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May 23, 2012

Lockerbie convict Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi buried after dying at Libyan home

Lockerbie convict Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi buried after dying at Libyan home

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

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Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has been buried in the town of Janzur, west of the Libyan capital Tripoli. He was the only individual convicted in association with the Lockerbie bombing of 1988. He died at his residence Sunday, aged 60.

The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York resulted in 270 fatalities, including all 259 of the airplane’s occupants and eleven individuals on the ground. 189 of those who died in the incident were US citizens. The death toll for this terrorist incident is larger than that for any other which has occurred in the United Kingdom thus far.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was placed on trial in May 2000 in the Netherlands alongside Al Amin Khalifah Fhimah. While Fhimah was found not guilty on all charges placed against him, al-Megrahi was found guilty of his and sentenced to at least 27 years imprisonment. Having been initially placed in HM Prison Barlinnie, al-Megrahi was transferred to Greenock in 2005.

In 2002, an appeal against his conviction was unsuccessful. Five years later, senior judges in Scotland were to review his case, but he dropped the appeal. Due to suffering from prostate cancer, he was granted a compassionate release from Scottish prison two days later.

Current UK Prime Minister David Cameron commented on his belief that al-Megrahi “should never have been released from prison” and said his death was an occasion “to remember the 270 people who lost their lives in what was an appalling terrorist act”. According to Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, the investigation into the Lockerbie bombing is ongoing. Salmond also called for remembrance of those killed. Prosecutors, he said, had always thought there were others besides al-Megrahi involved in the attack.

US citizen Susan Cohen, the mother of one of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing, thought of al-Megrahi as “a mass murderer” who “deserved to die”, adding to CNN: “I feel no pity around him. He got to die with his family around him. My daughter [Theodora], at age 20, died a brutal, horrible death”. However, UK citizen Jim Swire, father of another victim of the bombing, believes al-Megrahi was not guilty. He described al-Megrahi’s death as “a sad time”, telling the BBC he was “satisfied for some years that this man was nothing to do with the murder of my daughter”.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has consistently denied responsibility for the attack. In his final recorded interview in December 2011, he insisted he was “an innocent man” who was “about to die and I ask now to be left in peace with my family.” His brother Mohammed al-Megrahi claimed “[t]here never was exact proof” and said al-Megrahi’s “pain is over now – he is with God”.

Animated reconstruction of Pan Am Flight 103 just before explosion Image: Anynobody.

Animated reconstruction of Pan Am Flight 103 just before explosion
Image: Anynobody.

Animated reconstruction of flight at time of explosion Image: Anynobody.

Animated reconstruction of flight at time of explosion
Image: Anynobody.

Animated reconstruction of plane disintegrating just after explosion Image: Anynobody.

Animated reconstruction of plane disintegrating just after explosion
Image: Anynobody.

Memorial at Dryfesdale Cemetery in Scotland Image: StaraBlazkova.

Memorial at Dryfesdale Cemetery in Scotland
Image: StaraBlazkova.

Memorial at Syracuse University, Syracuse, in the US state of New YorkImage: Newkai.

Memorial at Syracuse University, Syracuse, in the US state of New York
Image: Newkai.



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August 20, 2009

Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi released on compassionate grounds

Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi released on compassionate grounds

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

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Memorial of Pan Am Flight 103, at Dryfesdale Cemetery
Image: StaraBlazkova.

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the only individual convicted in connection with the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, has been released by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, on compassionate grounds.

Megrahi is suffering from terminal prostate cancer and will be allowed to return to his home country of Libya.

270 people were killed when, on December 21, 1988, the Pan-Am flight from London’s Heathrow Airport to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport was destroyed by a bomb whilst in flight over southern Scotland.

A police convoy escorted Megrahi from his former prison home in HMP Greenock to Glasgow Airport, where he boarded an Afriqiyah Airways flight to Tripoli. He was told he could not remain in Scotland on security grounds.

In announcing the release on compassionate grounds, Justice Secretary MacAskill stated, “Al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one that no court in any jurisdiction could revoke or overrule. It is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die”.

