13 Aug 2009

Scotland denies claims Lockerbie bomber to be freed

8:36 pm on 13 August 2009

The Scottish government says no decision has yet been taken on whether to allow the former Libyan agent convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing to be released from prison.

British media are reporting that Abdel Basset al Megrahi, 57, who has terminal prostate cancer, is to be released from prison on compassionate grounds.

He is serving life for murdering 270 people when Pan Am flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Of those killed, 189 were American citizens and the relatives of some are angry that he may be freed, the BBC reports.

The official group of bereaved relatives in the United States is appalled at the prospect of his release, saying Megrahi showed no mercy to their family members who fell burning from the sky.

The group says he should be treated for the cancer in prison in Scotland and feels even more strongly that he should not be allowed to return to Libya where it is feared he will be given a hero's welcome.

However, Scotland's Justice Minister says he is still considering Libya's application for Megrahi's release and hopes to reach a decision this month.

A Libyan official says a deal is "in the last steps".