Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Fhimah speaks about his acquittal and Megrahi's conviction

[What follows is the text of a report published on the BBC News website on this date in 2001:]

The Libyan man acquitted of murder in the Lockerbie trial has been speaking out in his home town of Tripoli.

Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah told the Arabic satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera that he viewed his release as a gift from God.

He said he was convinced that his co-defendant, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, will soon be released as well.

Chanting "they've brought back Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, and we will bring back Abdelbaset," Libyans attending organised rallies do not feel justice was done.

They have been celebrating the return of their acquitted citizen, but they say the convicted Lockerbie bomber Al Megrahi is also innocent.

Speaking to a crowd of well-wishers at his house in Tripoli, Mr Fhimah said he sees his acquittal as God's will, and feels no gratitude to the court that freed him.

"If it had not been a gift from God, I would have stayed with my colleague. I would have continued the time with him and returned here together," he says.

"It's only a matter of time. Soon Abdelbaset will come back home," he adds.

At a politically charged sermon for the faithful, at Tripoli's main mosque, the prayer leader told worshippers that the Lockerbie verdict was unjust and had no legal basis.

And all over Tripoli, the message is the same: Libyans expect both their citizens to be acquitted.

They do not believe the guilty verdict was free from western political pressure and cannot accept that one of their people could have murdered 270 people in cold blood.

Al Megrahi's father says that if anyone has an insight into the mind of the convicted Lockerbie bomber, he does.

"I know my son 100%. I swear to God, if I thought my son had planned this, I would have handed him over to justice myself," he says.

"It's a political issue. They're looking for something to blame him for, the Americans and I don't know who else," he added.

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