Cquote1.svg The UK families are united in believing that the full independent enquiry for which we have been asking since 1989 should now take place Cquote2.svg

—Jean Berkley, UK Families Flight 103

The conviction remains controversial. Last year then-president of US group Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 told Wikinews that the vast majority were satisfied in Megrahi’s guilt. UK Families Flight 103 painted a very different picture to Wikinews of the opinions in Britain: “UK Families have different views about Megrahi’s guilt or innocence. Certainly some, including my husband and I, believe that we are not in a position to make a judgment about whether he was involved in some way or not,” said group coordinator Jean Berkley, whose son was killed. “Much of the evidence at the trial was circumstantial and confusing and it is a fact that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, after considering the matter for three years, came to the conclusion that there were grounds for appeal. The UK families are united in believing that the full independent inquiry for which we have been asking since 1989 should now take place, to deal with the many unanswered questions and enable the evidence which would have emerged from the now abandoned appeal to be made public.” This is in sharp contrast to The Daily Telegraph, which earlier reported that the majority of British families felt Megrahi was innocent.

The United States government had been strongly opposed to any possible release. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had previously called the possibility “absolutely wrong”. MacAskill sought to justify the decision by commenting that “Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs th[at] we seek to live by, remaining true to our values as a people – no matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated.”

Megrahi issued a statement shortly before leaving HMP Greenock in which he maintained his innocence. “The remaining days of my life are being lived under the shadow of the wrongness of my conviction. I have been faced with an appalling choice: to risk dying in prison in the hope that my name is cleared posthumously or to return home still carrying the weight of the guilty verdict, which will never now be lifted. The choice which I made is a matter of sorrow, disappointment and anger, which I fear I will never overcome,” said Megrahi.

Cquote1.svg I want him returned from Scotland the same way my wife Lorraine was and that would be in a box Cquote2.svg

—US victim

Robert Gibbs, press secretary for the White House, said “The United States deeply regrets the decision by the Scottish Executive to release Abdel Basset Mohamed al-Megrahi. As we have expressed repeatedly to officials of the government of the United Kingdom and to Scottish authorities, we continue to believe that Megrahi should serve out his sentence in Scotland.” Many US victims have also reacted with anger.

Many US victims’ families have reacted with anger. One relative commented that “This might sound crude or blunt, but I want him returned from Scotland the same way my wife Lorraine was and that would be in a box.” Dr. Jim Swire, a UK victim, disagreed, saying Megrahi had “nothing to do with” the disaster and calling the earlier dropping of the appeal “a blow to those of us who seek the truth.”

Megrahi’s plane was greeted by crowds in Tripoli waving both Libyan and Scottish flags. Seif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, held his hand as he exited the aircraft amid heavy security. Loudspeakers broadcast patriotic music and it is reported that celebrations are ongoing in Tripoli.



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August 18, 2009

Lockerbie bombing appeal dropped

Lockerbie bombing appeal dropped – Wikinews, the free news source

Lockerbie bombing appeal dropped

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Lockerbie memorial

The High Court in Edinburgh has today accepted Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi‘s request to drop his second appeal against his conviction for the Lockerbie bombing. Al-Megrahi was found guilty of planting a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103, which detonated as the aircraft flew over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 killing all 259 people on board and eleven more on the ground.

Megrahi has always protested his innocence. Although his appeal was dismissed in 2002, a review found evidence of a possible miscarriage of justice and granted Megrahi a second appeal. He is terminally ill with prostate cancer and may soon be released on compassionate grounds. Today’s hearing was attended by the Reverend John Mosey, whose daughter was killed and who believes in Megrahi’s innocence.

The conviction remains controversial, with the majority of victims’ families in the UK feeling Megrahi is innocent while those in the US believe him to be guilty according to the Daily Telegraph. Doctor Jim Swire, a member of UK Families Flight 103, has threatened to sue the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service over what he feels is a deliberate blocking of justice. Meanwhile, in an earlier interview with Wikinews on the twentieth anniversary of the bombing last year, the then-head of the US group Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Kara Weipz, told Wikinews that “There is no difference between the truth as we see it and the official version of events. The facts are the facts, Mr. Megrahi is guilty.”

Wikinews has obtained a statement from Mrs. Weipz’s replacement Frank Duggan. In it Duggan maintains that Megrahi should die behind bars in Scotland, casts doubt on the likelihood of a transfer to Libya and attacks the Scottish media’s coverage of the case. Dr. Swire has also been contacted with a request to comment.

