UK

Mistake To Release Megrahi, Hague Says, As Lockerbie Bomber Appears On TV

27/07/2011 12:16 BST | Updated 26/09/2011 10:12 BST

The appearance of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on Libyan TV is a reminder that it was a "great mistake" to release him, Britain's foreign secretary has said.

Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 for the bombing of Pam Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. The incident killed all 270 people on board.

He was released on compassionate grounds by the Scottish Government in August 2009 following medical advice that he had terminal prostate cancer and had less than three months to live. Megrahi is currently living at his family's villa in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

The Libyan's release was met with widespread criticism at the time, particularly from the US and UK. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton branded the decision "absolutely wrong", while the-then prime minister Gordon Brown said he was "angry" and "repulsed" by the reception Megrahi had received in Libya. However, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond stood by the decision, saying that he "absolutely knew" it had been made for the right reasons.

Hague told a press conference on Wednesday that Mehrahi's continued survival showed that the medical advice given to Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was "worthless".

In footage seen by the BBC on Tuesday night, Megrahi was introduced at what appears to be a pro-government rally in Tripoli.

The footage was allegedly filmed live, and showed him in a wheelchair. During his TV appearance, a television presenter said that Megrahi conviction was the result of a "conspiracy". He also said his release had been a victory against oppression.

John Lamont, Scottish Conservative MSP and a member of the Justice Committee, told the Press Association: "The last thing relatives of the 270 people murdered by the Lockerbie Bomber need to see is the sight of him alive and well and free, almost two years after he was released by the SNP Government.

"It was a bad decision made badly and one that shames Scotland around the world. The day is fast approaching when the SNP Government will have to apologise for this terrible decision."

MORE: