Gadhafi welcomes home Lockerbie bomber

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi welcomed home the only man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people with a hug and praised Scotland for releasing him.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi returned to Libya Thursday after Scottish officials announced he was being freed on compassionate grounds because he is suffering from terminal prostate cancer. The decision to free al-Megrahi has been met with condemnation by many of the victims' families and the U.S. which has called for him to be put under house arrest.



The U.S. and Britain were also outraged at the warm welcome al-Megrahi received at the airport when he arrived in Tripoli, where he was met by a crowd of hundreds, some who threw flower petals.



Gadhafi's Friday meeting with al-Megrahi, which was shown on Libyan state television, is sure to fuel the debate about how Libya should be treating the man they once turned over for trial.



Gadhafi hugged al-Megrahi, who at one point kissed the Libyan leader's hand, before sitting down with al-Megrahi and his family.



In what has been the only official Libyan reaction since the release, Gadhafi lauded Scotland for their decision.



"To my friends in Scotland; the Scottish National Party, and Scottish Prime Minister, and the Foreign Secretary, I praise their courage for having proved their independence in decision making, despite the unacceptable and unreasonable pressures they faced. Nevertheless, they took this courageously right and humanitarian decision," he said.



Gadhafi went on to cite "my friend Brown, the Prime Minister of Britain, his government, the Queen of Britain, Elizabeth, and Prince Andrew, who all contributed to encouraging the Scottish government to take this historic and courageous decision, despite the obstacles."



Gadhafi compared al-Megrahi's return to his government's 2007 release of five Bulgarian nurses and a naturalized Palestinian doctor imprisoned on charges of deliberately infecting with HIV more than 400 Libyan children. The nurses denied the charges and said they were tortured into confessing.



The Libyan leader noted there were no such widespread concerns for the families of the infected children when the nurses returned home to a hero's welcome.



"Do we not have feelings and they have feelings?" Gadhafi said.



Libya has accepted formal responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, but many there see al-Megrahi as an innocent victim scapegoated by the West.



Al-Megrahi was the only person convicted in the explosion, which killed all 259 people on the plane and 11 on the ground and was Britain's worst terrorist attack.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas