|Pan Am flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 [AP]|
Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the 1988 Pan Am airline bombing over the Scottish town of Lockerbie that killed 270 people, is flying back to Tripoli a free man. Some are disgusted, others relieved. Here is a selection of views on the controversial decision.
US WHITE HOUSE
“The United States deeply regrets the decision by the Scottish executive to release Abdel Basset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi.
“As we have expressed repeatedly to officials of the government of the United Kingdom and to Scottish authorities, we continue to believe that Megrahi should serve out his sentence in Scotland.
“On this day, we extend our deepest sympathies to the families who live every day with the loss of their loved ones. We recognise the effects of such a loss weigh upon a family forever.”
JIM SWIRE, FATHER OF LOCKERBIE BOMBING VICTIM
“I am delighted. I don’t think he had anything to do with it and I think he was effectively framed.
“I think the whole process was a political stitch up from start to finish, which is something that needs to be gotten to the bottom of. Iran’s involvement has never been properly laid out.
“The one thing I’m pleased about today is that he was transferred under the compassionate grounds provision, which means he can return home immediately to his family, as is right.
“I think Gaddafi [the Libyan leader] and Libya will celebrate his return, and I don’t begrudge them that because I don’t think they had anything to do with Lockerbie.”
FRANK DUGGAN, PRESIDENT OF US VICTIMS OF PAN AM 103
“We have always maintained that he should remain in prison in Scotland and die there if it comes to that.
“I understand though that the Libyan government has given assurances that there will be no celebratory reactions on the part of the Libyans when al-Megrahi gets back. We were all afraid that this guy would go back to a hero’s welcome.
But there’s going to be no dancing in the end-zone, as the expression goes.”
AISHA AL-MEGRAHI, LOCKERBIE BOMBER’S WIFE
“I am very, very happy. I am overjoyed, it is indescribable.
It is a great moment which we have been waiting for for nine years. The house is full to bursting; everyone who loves Abdel Basset is with us”.
PROFESSOR ROBERT BLACK, SCOTTISH BARRISTER CRITICAL OF GUILTY VERDICT
“It gets him home to die which is what has been his primary objective and I’m pleased – but I am saddened that he will die a convicted man and that the appeal which might have cleared his name was abandoned unnecessarily.
“The evidence wasn’t sufficient to convict him. No reasonal tribunal on that evidence could or should have convicted him.
“The time it’s taken to grant his appeal and the funereal, snail-like pace that the Scottish court adopted over his appeal is a disgrace.”
OLIVER MILES, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO LIBYA
“I don’t think it has got any great wider significance in terms of … business and the economy.
“It removes an irritant, but it wasn’t a great irritant, I don’t think it is going to give us lots of lovely new business and I don’t think the problem as it stood was stopping us getting lots of lovely new business.
CHRISTINE GRAHAME, MEMBER OF SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT AND CAMPAIGNER FOR AL-MEGRAHI’S RELEASE
“I have made no secret of my firm view that Mr Megrahi is innocent of this atrocity.
“I reaffirm my belief that Mr Megrahi came under undue, external pressure to drop his appeal, believing this was the only way he could secure his release today.
“It is imperative that a full public inquiry is established at the earliest opportunity. I would call on the Crown office to secure all the evidential material it holds to be used in that inquiry if and when it is established.
“Sadly the full truth behind the bombing of that flight has still not been revealed. I expect that, in time, history will reveal who really carried out that attack and why, and that finally some closure can be brought on this case.”