Thursday 14 December 2017

Released Lockerbie bomber al-Megrahi dies in Libya

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi pictured in 1992. Photo: Getty Images
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi pictured in 1992. Photo: Getty Images
Megrahi speaks in a television interview monitored in Tunis in October 1998. Photo: Reuters
Emergency service workers are seen next to the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103, in a farmer's field east of Lockerbie, Scotland in this December 23, 1988. Photo: Reuters
al-Megrahi walks towards a waiting aeroplane at Glasgow airport after being released from prison in this August 20, 2009. Photo: Reuters
Convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi speaks during an exclusive interview with Reuters TV at his home in Tripoli in this October 3, 2011. Photo: Reuters

The only person convicted for the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, has died in Libya.

He died at home after a long battle with cancer, his brother Abdulhakim told Reuters news agency today.

Al-Megrahi, 59, was sentenced to life in prison for the 1988 bombing of a US airliner which claimed 270 lives. He was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 and returned to Libya.

The bombing of the plane, travelling from London to New York four days before Christmas, killed all 259 people on board. Eleven residents of the Dumfries and Galloway town also died after the plane crashed down on their homes. It was Britain's biggest terrorist atrocity.

After protracted international pressure, Megrahi was put on trial under Scots law at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. He was found guilty in 2001 of mass murder and was ordered to serve a minimum of 27 years behind bars.

Despite claims that he could not have worked alone, and the lingering suspicion by some that he was innocent, Megrahi was the only man ever convicted over the terrorist attack.

He was freed from prison in August 2009 after serving nearly eight years of his sentence after he dropped his second appeal against conviction at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill's decision to allow Megrahi to return home to die in Libya sparked international condemnation from some relatives of victims and politicians, who demanded he be returned to jail.

US families were among the most vocal critics of the decision, along with US president Barack Obama. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton branded the move "absolutely wrong". American fury at the decision was compounded by the hero's welcome Megrahi received in Tripoli upon his return.

British prime minister David Cameron has also come under pressure from some US senators for an independent inquiry into the decision to free the bomber. However, the move also attracted support from some victims' relatives in Britain, and high profile figures such as Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Press Association

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