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Scotland frees terminally ill Lockerbie bomber

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) - Scotland's government freed the
terminally ill Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds Thursday,
allowing him to die at home in Libya despite American protests that
mercy should not be shown to the man responsible for the deaths of
270 people.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said Abdel Baset al-Megrahi's
condition had deteriorated from prostate cancer. Al-Megrahi had
only served some eight years of a life sentence, but MacAskill said
he was bound by Scottish values to release him.

"Our belief dictates that justice be served but mercy be
shown," MacAskill said, ruling that al-Megrahi "be released on
compassionate grounds and be allowed to return to Libya to die."

"Some hurts can never heal, some scars can never fade,"
MacAskill said. "Those who have been bereaved cannot be expected
to forget, let alone forgive ... However, Mr. al-Megrahi now faces
a sentence imposed by a higher power."

Al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of taking part in the bombing
of Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988. He was sentenced to life in
prison.

The airliner - which was carrying mostly American passengers to
New York - blew up as it flew over Scotland. All 259 people aboard
and 11 on the ground died when the aircraft crashed into the town
of Lockerbie.

The former Libyan intelligence officer was sentenced to serve a
minimum of 27 years in a Scottish prison for Britain's deadliest
terrorist attack. But a 2007 review of his case found grounds for
an appeal of his conviction, and many in Britain believe he is
innocent.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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