Lockerbie Bomber Released
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|Sat, 08-22-2009 - 8:48am|
Lockerbie Bombing Suspect Released and Controversy Grows (UPDATED)
The only convicted bomber in the December 1988 Lockerbie bombing which snuffed out the lives of 243 passengers and 16 crew â€” and killed 11 people on the ground â€” has been released in Scotland on compassionate grounds since he is terminally ill.
The bombing was a massive tragedy and a harbinger of the new Age of the Terrorist that was to come â€” and there are already signs that the release will be highly controversial. CNN:
The only man convicted over the Lockerbie bombing is to be released and allowed to return to Libya on compassionate grounds because he is terminally ill, Scotlandâ€™s justice minister said Thursday.
Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi 57 was serving a life sentence for bombing Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, resulting in the deaths of 270 people.
The White House, which has urged Britain to keep al Megrahi behind bars, said it â€œdeeply regretsâ€ the decision.
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill told a news conference in Edinburgh the prisoner was â€œgoing home to dieâ€ and would be released within an hour of the announcement shortly after 1200 GMT (8 a.m. ET).
â€œOur justice system demands that judgment be imposed but compassion available,â€ MacAskill said. â€œOur beliefs dictate that justice be served but mercy be shown.â€
According to CNN, the famliy members are divided over whether he should be released or not. Some have backed his release; others are enraged over it.
Martin Frostâ€™s website puts the horror of the bombing into focus:
Pan Am Flight 103 was Pan American World Airwaysâ€™ third daily scheduled transatlantic flight from Londonâ€™s Heathrow International Airport to New Yorkâ€™s John F. Kennedy International Airport. On December 21, 1988, the aircraft flying this route, a Boeing 747-100 registered N739PA and named â€œClipper Maid of the Seasâ€, was blown up as it flew over Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, when 12 to 16 oz (340 to 450 g) of plastic explosive was detonated in its forward cargo hold, triggering a sequence of events that led to the rapid destruction of the aircraft. Winds of 100 knots (190 km/h) scattered passengers and debris along a 130 km (81 mile) corridor over an area of 845 square miles (2189 kmÂ²). Two hundred and seventy people from 21 countries died, including 11 people on the ground.
Known as the Lockerbie bombing and the Lockerbie air disaster in the UK, it became the subject of Britainâ€™s largest criminal inquiry, led by its smallest police force. It was widely regarded as an assault on a symbol of the United States, and with 189 of the victims being Americans, it stood as the deadliest attack on American civilians until September 11, 2001. (cont.)