al megrahi, megrahi, lockerbie, lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi
Press Association/AP
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi boards a plane at Glasgow Airport, bound for Tripoli, after
being released on compassionate grounds by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

Lockerbie Convict Freed From Jail

August 20, 2009 11:55 AM
by Liz Colville
In the midst of a long-running debate over whether Megrahi, who is dying of prostate cancer, is even responsible for the bombing that killed 270, he has been freed on compassionate grounds.

Megrahi Returning to Libya

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, a 57-year-old native of Libya, is returning home today after the Scottish government decided to release the convicted bomber of Pan Am Flight 103 on compassionate grounds.

Megrahi is the only person to be convicted of the 1988 bombing, in which a passenger jet exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 passengers and crew members and 11 people on the ground.

Despite some public protests—and pressure from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to keep Megrahi in jail—the Scottish justice secretary, Kenny McAskill, announced Thursday that Megrahi would be freed "on the basis of medical evidence suggesting that he had only three months to live," The Guardian reported.

The victims' families can "not be expected to forget, let alone forgive," McAskill told the press in defending the decision. "Their pain runs deep and the wounds remain, however Mr al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power ... it's terminal, irrevocable and final—he's going to die."

But the U.S. State Department announced that it was "deeply disappointed" about the decision, The Times of London reported.

Megrahi is married and has four children. His mother, who is 95, has been in contact with him and expects to see him "by Ramadan," The Tripoli Post reported. She has not been informed of his illness.

Next: Many Questions Remain Unanswered in Lockerbie Case

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