Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has been buried in the town of Janzur, west of the Libyan capital Tripoli. He was the only individual convicted in association with the Lockerbie bombing of 1988. He died at his residence Sunday, aged 60.
The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York resulted in 270 fatalities, including all 259 of the airplane’s occupants and eleven individuals on the ground. 189 of those who died in the incident were US citizens. The death toll for this terrorist incident is larger than that for any other which has occurred in the United Kingdom thus far.
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was placed on trial in May 2000 in the Netherlands alongside Al Amin Khalifah Fhimah. While Fhimah was found not guilty on all charges placed against him, al-Megrahi was found guilty of his and sentenced to at least 27 years imprisonment. Having been initially placed in HM Prison Barlinnie, al-Megrahi was transferred to Greenock in 2005.
In 2002, an appeal against his conviction was unsuccessful. Five years later, senior judges in Scotland were to review his case, but he dropped the appeal. Due to suffering from prostate cancer, he was granted a compassionate release from Scottish prison two days later.
Current UK Prime Minister David Cameron commented on his belief that al-Megrahi “should never have been released from prison” and said his death was an occasion “to remember the 270 people who lost their lives in what was an appalling terrorist act”. According to Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, the investigation into the Lockerbie bombing is ongoing. Salmond also called for remembrance of those killed. Prosecutors, he said, had always thought there were others besides al-Megrahi involved in the attack.
US citizen Susan Cohen, the mother of one of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing, thought of al-Megrahi as “a mass murderer” who “deserved to die”, adding to CNN: “I feel no pity around him. He got to die with his family around him. My daughter [Theodora], at age 20, died a brutal, horrible death”. However, UK citizen Jim Swire, father of another victim of the bombing, believes al-Megrahi was not guilty. He described al-Megrahi’s death as “a sad time”, telling the BBC he was “satisfied for some years that this man was nothing to do with the murder of my daughter”.
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has consistently denied responsibility for the attack. In his final recorded interview in December 2011, he insisted he was “an innocent man” who was “about to die and I ask now to be left in peace with my family.” His brother Mohammed al-Megrahi claimed “[t]here never was exact proof” and said al-Megrahi’s “pain is over now – he is with God”.
Animated reconstruction of Pan Am Flight 103 just before explosion Image: Anynobody.
Animated reconstruction of flight at time of explosion Image: Anynobody.
Animated reconstruction of plane disintegrating just after explosion Image: Anynobody.
Memorial at Dryfesdale Cemetery in Scotland Image: StaraBlazkova.
Memorial at Syracuse University, Syracuse, in the US state of New YorkImage: Newkai.