TRIPOLI, Libya – Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer who was theonly person ever convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, died athome in Tripoli Sunday, nearly three years after he was releasedfrom a Scottish prison to the outrage of the relatives of theattack's 270 victims. He was 60. Scotland released al-Megrahi on Aug. 20, 2009, on compassionategrounds to let him return home to die after he was diagnosed withprostate cancer. |
At the time, doctors predicted he had only threemonths to live. Anger over the release was further stoked by the hero's welcome hereceived on his arrival in Libya -- and by subsequent allegationsthat London had sought his release to preserve business interestsin the oil-rich North African nation, strongly denied by theBritish and Scottish governments. Al-Megrahi insisted he was innocent, but he kept a strict silenceafter his release, living in the family villa surrounded by highwalls in a posh Tripoli neighborhood, mostly bedridden or taking afew steps with a cane. Libyan authorities sealed him off frompublic access.
When the one-year anniversary of his release passed,some who visited him said al-Megrahi bitterly mused that the worldwas rooting for him to die. His son, Khaled al-Megrahi, confirmed that he died in Tripoli in atelephone interview but hung up before giving more details. Saad Nasser al-Megrahi, a relative and a member of the rulingNational Transitional Council, said al-Megrahi's health hadseriously deteriorated in recent days and he died of cancer-relatedcomplications. Al-Megrahi passed away at his Tripoli home on Sunday morning,according to another NTC member, Moussa al-Kouni. To the end, al-Megrahi insisted he had nothing to do with thebombing, which killed 270 people, most of them Americans.
"I am an innocent man," al-Megrahi said in his last interview,published in several British papers in December. "I am about to dieand I ask now to be left in peace with my family." In New York City, the father of one of the Lockerbie victims saidal-Megrahi's death was "to a degree a relief" and insisted that his2009 release from jail was a political deal. "If he had been that bad three years ago, he wouldn't have livedthis long. It was a political deal," said Glenn Johnson ofGreensburg, Pa, whose 21-year-old daughter Beth Ann Johnson waskilled in the bombing.
Al-Megrahi's death, which came seven months after ousted leaderMuammar Qaddafi was killed, leaves many unanswered questions thathave surrounded the Lockerbie case, despite the conviction. The U.S., Britain, and prosecutors in his trial contended that hedid not act alone and carried out the bombing at the behest ofLibyan intelligence. After Qaddafi's fall, Britain asked Libya'snew rulers to help fully investigate but they put off any probe. They also rejected Western pressure to jail or return al-Megrahi.
"He is between life and death, so what difference would prisonmake?" his brother, Abdel-Nasser al-Megrahi, said at the time. Little was known about al-Megrahi. At his trial, he was describedas the "airport security" chief for Libyan intelligence, andwitnesses reported him negotiating deals to buy equipment forLibya's secret service and military. But he became a central figure in both Libya's falling out with theWest and then its re-emergence from the cold. To Libyans, he was a folk hero, an innocent scapegoat used by theWest to turn their country into a pariah.
The regime presented hishandover to Scotland in 1999 as a necessary sacrifice to restoreLibya's relations with the world. In the months ahead of his release, Tripoli put enormous pressureon Britain, warning that if the ailing al-Megrahi died in aScottish prison, all British commercial activity in Libya would becut off and a wave of demonstrations would erupt outside Britishembassies, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic memos. The Libyanseven implied "that the welfare of U.K.
diplomats and citizens inLibya would be at risk," the memos say. But in the eyes of many Americans and Europeans, he was thefoot-soldier carrying out orders from Qaddafi's regime. Tony Blair,Britain's prime minister at the time of the conviction, said theverdict "confirms our long-standing suspicion that Libya instigatedthe Lockerbie bombing." The bombing that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988, overLockerbie, Scotland was one of the deadliest terror attacks inmodern history. The flight was heading to New York from London'sHeathrow airport and many of the victims were American collegestudents flying home to for Christmas.
Qaddafi handed over al-Megrahi and a second suspect to Scottishauthorities after years of punishing U.N. sanctions. Four yearslater, in 2003, Qaddafi acknowledged responsibility -- though notguilt -- for the Lockerbie bombing and paid compensation of about$2.7 billion to the Lockerbie victims' families. He also pledged todismantle all weapons of mass destruction and joined the U.S.-ledwar on terror.
The regime maintained it handed al-Megrahi over and paidcompensation only to win the lifting of sanctions. The steps wonQaddafi quick rewards, with Western powers resuming diplomaticcontacts and signing lucrative business deals. In 2001, a Scottish court -- set up in the neutral ground of amilitary base in the Netherlands -- convicted al-Megrahi ofplanting the bomb but acquitted his co-defendant, Lamen KhalifaFhimah, a Libyan Arab Airlines official, of all charges. El-Megrahiended up serving eight years of a life sentence.
The prosecution's case was built around a tiny fragment of circuitboard discovered among the airline wreckage that investigatorsdetermined was part of the timer of the bomb, hidden in a suitcase.Investigators said the suitcase was loaded onto a flight fromMalta, booked through to Pan Am 103 via Frankfurt. An executive from a Swiss company testified that he had sold timersof the same make to Libya. Investigators found that al-Megrahitraveled to Malta on a false passport a day before the suitcase waschecked in and left the following day. Key to convicting al-Megrahi was the testimony of a Maltashopkeeper who identified him as having bought a man's shirt in hisstore. Scraps of the garment were found wrapped around the timingdevice.
However, a Scottish judicial body that carried out a major reviewof the evidence cast doubt on the shopowner's ID of al-Megrahi andsaid there was evidence the shirt was purchased on a day whenal-Megrahi was not in Malta. Al-Megrahi's lawyers also claimed that British and U.S. authoritiestampered with evidence, disregarded witness statements and steeredinvestigators away from suggestions the bombing was anIranian-financed plot carried out by Palestinians to avenge theshooting down of a civilian Iranian airliner by a U.S. warship --in which some 290 people were killed -- several months before theLockerbie bombing.
The judicial body, however, discounted theoriesof intentional misdirection. Al-Megrahi had appealed his conviction, but had to drop the appealto be eligible for compassionate release. "I say in the clearest possible terms, which I hope every person inevery land will hear -- all of this I have had to endure forsomething that I did not do," al-Megrahi said in a statement afterhis release. "I had most to gain and nothing to lose about the whole truthcoming out -- until my diagnosis of cancer," he said.
"To thosevictims' relatives who can bear to hear me say this, they continueto have my sincere sympathy for the unimaginable loss that theyhave suffered." Some of the victims' families in Britain are also not convinced ofal-Megrahi's guilt. "By abandoning his appeal, we the families will be robbed of theopportunity to find justice," the Rev. John Mosey, whose daughterHelga died aboard Flight 103, said in 2009. "I came away from the court 85 percent convinced he did not do it,based on the evidence I heard," said Mosey, who is from Cumbria,England, and attended all but one week of al-Megrahi's nine-monthtrial.
In announcing al-Megrahi's release from prison, Scottish JusticeSecretary Kenny MacAskill said he was motivated by Scottish valuesto show mercy even though al-Megrahi had not shown compassion tohis victims. "Some hurts can never heal, some scars can never fade," MacAskillsaid. "Mr. al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higherpower." Al-Megrahi is survived by his wife, Aisha, and five children.
I am an expert from ledtubelightbulbs.com, while we provides the quality product, such as China E27 Led Light Bulbs , PL Light Fitting, Led Tube Light Bulbs,and more.
Related Articles -
China E27 Led Light Bulbs, PL Light Fitting,