Far from his prison cell in Scotland, the convicted Lockerbie bomber has been given a hero’s welcome as he arrived back home in Libya.
At Tripoli airport, Scottish flags were waved on the tarmac in recognition of the country’s decision to free dying Abdel Basset al-Megrahi. But the scenes of jubilation will cause dismay in the United States which condemned his release and said Libya should hold him under house arrest. “We have been in contact with the Scottish government, indicating that we objected to this and we thought it was a mistake,” said US President Barack Obama. In Britain too, not everyone is happy at the decision to free Megrahi on compassionate grounds. Conservative Party leader David Cameron slammed the move. “I think it is wrong. This man was convicted of murdering 270 people. He showed no compassion to them. They were not allowed to go home and die with their relatives in their own bed,” he said. After eight years behind bars, Megrahi, who is dying of cancer, maintains his innocence. He is the only person convicted over the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in Scotland which killed all 259 people on board and 11 others on the ground.