( ABC NEWS ) Libyan intelligence officer Abdel-baset Ali Mohamed Al Megrahi, the only man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing died at home in Libya today, according to his brother. He was 60.
Yet doubts have persisted about Al Megrahi's conviction, and it's never been established who ordered the Dec. 21, 1988, attack, in which a bomb exploded onboard Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York.
All 259 passengers and crew were killed, and 11 people in the Scottish town of Lockerbie died when the aircraft's wings and fuel tanks plunged to the ground. There were 189 Americans on board.
Two students from SUNY Oswego College were killed on Pan Am Flight 103. Lynne C. Hartunian and Hamburg native Colleen R. Brunner, two Oswego students, were killed in the Pan Am disaster over Lockerbie Scotland on December 21, 1988. There is a memorial to the two in the lobby of the library of their school. A contingent of students from Syracuse University were also killed.
Members of the WNY delegation are responding to the death of Ali Mohamed Al Megrahi:
GILLIBRAND STATEMENT ON DEATH OF LOCKERBIE BOMBER
New York, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released the following statement on the death of Libyan terrorist and convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi:
“The deaths of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi and Muammar Gaddafi brings to a close the total miscarriage of justice that needlessly brought more pain to the families of Pan Am Flight 103. While this will never heal the pain of the horrific day that took so many innocent lives, I hope this will bring families the comfort that Mr. Megrahi is no longer living free as a hero for his act of terror.”
United States Senator Charles Schumer, Long Critical of Decision by Scottish Government to Release Convicted Mass Murderer, Pressed British, Scottish, Libyans to Return Megrahi to Prison to Live Out His Final Days
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was released from prison almost 3 years ago on the so-called compassionate claim that the terrorist only had 3 months to live. Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of the bombing of Pam Am flight 103 enroute from London’s Heathrow Airport to New York’s Kennedy International Airport, killing all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland. Many New Yorkers and New Jersey residents were on board, including 180 Americans and a contingent of students from Syracuse University. Despite being sentenced to life in prison, Megrahi was released in August 2009 on compassionate grounds that claimed the terrorist had only 3 months to live after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Serious questions emerged over whether Megrahi’s release was connected to an oil deal between BP and the Libyan government, under pressure from the British government. Schumer’s advocacy to return Megrahi to prison culminated with an extraordinary meeting the Senator led with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Washington, DC in July 2010. Schumer will say that while the death of Megrahi may help bring some closure, it’s unfortunate that the convicted terrorist was able to live out his remaining days with his family, despite having maliciously denied that right to so many New Yorkers.
U.S. SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER STATEMENT:
“It is a grave injustice that this evil terrorist, who caused so much heartache and havoc died in freedom instead of behind bars where he belongs. It is particularly offensive that he was able to spend his last days with his family after having denied so many Americans the same opportunity. The Al-Megrahi debacle goes down as one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice of the 20th Century.
In 2001, Al Megrahi was found guilty of carrying out the bombing and sentenced to life in jail by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands. He was released on compassionate grounds in August 2009, after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and returned to Libya.
The release was greeted with outrage, but there are others -- including some family membvers of the victims of the terrorists' bomb -- who question whether Megrahi should ever have been in jail at all.
"I do not believe Megrahi was guilty," Robert Black QC, professor emeritus of Scots Law at the University of Edinburgh, told ABC News. "Certainly, on the evidence led at his trial he should never have been convicted."
Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the bombing, also said he continues to believe that Megrahi had no involvement.
Was Al Megrahi Involved?
AP PhotoLibyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was found... View Full Size AP PhotoLibyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, gestures on his arrival at an airport in Tripoli, Libya, in this Aug. 20, 2009 file photo.
Bomber's First Steps to Freedom Watch Video
Pan Am 103 Bomber Freed Watch Video
Pan American Bomber Set Free Watch Video
For the doubters, questions remain about the reliability of prosecution witnesses, the handling of forensic evidence, and even whether Libya was behind the attack.
At first Libya was not seen as a prime suspect, according to Britain's domestic intelligence service, MI5. Initial suspicions fell on a pro-Palestinian group based in Syria.
That changed after a breakthrough in the case that eventually led investigators to Megrahi.
A painstaking forensic examination of the debris from the Boeing 747, which was scattered across 800 square miles of Britain, found traces of explosive in a luggage container, and identified a suitcase that had contained the bomb.
Investigators then found fragments of clothing classed as "category one blast-damaged," meaning they were inside the suitcase that held the bomb.
The clothes were traced to a store in Malta, where the storekeeper recalled selling the clothing to a man resembling al Megrahi.
It was found that the suitcase had been loaded onto PA103 from a connecting flight from Frankfurt, where records suggested that one item of luggage had been loaded on to the aircraft from a flight out of Malta.
Evidence was later heard in court that Megrahi worked for Libya's intelligence service, and until January 2007 was head of its airline security section.
It was shown in court that Megrahi travelled to Malta in December 1988 using what's known as a "coded" passport, meaning a passport in a false name but issued by the Libyan passport authority.
Secret evidence, seen only by the trial judges, further implicated Libyan intelligence and a Libyan Airlines official in the operation, according to a former MI5 officer.
Among other findings made public was a tiny fragment of electronic printed circuit board identified by MI5's main explosives and weapons expert as coming from a long-delay Swiss-made digital timer.
The manufacturers said they had supplied the same type of timing mechanism to Libya.
However a review of the case by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission found in 2007 that al Megrahi may have been wrongfully convicted.