“The murderer appealed again, and now seeks, without apparent reason, to withdraw that appeal. The court had little discretion, and absent some grandstanding from the bomber’s attorneys, it is certainly not what the Scottish media is making it out to be. It is NOT the key to Mr. Megrahi’s release pursuant to the Prisoner Transfer Agreement, since Article 5 of that agreement states that there cannot be any pending legal action against him. There is, as everyone should know, another appeal pending, which was originally filed before Megrahahi’s, objecting to the lenience of the sentence for the murder of 270 innocent souls. In addition, Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill must still rule on the request for transfer, a request made by [Libyan President] Muammar Gadhafi, who has admitted his nation’s guilt in the most egregious case of state-sponsored terrorism in UK history. It is simply inconceivable to us that the Scottish government would respect the wishes of this man.

“The American victim’s families cannot understand why Megrahi would withdraw his appeal, unless his attorneys thought that they were not persuading Minister MacAskill that the bomber was indeed on his deathbed. That is a more likely scenario since they had been saying he had one foot in the grave for the past year. If the rumors of his impending release, fueled by the Herald, Guardian, Scotsman and other “newspapers” were meant to test public opinion about his release, either by Prisoner Transfer or Compassionate Release, then the trial balloon was successful. There has been worldwide outrage and opprobrium that this man might get to go home to a hero’s welcome in Libya.

“The only other reason we can imagine is that his attorneys were not aware of the other pending appeal, and are perhaps taking advice from that legal scholar, Prof. Robert Black, who still maintains that there was insufficient evidence in the first trial and appeal. Black has been wrong about every step of this case from the beginning, yet he and Dr. James Swire are given full opportunity to express their views of the evidence in the UK “newspapers.”

“The convicted bomber should not be transferred under any subsequent agreement since the arrangements for the trial in the Netherlands promised that if convicted, the defendant would serve his prison term in Scotland. As to the application for release on compassionate grounds, this has caused the most uproar around the world. News media, not so many in Scotland I regret to say, wonder just how much compassion was shown by Megrahi and Libya when they planted a bomb designed to murder hundreds of innocent, unsuspecting lives.”

Megrahi is now set to complete his sentence in HMP Greenock, where he is to serve a minimum of 27 years, barring any further developments.

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August 15, 2009

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi moves to drop Lockerbie bombing appeal

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi moves to drop Lockerbie bombing appeal

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Lockerbie memorial

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was revealed today to have requested his second appeal to be dropped. Al-Megrahi was convicted of planting a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103, which detonated as the aircraft flew over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 killing all 259 people on board and eleven more on the ground.

Megrahi had been offered transfer to his home of Libya if he dropped the appeal, but had previously stated he would not return unless his conviction was overturned. He has terminal prostate cancer and it is thought that he is due to be released shortly on compassionate grounds, having served eight years of his minimum term of 27 years in Greenock prison.

Megrahi lost his first appeal in 2002, but a review found that there was reason to believe there may have been a miscarriage of justice. The decision to drop his second appeal comes as a surprise, with some victims’ relatives expecting the proceedings to continue even after his death. A court hearing to consider the request is due on Tuesday.

Opinions about the conviction are split, with the families of most British victims considering the man to be innocent while those in the United States are satisfied with his guilt. Briton Martin Cadman, whose son Bill was among the dead, told The Daily Telegraph “It’s been nearly 21 years since the event and where are we? Nowhere.” Last year, on the twentieth anniversary of the disaster the head of the US group Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Kara Weipz, told Wikinews that “There is no difference between the truth as we see it and the official version of events. The facts are the facts, Mr. Megrahi is guilty.”



Related news

  • “20 years on: Lockerbie victims’ group head talks to Wikinews” — Wikinews, December 21, 2008
  • “Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to review Pan Am Flight 103 conviction” — Wikinews, June 25, 2007

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November 15, 2008

Scotland denies bail to terminally ill man convicted of Lockerbie bombing

Scotland denies bail to terminally ill man convicted of Lockerbie bombing

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lockerbie air disaster memorial

Scotland has refused bail to the Libyan man convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 despite his terminal cancer, as he can receive treatment in prison. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi was jailed in 2001 for the 1988 bombing of the transatlantic airliner, killing 270 people, but is seeking to have his conviction overturned.

