Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Lockerbie Convict Released

Scottish authorities said they freed Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only person convicted in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, out of compassion for the Libyan man, who had been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. A Scottish judge noted that al-Megrahi, who claims he is innocent, was going home to Libya "to die." But where, the families of the victims wondered, was the compassion for their loved ones who perished in the explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland? Upon his return to Tripoli, al-Megrahi was greeted like a hero, further enraging victims' relatives. The U.S. government said it "deeply" regretted Scotland's decision. Anger grew as people learned that Scotland's keeping oil ties with Libya had allegedly factored into the ruling. When Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi landed in New York City for the U.N. General Assembly meeting in September, several municipalities rejected his request to pitch his bedouin tent, which he uses to entertain guests while traveling, in their towns. And in November, three months after al-Megrahi's release, New York Senator Chuck Schumer called for Gaddafi to be returned to a Scottish jail because he had not yet died from cancer.