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Posted by on May 20, 2012 in International, Law, War | 7 comments

Convicted Lockerbie Bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrah Dies of Cancer in Freedom in Libya

The day many families of the 270 victims killed in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing has been waiting for has arrived: if will never be closure for those who look at photos of the innocent men, women and kids murdered in a political lives that cost lives and forever changed others — but it is the closing of a chapter. Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted in the Lockerbie bombing is dead of cancer in Libya, where he was released on humanitarian grounds in an act that drew howls of protest all over the world. The BBC:

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing above Scotland, which killed 270 people, has died at home in Libya, his brother has told news agencies.

Megrahi 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 returned to the Libyan capital, he received a hero’s welcome….

Shortly before being freed, Megrahi dropped his second appeal against his conviction…

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.

The UK’s Express reported today that Megrahi had become a virtual pariah in post-Gaddafi Libya:

THE Lockerbie bomber has become a “pariah” in Libya as the public and politicians turn against him as an “embarrassing” reminder of the crimes of Colonel Gaddafi.

Author Lindsey Hilsom, who spent decades reporting from the country as a foreign correspondent, said Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is “not very popular” with ordinary Libyans.

Even members of Megrahi’s tribe, the one-million strong Megraha, are said to have turned their backs on him and his links with the hated Muammar Gaddafi.

The dying former secret agent is also coming under increasing pressure from the new authorities to give evidence against more senior figures in the tyrant’s regime.

Gaddafi’s spy chief and Megrahi’s cousin Abdullah al-Senussi, who has been under arrest in Mauritania since March, is the number one target of the new Libyan government.

Reuters:

The Libyan terrorist survived for almost three years after a doctor said he had only months to live and he was released on “compassionate” grounds from a Scottish prison.

Britain freed him in 2009 on compassionate grounds because he was suffering from advanced terminal prostate cancer and thought to have months to live.

His release angered many relatives of the victims, 189 of whom were American, and the Obama administration criticised the decision. A number of US politicians have pressed for his extradition to the United States, something Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council said it would not do.

And, lest anyone forget whose lives he cut short — people who didn’t have the chance to have years of living and then dye of cancer — visit the memorial internet site for the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 HERE.

And visit the Pan Am site that lists the victims so they be remembered — including the crew who were victims, too.
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Then there’s this list, which has close to the top the names of some 10 years old were murdered in the sky.

The Daily Mail has this article on the victims.
Here’s the beginning of it:

Cradled in their mother’s arms, the two youngest victims of the Lockerbie bombing were probably sleeping peacefully as the catastrophic break-up of Pan Am Flight 103 began in the skies above Lockerbie.

As the excited chatter of passengers travelling home for Christmas died away, tiny Jonathan Thomas and Brittany Williams, both just two months old, would have been unaware of the tragedy befalling them.

The youngsters were among 14 babies and children travelling with their parents on the doomed New York-bound plane just before Christmas in 1988.

Whole families, who had barely settled into their seats for the long journey across the Atlantic, were wiped out as a bomb ripped the Boeing 747 apart.

The bodies of some victims were never found. On the other side of the Atlantic, parents, friends, and partners were preparing to leave for JFK airport in New York to pick up loved ones who would never arrive.

Among those never to return from an overseas study course in London were 35 students from Syracuse University in New York, including twin brothers Eric and Jason Coker, 20.

There were a total of 259 men, women and children on board Pan Am Flight 103, that fateful night including the crew of 16 headed by American pilot Captain James Bruce MacQuarrie, 55.

The passenger list included people from 21 nations – although the majority were Americans – and from all walks of life.

The youngest were the two two-month-old babies, while the eldest was 79-year-old retired doctor Ibolya Drucker, from Hungary.

There were hairdressers, lawyers, teachers, engineers and a financial consultant, while many passengers were serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Also among the travellers were two female playwrights, a professional golfer, four CIA officers, a diplomat, a Nazi-hunter named Michael Bernstein, and Bernt Wilmar Carlsson, who worked at the United Nations.

AND:

Pan Am Flight 103 exploded just after 7pm as, on the ground 31,000ft below, the quiet market town of Lockerbie was preparing for Christmas.

Many families had just finished their evening meal and were relaxing in front of the television, watching This Is Your Life, featuring Harry Corbett, of “Sooty” fame.

A total of 11 residents – seven females and four males ranging in age from 10 to 82 – died as wreckage from the devastated aircraft showered down on Lockerbie.

The plane’s fuel-laden wing section came down on the Sherwood area of the town, exploding in a fireball made worse by ruptured gas mains and leaving a massive crater in the ground.

This was the area where the 11 townsfolk, all from Sherwood Crescent, were killed. No trace was ever found of some of the victims.

Go to the link and read the article in its entirety.

Here’s the BBC news flash the night it happened:


The victims remembered at Arlington National Cemetery 23 years later:

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi had maintained his innocence to the last — even making his case from his deathbed.

CNN in the video report finds him in coma with his mother at his side which also suggests that he had been paid off for all the years he spent in jail.

More background from CNN:

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill ordered him freed on compassionate grounds in August 2009. MacAskill had authority over al Megrahi’s case because the convicted bomber was jailed in Scotland. Al Megrahi dropped his appeal when he was freed.

The release proved immediately controversial.

Some family members of Lockerbie victims complained that with the legal process ending when al Megrahi dropped his appeal, they would never know the full truth about the bombing.

The British press, meanwhile, alleged the release was tied to oil deals with Libya.

British and Scottish officials denied the claim, and released more than 100 pages of previously secret documents to make their case.

The papers included a handwritten letter from al Megrahi to MacAskill, pleading to be allowed to see his family before he died, and continuing to proclaim his innocence.

The documents also showed that senior Libyan officials warned their Scottish and British counterparts it would be “catastrophic” for British-Libyan relations if al Megrahi died in prison.

When Al Megrahi returned to Libya on August 20, he was accompanied by Gadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam.

The younger Gadhafi confirmed that Libya was “very angry” at British efforts to keep al Megrahi out of a separate prisoner transfer agreement, but said ultimately, the bomber was released for a different reason anyway.

It “was based on the compassionate grounds, not because of business deals,” he told CNN’s Nic Robertson in early September. “The guy is sick, seriously sick. He has cancer and because of that they made their decision and I think it was the right decision. Very simple.”