Scottish government frees Lockerbie bomber

Scotland's government freed theterminally ill Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds Thursday,allowing him to die at home in Libya despite American protests thatmercy should not be shown to the man responsible for the deaths of270 people. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said Abdel Baset al-Megrahi'scondition had deteriorated from prostate cancer. Al-Megrahi hadonly served some eight years of a life sentence, but MacAskill saidhe was bound by Scottish values to release him. "Our belief dictates that justice be served but mercy beshown," MacAskill said, ruling that al-Megrahi "be released oncompassionate grounds and be allowed to return to Libya to die." "Some hurts can never heal, some scars can never fade,"MacAskill said. "Those who have been bereaved cannot be expectedto forget, let alone forgive ... However, Mr. al-Megrahi now facesa sentence imposed by a higher power." Al-Megrahi, 57, was convicted in 2001 of taking part in thebombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988. He was sentenced tolife in prison. The airliner - which was carrying mostly American passengers toNew York - blew up as it flew over Scotland. All 259 people aboardand 11 on the ground died when the aircraft crashed into the townof Lockerbie.Ten of the victims were from Long Island.AP wire services contributed to this report.To see an interview with the parents of one of the Long Island victims, go to Channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.

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