Lockerbie Bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi funeral to take place
MORE than 100 young relatives and friends of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's family gathered outside the villa built for him by the Gaddafi regime in preparation for the funeral, which is expected to take place on Monday.
As mourners and well-wishers, mostly women, filed in, there were occasional clashes with the journalists who had gathered on the door-step. "Leave us in peace. Is it too much to ask?" one man said.
They were particularly angry with a crew from Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based television channel which Gaddafi loyalists blame for drumming up international intervention to end his rule.
The funeral was initially expected to take place on the day of Megrahi's death, in line with Islamic tradition, but was put off to allow relatives to come from Sebha, his hometown in the deep south.
Sebha is the heartland of both the Megarha tribe, to which he belonged, and the Gadadfa tribe of the former Libyan dictator. Col Gaddafi filled his intelligence and air services with members of the Megarha, including Megrahi himself.
Many of the people gathered outside the house insisted that Megrahi was a scapegoat - but not that Libya was innocent of the Lockerbie killings. It is popularly supposed by many Libyans that he was sacrificed by the regime to cover up for insiders more directly involved, and that both he and his powerful tribe were promised that unstinting efforts to bring him back would be made once sanctions were lifted.
A senior army official said: "He was innocent but still not a Libyan hero. He was in prison for Gaddafi and not the Libyan people."
Mohammed Harizi, the official spokesman for the interim ruling National Transitional Council, said: "No official is expected to attend his funeral. However, the investigation will continue."