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Thursday, 13 August 2009

Lockerbie Bomber Set to Be Freed

From The Daily Mail:

American relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims were today shocked by reports that the man found guilty of Britain's worst terrorist atrocity is to be released.

The Scottish government plans to allow Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who has terminal cancer, to return to Libya on compassionate grounds next week.

In 2001 he was sentenced to 27 years for planting a bomb on a Pan Am jet that exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people.

Susan Cohen, whose daughter Theodora, 20, was on board, said: "Any letting out of Megrahi would be a disgrace."

She added: 'I'm not surprised because there's been every attempt to get Gaddafi everything he wants.

'If the Scots do this, they should be ashamed of themselves. The man is a mass murderer and he would be given a sympathy he did not afford his victims.'

Some 270 people died when Pan Am flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie in December 1988.

Megrahi was convicted of the atrocity in 2001. He has always maintained his innocence and is currently bringing a second appeal against his conviction.

The Scottish Executive last night denied a report on BBC2's Newsnight programme that there had been a decision to free him, describing it as 'speculation'.

A spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond said: 'No decision has been taken, either on the application for compassionate release or the application under the prisoner transfer agreement.'

Gordon Brown and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi discussed Megrahi in a one-to-one talks on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Italy last month.

The aftermath: Rescue workers examine the nose of <span class=

The aftermath: Rescue workers examine the nose of PanAm flight 103 near the town of Lockerbie

Colonel Gaddafi asked Mr Brown to help let Megrahi serve the rest of his sentence in Libya.

Earlier this month Scots Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill met Megrahi in prison, a move seen as paving the way for him to return to Libya. Megrahi is said to have pleaded to be allowed to die in his homeland.

Mr MacAskill has the final say over whether he should be released or transferred and is expected to announce his decision this month.

He cannot grant a transfer while Megrahi's appeal is going through the courts, but if the Libyan was freed on compassionate grounds there would be no need for him to drop his appeal.

Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Robert Brown said: 'If this decision is confirmed then it is wrong in principle, wrong in practice and sets the wrong precedent.

'This is a man who was convicted in a Scottish court under the eyes of the world of the worst atrocity in Scotland in modern times.'

But freedom for Megrahi was backed by Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was also killed. He has long maintained Megrahi's innocence and appealed for him to be returned to Libya.

Dr Swire said: 'I don't believe he was involved in this terrible crime.

A fragment of the cockpit of the Pan Am Boeing 747 lies outside the village of <span class=

A fragment of the cockpit of the Pan Am Boeing 747 lies outside the village of Lockerbie in December 1988

'My view is that the sooner he goes home to his family the better and the better for the reputation of Scotland as well.

'If he dies in a Scottish prison and he's subsequently proven not to be guilty, it's going to look terrible.'

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said: 'Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is considering all the representations and hopes to make a decision this month.'

I know that many believe this man is simply a scapegoat for the real Libyan terrorists, who may have been backed by either Syria or Iran, but why should he go free?

He was convicted under Scottish law for a wicked atrocity in which 270 people died, and he should die in prison - or confess who the real culprits are.

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