Published On: Mon, May 21st, 2012

Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, dies of cancer

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Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who was released from prison in Scotland in 2009 on compassionate grounds, dies of cancer.

Eleven years after being convicted of planting a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi has died in the Libyan city of Tripoli, his brother has said.

Megrahi was found guilty of killing all 259 people on board the flight, along with 11 other victims on the ground, by a special court set up in The Netherlands in 2001.

He served eight years of a 27-year-prison sentence, but was released on compassionate grounds in 2009, and allowed to return to Libya after doctors said that he had terminal cancer and only, at the time, three months left to live.

During the Libyan revolution in 2011, his brother Abdel Nasser told reporters outside the family home in a residential district of Tripoli that Megrahi was “in and out of a coma”.

Amid the lack of law and order after the revolt which brought armed fighters onto the streets, his family claimed that his medicine had been looted and there was a dearth of available doctors.

The fact that he survived so long after his release from prison in the UK provoked indignation in Britain and the United States, where most of the victims were from.

Susan Cohen, whose daughter Theodora died on board Flight 103, told the Press Association she hoped Megrahi died “a painful, horrible death”.

“He died with his family around him,” said the 74-year-old from New Jersey. “My daughter died a horrible death when she was 20 years old with her full life ahead of her. You call that justice?

“I feel no pity for Megrahi, I believe he should have died a lot sooner. He should have been tried in the States and given the death penalty. Watching him be released from prison was very painful for me.”

On the second anniversary of the release of the former Libyan intelligence agent, who always maintained his innocence, the Scottish government insisted its decision to free him had been vindicated.

But David Cameron, the British prime minister, criticised the release as a “terrible mistake”.

“I’ve always been clear he should never have been released from prison,” Cameron said on Sunday. “Today is a day to remember the 270 people who lost their lives in what was an appalling terrorist act. Our thoughts should be with them and their families for the suffering they’ve had.”

Magrahi insisted he was an airline executive, while prosecutors at his trial described him as a Libyan intelligence officer, which the court accepted.

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