The man convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over
Lockerbie, Scotland, could be released from prison next week on
compassionate grounds, according to British television. The reports of
a release have prompted mixed reactions from families of the victims.
intelligence agent Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is serving a life sentence
in a prison in Scotland. But, news reports in Britain say he could be
released as early as next week.
Megrahi is dying of prostate
cancer and his condition is reported to have worsened. Reports say his
early release could be granted on humanitarian grounds to allow him to
spend his remaining days with family back in Libya.
been no official confirmation of such a move, but Scottish Justice
Secretary Kenny MacAskill says he is considering the issue.
have made no decision," said MacAskill. "Clearly I have been listening
to representations from the Americans and from the families [of the
victims]. I now have to reflect. I am conscious I have to do so as
speedily as possible. Clearly, he is terminally ill and there are
other factors. But, I have made no decision yet."
A bomb aboard
Pan Am Flight 103 brought down the passenger jet in December 1988 over
the town of Lockerbie. All 259 people on board were killed along with
11 on the ground. Most of the victims were Americans.
Reports of Megrahi's possible release have prompted mixed reactions from family members of some of the victims.
Speaking on British television, Kathleen Flynn said Megrahi's release would not be right.
"You do not allow someone who has murdered, premeditated murder of 270 innocent people, and let him walk away," she said.
speaking for some of the British victims' families, Jim Swire, takes a
different view. "It is easy for me because I do not believe he's
guilty. I think he should never have been found guilty," he said.
Libyans were indicted for the attack, but only Megrahi was convicted
under Scottish law at a trial in the Netherlands. Many of the families
of Britons killed in the bombing have said they do not think the
evidence against Megrahi was conclusive.
He began his prison term in 2002. He has maintained his innocence and has twice appealed his sentence.
years after his conviction, the Libyan government officially
acknowledged responsibility and agreed to pay $2.7 billion in
compensation to the victims' families. That paved the way for the
lifting of Western sanctions against Libya and normalization of