ONTD Political

Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi dies

3:15 pm - 05/20/2012
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing above Scotland which killed 270 people, has died at his home in the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Megrahi, 60, was convicted by a special court in the Netherlands in 2001. He was released from prison in Scotland in 2009 on compassionate grounds. He was suffering from cancer and was said to have only months to live.

When he arrived back in Tripoli, he received a hero's welcome.

Shortly before being freed, Megrahi dropped his second appeal against his conviction.

His release sparked the fury of many of the relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie disaster. The US - whose citizens accounted for 189 of the dead - also criticised the move.

But others believed he was not guilty of the bombing. Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died at Lockerbie, called Megrahi's death a "very sad event".

"Right up to the end he was determined, for his family's sake... [that] the verdict against him should be overturned," said Dr Swire, who is a member of the Justice for Megrahi group.

"And also he wanted that for the sake of those relatives who had come to the conclusion after studying the evidence that he wasn't guilty, and I think that's going to happen."

Died at home

His brother Abdulhakim said on Sunday that Megrahi's health had deteriorated quickly and he died at home in Tripoli. He told the AFP news agency that Megrahi died at 13:00 local time (11:00 GMT).

The BBC's Rana Jawad, who is outside Megrahi's home in Tripoli, says family members are making preparations to receive guests paying their condolences.

Last month, Megrahi's son said his father had been taken to hospital for blood transfusions.

Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer, always denied any responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988. It remains the deadliest terrorist incident ever to have taken place on British soil.

All 259 people aboard the plane, which was travelling from London to New York, were killed, along with 11 others on the ground.

Investigators tracing the origins of scraps of clothes wrapped around the bomb followed a trail to a shop in Malta which led them, eventually, to Megrahi. He and another Libyan, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, were indicted by the Scottish and US courts in November 1991.

But Libya refused to extradite them. In 1999, after protracted negotiations, Libya handed the two men over for trial, under Scottish law but on neutral ground, the former US airbase at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.

Their trial began in May 2000. Ffimah was acquitted of all charges, but Megrahi was found guilty and sentenced to a minimum of 27 years in prison. He served the first part of his sentence at the maximum-security prison at Barlinnie, in Glasgow, but was transferred in 2005 to Greenock prison.

He lost his first appeal against conviction in 2002 but in 2007, his case was referred back to senior Scottish judges. He dropped that second case two days before he was released.

No extradition

Last August, after the fall of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, Megrahi was reported to be "in and out of a coma" at his home in Tripoli.

There have been calls for him to be returned to jail in the UK or tried in the US.

But shortly after they toppled Colonel Gaddafi, Libyan rebel leaders said they would not extradite Megrahi or any other Libyan.

Our correspondent says that since the fall of Gaddafi, more Libyans are expressing the view that whatever happened at Lockerbie was bigger than just Megrahi, and he may have been used as a scapegoat by the regime.

Last September, it emerged that former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair had raised Megrahi's case in talks with Gaddafi in 2008 and 2009 in Libya, shortly before Megrahi was freed.

At the time, Libya was threatening to sever commercial links with Britain if Megrahi was not released.

But Mr Blair's spokesman told Col Gaddafi it was a case for the Scottish authorities and no business deals were discussed. In his last interview, filmed in December 2011, Megrahi said: "I am an innocent man. I am about to die and I ask now to be left in peace with my family."

He had previously claimed he would release new information about the atrocity but little new has emerged.

Megrahi had rarely been seen since his return to Tripoli, but he was spotted on Libyan television at what appeared to be a pro-government rally in July 2011.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the public appearance confirmed that a "great mistake" was made in releasing him from jail.

thatdamnninja 20th-May-2012 02:26 pm (UTC)

maclyn 20th-May-2012 02:56 pm (UTC)
Rest in peace
theplanfailed 20th-May-2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
I remember this fella. Not the bombings but when he got out of jail.
missmurchison 20th-May-2012 05:54 pm (UTC)
I remember both. I especially remember the voice of one woman whose daughter was on the plane. She cried, "My baby!" when they told her the news. That echoes in my mind every time I'm separated from one of my kids, especially if they're traveling by plane.
celtic_thistle 21st-May-2012 12:07 am (UTC)
Okay that gave me chills.
bestdaywelived 20th-May-2012 03:08 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad he was given a hero's welcome for the murder of almost 300 people. I'm also glad that he was able to barely serve any time for his disgusting crime, and even more glad that he survived 3 years outside of prison and was celebrated upon release.

