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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Locherbie bomber may be released on compassionnate grounds - he is dying of cancer...

EDINBURGH, Scotland - Scottish officials may release the convicted Lockerbie bomber early and allow him to return to Libya, igniting debate between victims' loved ones in the United States and Britain.

British media reports say 57-year-old Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi could soon be freed on compassionate grounds because he is terminally ill with prostate cancer.

The possibility of a release has reignited fierce debate about whether justice would have been served.

Friends and family of US victims expressed outrage over the possibility that al-Megrahi could be freed early.

"I have a tough time being compassionate for a guy who killed 270 people," said Peter Sullivan of Akron, Ohio. His best friend, Mike Doyle, was among the victims.

Sullivan, 51, said there was no reason al-Megrahi should be released.
"This is total, pure, ugly appeasement of a terrorist dictator and a monster," Cohen said.

However, family members of UK victims are more open to the idea.

Many British families feel that the full truth about the bombings has yet to be uncovered.

"Other people and other countries were involved in this," said the Rev. John Mosey, from Worcestershire, England, who lost his daughter Helga, 19. "We should show him some Christian compassion."

The Scottish government said Scotland's Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill had yet to review all case information before deciding whether to release al-Megrahi.

A decision is expected by the end of August.

270 people were killed by the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103. Most of the victims were American citizens.

US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Washington had made clear that their view was that al-Megrahi "should spend the rest of his time in jail."

Al-Megrahi, a former Libyan secret service agent, is the sole person convicted for the plane bombing over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

He was arrested in 1991 in Libya, and held under house arrest until handed over in 1998 and convicted in 2001 by a special Scottish court set held at Kamp van Zeist in the Netherlands.

His co-accused Amin Khalifa Fhimah was acquitted, but al-Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison.

Al-Megrahi unsuccessfully appealed immediately after the trial.

A second appeal is currently under way in Edinburgh after a review by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission in 2007 raised concerns over the evidence used to secure the conviction.

What compassion was shown to the victims, I wonder?

Acknowledgements: AP

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