Monday, 21 August 2017

Megrahi’s return to Tripoli

[What follows is excerpted from a report published on the BBC News website on this date in 2009:]

The US and UK have reacted angrily to the welcome given in Libya to the Lockerbie bomber, freed from prison on compassionate grounds.

In the US, President Obama said the sight of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi being greeted by a jubilant crowd in Tripoli was "highly objectionable".

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Libya would face new scrutiny.
Muammar Gaddafi has yet to comment but the Libyan leader's son is said to have called the release a "victory".

US and UK authorities say they have warned Libya about the sensitivity of the issue. (...)

Hundreds of people turned out to meet Megrahi's plane as it landed in Tripoli, many waving flags.

Megrahi was met by Col Gaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, who thanked both the Scottish and British governments for their "brave stance" although the British Government has insisted the decision to release Megrahi was a purely Scottish affair.

The younger Gaddafi added in his statement that there was a "considerable amount of new evidence" to show Megrahi was innocent.

In remarks carried by a Libyan TV channel on Friday, and reported by AFP news agency, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi described Megrahi's release as a "victory".

"Your liberation is a victory that we offer to all Libyans," he said in the footage apparently recorded on Thursday night as he accompanied Megrahi on the flight back from Scotland to Libya.

Megrahi's daughter Ghada told the BBC on Friday that her father was resting at home.

"He's at home with us, he's a bit tired and worn out because it was a slightly long trip for him," she told BBC World Service.

"He was overjoyed with seeing us all again."

Megrahi's elderly mother, his daughter added, was "very excited and happy to see him again".

[RB: There was considerable media outrage at what was characterised as a “hero’s welcome” accorded to Megrahi at Tripoli Airport. A corrective, penned by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi for The New York Times, can be read here.]

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