Convicted Lockerbie bomber buried in Libya

Peter Lowenstein reacts


The only man convicted for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing was buried Monday with little fanfare near the Libyan capital with just under 100 family members and passers-by in attendance.

The quiet funeral just outside Tripoli stands in stark contrast to the hero's welcome Abdel Baset al-Megrahi received three years ago from his patron, dictator Moammar Gadhafi, upon his return to Libya after serving eight years of a life sentence in Scotland.

There were no government officials or security guards present at the funeral, just male relatives and strangers who happened to be going by. They prayed at the grave in traditional Islamic custom.

The Sunday death of former intelligence official Al-Megrahi in his home in Tripoli has left some victims' families relieved but brought no peace for others who still question his guilt and wonder whether others in the attack went unpunished. Scotland's government said it would continue to investigate the bombing even after al-Megrahi's death.

To the outrage of victims' relatives, Scottish authorities had released al-Megrahi on humanitarian grounds in 2009 after doctors predicted he had just three months to live. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The midair attack that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland claimed the lives of 270 people. Until his death at 60, al-Megrahi claimed he was innocent.

His brother, Mohammed, echoed that sentiment in pained wails during the burial at Janzour cemetery, 10 kilometers (six miles) to the west of the capital.

"My brother is innocent. He's a hero," Mohammed yelled at the funeral. "He's buried among his people. He's buried in his own country."

Mohammed told The Associated Press that al-Megrahi had lived in "agony" due to the toll both the case and cancer had taken on him.

Al-Megrahi has always insisted he had nothing to do with the bombing. Those who believe him got a boost in 2007 when a three-year investigation by a Scottish tribunal found new evidence — and old evidence withheld from trial — suggesting al-Megrahi "may have suffered a miscarriage of justice."

Its 800-page report prompted an appeal on al-Megrahi's behalf, but by then his fate was in the hands of politicians in London, Tripoli and Edinburgh, all of whom jockeyed for position as Libya rebuilt its ties with Britain.

He ended up dropping the appeal in a bid to clear the path for his release on compassionate grounds before he returned to Libya three years ago.

Just before his death, the man convicted in one of the world's deadliest terror attacks had told his family he would try to restart the appeal process if his health improved, Mohammed said.