[JURIST] Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi [BBC News profile] died in Libya on Sunday after losing his battle with cancer. His brother reported that Megrahi, 60, died in his home in Tripoli [BBC report] after his health deteriorated rapidly due to his condition. Megrahi was a former Libyan intelligence officer and the only person convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 [BBC News backgrounder] over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988. Megrahi and another Libyan were indicted in Scottish and US courts in 1991, but Libya refused to extradite them until an agreement was reached in 1999. Despite being sentenced to 27 years in prison, Megrahi at all times denied his involvement in the Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 people and remains the deadliest terrorist incident ever to take place on British soil. Scotland released Megrahi to Libya [JURIST report] in 2009 on humanitarian grounds after his diagnosis of terminal prostate cancer. His funeral is scheduled to take place on Monday at Tripoli’s main cemetery.
Megrahi’s 2009 release was controversial, condemned by both US officials and the Scottish Parliament [JURIST report]. Responding to criticism of his decision to release Megrahi, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill [official website] claimed he acted in good faith, denying that there was an arrangement [Telegraph report] for Megrahi to drop his appeal in return for his release. In August the Scottish Crown defended its decision [JURIST report] to release Megrahi, prompting Scottish prosecutors to ask Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) [official website] for any evidence, witnesses or assistance they could provide to help track down others involved in the bombing. In August 2010 Scottish Labour Party officials called for the publication of all medical evidence related to Megrahi’s release [JURIST report]. Earlier in 2010 US lawmakers called for an investigation [JURIST report] into the role that oil company British Petroleum (BP) [official website] may have played in Megrahi’s release.