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Ailing Lockerbie Bomber Sent Home to Libya

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was serving a life sentence for the 1988 bombing of Pan-Am flight 103, was released by the Scottish government Thursday due to his ailing health and allowed to return to his native Libya.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next tonight, the release of a convicted Lockerbie bomber. NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels narrates our report.

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    The only person ever convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 left a Scottish jail today a free man. He was hustled to the airport in a convoy of armored police vehicles.

    And then, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, looking frail and suffering from terminal prostate cancer, slowly boarded a jet sent from Libya and took off for home.

    Megrahi served eight years of his life sentence. Doctors say he has less than three months to live. And with that in mind, the Scottish authorities granted his request to return home to die.

    KENNY MACASKILL, Scottish justice secretary: Our justice system demands that judgment be imposed, but compassion be available. Our beliefs dictate that justice be served, but mercy be shown. Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs that we seek to live by, remaining true to our values as a people, no matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated.

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    Two hundred fifty-nine people on board, and 11 others on the ground, were killed when the plane exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, torn apart by a bomb hidden among the baggage. Most of the victims — 189 of them — were Americans.

    Family members of victims expressed outrage at Megrahi's release. Bert Ammerman lost his brother.

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