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Lockerbie bomber still alive, nearly a year on

It is almost one year since the only man convicted of the UK's worst terrorist atrocity was released to a wave of international condemnation.

Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, stricken by terminal cancer, was not expected to survive three months.

Today he remains alive back home in Tripoli, Libya, and is expected to check in every month with the Scottish council monitoring his progress.

The man who freed Megrahi, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, stands by his decision.

He said: “I authorised it, I did so in good faith and I believe that everyone who's been involved in this has also acted in good faith.

“It was my responsibility and I stand by my actions.”

The release was thrown firmly back into the international spotlight as the one-year anniversary approaches after the US Senate foreign relations committee launched an inquiry into the decision.

Of the 270 people who died when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up in December 1988, 189 were Americans. US families were among the most vocal critics of the decision, along with President Barack Obama.

Bob Monetti, whose son Rick (20) died in the tragedy, said: “Up until last August, the Scots were the heroes in the piece.

“The Scottish police were wonderful, the Scottish prosecution were great, the Scottish people were great and now this has spoilt the relationship we have with the Scots.”

For the British families, Pamela Dix, whose brother Peter was among the dead, said some wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron asking him to instigate a full, independent inquiry into all of the circumstances of the bombing.

“This matter remains unresolved and that until it is resolved, the families will be clamouring loud for action and information,” she said.

Mr Cameron also said the release was wrong but said it was one for the Scottish Government to make.

After nine months, Megrahi lived longer than any murderer granted compassionate release from jail in Scotland. This intensified the question marks surrounding the medical evidence on which Mr MacAskill based his decision.

Many critics, including Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie, said the past year has left “question marks about the integrity” of the justice system in Scotland.

She added: “We know that for compassionate grounds to apply we must have compelling medical evidence.

“We've never seen that medical evidence, we now know from the prison doctor that the cancer experts were not absolute in their view that Mr Megrahi only had three months to live, so there is a lot of confusion here which the SNP Government has allowed to fester and, frankly, we need all that doubt dispelled.”

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