Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi dies in Tripoli
Published: 20th May 2012 15:21:58
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.
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.
There are just over a dozen cars lining up the street outside Megrahi's house, on the outskirts of central Tripoli.
Chairs are being put up - presumably for guests who will be paying their condolences, although it is still very quiet here.
I spoke earlier today to Megrahi's brother, who said he wished his brother had lived to see the day when his innocence was proven.
Megrahi - and his family - had long maintained that he was not responsible for the Lockerbie bombing.
During Col Gaddafi's rule, many Libyans maintained that Megrahi was innocent whatever the court decided.
I have spoken to a number of Libyans since Col Gaddafi was ousted last year who believe that Megrahi was guilty.
But you still find that many Libyans say that Megrahi did not directly participate in the bombing, that he was used as a scapegoat by the former regime.
So there are mixed views in Libya on this matter.
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.
Megrahi's sister told the Libyan Wal news agency that his funeral would take place at Tripoli's main cemetery on Monday, following early afternoon prayers.
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. Fhimah 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.
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.
What is your reaction to the death of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi? You can send us your views and experiences using the form below.
If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.
Terms and conditions
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi dies in Tripoli. [Online] (Updated 20 May 2012)
Available at: http://www.glasgowwired.co.uk/news.php/1429745-Lockerbie-bomber-Abdelbaset-al-Megrahi-dies-in-Tripoli [Accessed 18th June 2013]
At 11:11:18 in OtherGlasgow's new £125m Hydro arena is still scheduled to open at the end of September despite a fire in the roof just over a week ago, ope...
At 09:53:26 in OtherA man has been arrested over the alleged attempted murder of a 30-year-old man in Wishaw in North Lanarkshire....
At 09:40:47 in OtherScotland's Finance Secretary John Swinney is set to tell a gathering in Glasgow that Scottish pensions would be fully protected after i...
At 07:15:02 in OtherPomp and ceremony, polished limos and motor cavalcades. The waiting was over, eight of the world's most powerful people arrived in Ferm...
At 18:52:56 in OtherA Glasgow hospital has shut one of its wards to new admissions after an outbreak of streptococcal infection....
At 17:24:23 in OtherOne of two men accused of murdering three people in a Helensburgh house fire denied responsibility while being arrested, court has heard....
At 17:16:07 in OtherScottish-based whisky and rum distiller Edrington is to open new sales offices covering the US, Middle East and south east Asia....
At 16:53:32 in OtherA former Santander bank manager has been jailed for stealing £6,000 from a branch in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire....
At 16:42:09 in OtherA 36-year-old man has admitted stabbing his niece's partner following a row over what football team the victim's toddler son shoul...
At 15:56:38 in OtherA man has been convicted of assaulting and raping two women during an eight-year-period of abuse....
News In Other Categories
The rate of consumer price index (CPI) inflation increased to 2.7% in May, up from 2.4% in April, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) s...
Museums in three northern cities which faced uncertain futures are "safe" from closure, the culture minister has said....
A number of homes have been evacuated due to a security alert in Strabane, County Tyrone....
The King of Jordan has endorsed a treaty with the UK, paving the way for the extradition of radical cleric Abu Qatada....
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol ba...
Former UBS and Citigroup trader Tom Hayes has been charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in connection with its investigation into the m...