Minutes after Edinburgh’s Appeals Court rejected bail on compassionate grounds Jim Swire, spokesman for the victim’s families who lost his daughter in the disaster, complained about the ruling. “It has never been a goal of our group to seek revenge,” said a lawyer outside the court reading from his statement. “The refusal of a return to his family for a dying man whose verdict is not even yet secure looks uncomfortably like either an aspect of revenge — or perhaps timidity.”

Al-Megrahi, a former intelligence officer, is 54 and serving a minimum of 27 years for the bombing. He has advanced prostate cancer which is spreading through his body. His request for bail was rejected by Lord Hamilton, Scotland’s head judge, who said that as doctors say he could live a few more years he should not be released unless and until after his appeal succeeds or his condition worsens.

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Some other doctors give his time as just months, as the cancer has reached his bones. Hamilton however said that palliative hormone treatment could prolong his life. Hamilton also said Al-Megrahi was not suffering “material pain or disability”.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission ruled last year that the conviction may be a miscarriage of justice. It said there was significant doubts to be raised over several key pieces of evidence in the original trial.

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  • “Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to review Pan Am Flight 103 conviction” — Wikinews, June 27, 2007

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June 25, 2007

Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to review Pan Am Flight 103 conviction

Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to review Pan Am Flight 103 conviction

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Lockerbie air disaster memorial

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), an organisation that investigates alleged miscarriages of justice, is to complete a review on June 28, 2007 of the conviction on January 31, 2001 of Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi for the December 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. All 259 passengers and crew of the Boeing 747, and eleven people on the ground, were killed when a bomb destroyed the aircraft over the town of Lockerbie in Scotland. Megrahi was convicted on 270 counts of murder, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. It is expected that the SCCRC will refer Megrahi’s case back to the court of appeal. A summary of the Commission’s findings will be published, but the main report will not.

Today’s Scotsman reported that documents leaked from Megrahi’s legal team include allegations that evidence used to convict him ‘was subject to deliberate destruction and manipulation for political reasons’. Officials in both the United States and the United Kingdom are accused of “a co-ordinated effort to mislead the court” in order to divert attention from other suspects with links to Iran or Syria, whose support was needed at the time of the first Gulf War.

During its three-year review, the SCCRC has been shown hundreds of documents and photographs which are alleged to show that evidence was invented, manipulated or ignored by the British police on the one hand and the CIA and FBI on the other. Veteran politician Tam Dalyell, who has campaigned against the conviction for years, has now said that the full report by the SCCRC should be made public, adding “The Crown Office has a moral obligation to hold a public inquiry. If it embarrasses the Scottish judiciary, so be it. We’re in danger of becoming the laughing stock of Europe.” He also said “I have no doubt that evidence was planted, and I have said so repeatedly in the Commons. Only a full, public and nonadversarial inquiry can finally settle this matter.” Meanwhile, defence lawyers said that if Megrahi is granted an appeal or retrial they will attempt to convince authorities to release him until the case comes to court.

The credibility of several key parts of the prosecution’s case is seriously questioned in the evidence submitted to the SCCRC, with rescue workers describing items as intact when they were discovered, but which were presented in fragmentary form at the Lockerbie bombing trial. The evidence of Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci is also challenged. Although Gauci testified that Megrahi bought clothes from him that were later found to have been in the suitcase containing the bomb, in reality he apparently gave a number of inconsistent and substantially different accounts of who bought the clothes, failed to pick out Megrahi at an identity parade, and even linked the clothes’ purchase to convicted Egyptian terrorist Mohammed Abu Talb, from the Iran-backed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Defence lawyers also alleged that two early statements by Gauci are missing altogether.

One investigator also claims that evidence was fabricated, while there was insufficient investigation into claims by a baggage handler at Heathrow International Airport that the suitcase containing the bomb was only added to the flight at the last minute.

The SCCRC refused to comment, saying: “It is not for Scottish ministers to comment or preempt the outcome of this review.” Further it said: “It is the strong view of the Scottish Government that due process of law will be followed and seen to be followed in all matters pertaining to this case.”

The SCCRC will issue it’s report on Thursday June 28, 2007.

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