Confusion over Lockerbie bomber ‘death’

By politics.co.uk staff

Journalists across the world were thrown into confusion today after apparantly false reports emerged that Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi had died.

Initial media reports he had died surfaced in mid-afternoon but were swiftly rebuffed. The Foriegn Office refused to confirm them, and Megrahi’s lawyer flatly contradicted them.

Megrahi, 57, was serving a 27-year sentence begun in 2001 for his part in the Lockerbie bombing. He had been freed by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds on August 20th.

Scottish justice minister Kenny MacAskill said he prioritised “compassion and mercy” in his decision to free Megrahi.

At the time of his release Mr MacAskill said doctors estimated Megrahi had three months to live. Today’s claims come two months and one day after his release.

The move sparked controversy around the world, especially in the United States where families of many of the victims of Pan Am flight 103 were outraged.

Jubilant scenes accompanied Megrahi’s return to Libya, which prompted widespread condemnation around the world and damaged Tripoli’s standing after a period of rapprochement with the international community.