The view from Tripoli: Celebrations greet the return of Megrahi

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Thousands of well-wishers greeted Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi on his arrival at Tripoli airport last night. The terminally-ill terror convict greeted members of his family on the Tarmac.

Earlier his 95-year-old mother, Hajma Fatma, told the Tripoli Post: "Eleven years I did not spend the holy month of Ramadan with him. We told them [the victims of the bombing] that my son was innocent; that he would not slaughter a chicken at home and that he would not have caused the disaster at Lockerbie." She added that when he arrived, "I will run out to the street and hug him so tight". To not miss the moment of his arrival, Mrs Fatma said she had been keeping on high alert. "I do not close the door at all," she said. "I am expecting him at any moment." Mrs Fatma had been kept informed about her son's medical condition by his wife Aisha al-Megrahi, who moved to Scotland with her three small sons in 2002 and who has been commuting between the cottage where they lived and the jail in Greenock ever since. Now the whole clan has returned home.

Al Jazeera's Tripoli correspondent said Libyans were "triumphant" at the convicted terrorist's return, but despite yesterday's airport greeting, the greatest jubilation will be reserved for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the coup d'état which brought Colonel Gaddafi to power on 1 September 1969: Megrahi will be the guest of honour at the celebrations.

A top Libyan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity earlier in the week, called Megrahi "a model for the Libyan citizen who had sacrificed himself for his homeland". He added that Megrahi would "absolutely not be treated as a prisoner".