Actually, no, I'm just glad he's dead.
maclyn 20th-May-2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
He was innocent, and compassionate release for terminally ill prisoners is one of the few things about our legal system I take pride in.


ellonwye 20th-May-2012 03:14 pm (UTC)
I've seen people commenting that because he lived an additional 2 years after his release, they could have kept him imprisoned longer.

Yeah because cancer gives you the exact date it's gonna end you right? And all the time leading up to that involves no suffering at all!
maclyn 20th-May-2012 03:16 pm (UTC)
Pretty much - he also had access to newer hormonal treatments for testicular cancer in Libya that aren't available on the NHS.
akcipitrokulo 21st-May-2012 01:03 am (UTC)
It's also fairly well documented that the state of mind of the patient can have an effect on the outcome - and I'm guessing that being at home rather than in HMP Greenock would have a good psychological effect!
linda_lupos 21st-May-2012 10:20 am (UTC)
OT, but I'm watching Fruits Basket right now so I basically squealed "onigiri!" when I saw your icon. :p
tabaqui 20th-May-2012 03:52 pm (UTC)
Wow, 800 pages. I don't know if he's innocent or not - i wish that link would have summed up the relevant bits that would lead one to believe he was.
*unless i missed them in there? it seemed to be mostly talking about violations and if anyone would get in trouble for publishing that*
maclyn 20th-May-2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
Here's a statement from Justice for Megrahi that summarises the biggest points. Forensic scientist who worked on the case have been discredited, the US paid the main prosecution witness for his testimony, and the prosecution withheld evidence from the defence.

tabaqui 20th-May-2012 04:09 pm (UTC)
Wow. What a friggin' mess.

But isn't it always like that, when something of this magnitude happens, they want a 'guilty' verdict as quickly as possible, damn all.
stevie_jane 21st-May-2012 12:04 am (UTC)
Yup, and you're on point as always.

The case was a mess, compassionate release is a great thing, and considering he should have been released on appeal before we got to that point the posturing and tantrums surrounding his release were enraging and laughable.

People acting like Scotland was absurd for having compassion as part of its justice system in the first place was just absolutely rank. Also, acting like Westminster would know better how to deal with these things, and pretending that the Scottish ministers could only be puppets or pawns in the situation was really awful.
akcipitrokulo 21st-May-2012 01:00 am (UTC)
Regardless of his innocence or otherwise, giving terminally ill prisoners the opportunity to die at home is something that makes me proud of my country. Compassion is not something that should be regarded as shameful.
rex_dart 20th-May-2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Pretty gross comment to make about a man who was probably innocent and certainly never received a fair trial.
bestdaywelived 20th-May-2012 04:49 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I have not heard about his probable innocence until right now. Everything else I have read was about how he was celebrated coming home, and how he only spent 8 years in prison for the atrocious crime.

If he's innocent, then I would regret what I said. If he's not, he murdered almost 300 people.
rex_dart 20th-May-2012 05:01 pm (UTC)
This article talks about his probable innocence according to the father of one of the victims, and it's not uncommon knowledge. Even his wiki article talks about the falsified evidence, discredited witnesses, etc.

It's not much better to say you're glad a man is dead, but if he was innocent as he likely was, oops, on some cosmic level you take it back.
stevie_jane 21st-May-2012 12:06 am (UTC)
Urgh, William Hague, you're a cretin. Megrahi shouldn't have been convincted in the first place.
mrasaki 21st-May-2012 09:33 pm (UTC)
I abhor his actions and his receiving a hero's welcome (but I suppose you can't control the reaction of his countrypeople) but the compassionate release was one thing I've never been doubt was, and is, always a good thing.
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