, 2011. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. An uncle, left, prays over the body of one and a half year-old Mohsen Ali al-Sheikh during a washing ritual during the funeral at his family's house in Misrata, May 27, 2011. The child was killed by a gunshot during clashes between rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces earlier in the day. (Wissam Saleh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. The body of a drowned refugee floats near a capsized ship which was transporting an estimated 850 refugees from Libya, approximately 22 miles north of the Tunisian islands of Kerkennah, June 4, 2011. At least 578 survived the sinking. (Lindsay Mackenzie / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. A photograph taken from a video by a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows Mutassem Gadhafi, son of Moammar Gadhafi, drinking water and smoking a cigarette following his capture and shortly before his death, in Sirte, Oct. 20, 2011. (- / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. A photograph taken from mobile phone video of a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows the capture of Moammar Gadhafi in Sirte on Oct. 20, 2011. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. This image provided by the Libyan Youth Group on Nov. 19, 2011, shows Seif al-Islam Gadhafi after he was captured near the Niger border with Libya. Moammar Gadhafi's son, the only wanted member of the ousted ruling family to remain at large, was captured as he traveled with aides in a convoy in Libya's southern desert. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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