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Lockerbie Bomber Drops Appeal


Lawyers for the Libyan man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing say he has applied to drop his appeal against his conviction, following reports he is to be freed on compassionate grounds.

The lawyers said Friday Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi applied two days ago. The high court in Scotland is scheduled to consider the request Tuesday.

Megrahi, who is terminally ill with prostate cancer, would need to drop his appeal to be considered for repatriation under British-Libyan prisoner transfer agreements. But Scottish authorities say they are considering an early release for Megrahi based on his illness.

He is serving a life sentence for his role in the mid-air bombing of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988. The bombing killed 270 people.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman said the United States believes Megrahi should spend the rest of his time in prison.

Libya ended decades of international isolation in 2003 when it agreed to pay compensation. Last year, it paid $1.5 billion into a compensation fund for claims related to Libyan terrorist attacks. Those attacks include the Lockerbie bombing.

Among members of victims' families, some say releasing him would allow a murderer just to walk away, while others voiced doubts about the validity of his conviction and support his possible release.

Megrahi has always maintained his innocence and has twice appealed his sentence.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill met with Megrahi earlier this month in a Scottish prison. Libya has appealed on humanitarian grounds to the Scottish government to let him serve the rest of his sentence there.

The Scottish minister also met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the families of U.S. victims of the bombing.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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