A two-decades-old criminal case has resurfaced with the discovery of a dying man in Tripoli.
CNN showed footage of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi lying in bed, looking near death. He was convicted of the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people.
In 2009, a deal allowed al-Megrahi to return to Libya from jail in Britain to serve out the remainder of his life sentence. He was released to Libya on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, but senators and lawyers have continuously fought to have him extradited from Libya and returned to jail in the U.K.
His frail appearance quashed hopes that he would ever be removed from Libya. To further end any hopes, the newly recognized government of Libya, the National Transitional Council, said the Megrahi case was not a priority, the Guardian reports.
Al-Megrahi was first indicted of the bombing in 1991 with a co-conspirator Lamen Khalifa Fhimah. George Lardner Jr. wrote in The Post on November 15, 1991:
[Acting Attorney General William P.] Barr said the charges were the result of “a brilliant and unrelenting investigation” by FBI agents and Scottish police who combed 845 square miles of territory “inch by inch, month after month” for clues from the widely scattered debris. The investigation concluded that Pan Am 103 was blown up by a plastic bomb that had been built into a Toshiba radio-cassette recorder, then put into a suitcase packed with clothing; the suitcase was stored in a forward cargo hold.
Two fragments — each smaller than a fingernail — and tiny bits of clothing proved crucial in solving the case. One fragment, driven by the blast into the large cargo container, was found to be part of the Toshiba's circuit board.
Another fragment was found in a piece of shirt that had been in the suitcase containing the bomb. “Scientists determined that it was part of the bomb's timing device and traced it to its manufacturer -- a Swiss company that had sold it to a high-level Libyan intelligence official,” Barr said. Probers were also helped by the seizure in Togo several years ago of a complete digital timer made by the same Swiss manufacturer. Further, Sengalese authorities photographed another such timer after they seized it in February 1988 from two other Libyan intelligence officers, Mohammed Nadyi and Mansour Omran Saber.
According to U.S. officials, the three timers were part of a consignment of 20 prototypes made in 1985-86 by the Zurich-based firm Meister and Bollier on orders from Libyan intelligence officials.
Al-Megrahi, who was chief of the Libyan JSO's airline security section, and Fhimah, who held a cover job as station manager for Libyan Arab Airlines at Luqa airport in Malta, worked together to plant the bomb, the U.S. and British indictments said.
Fhimah allegedly stored a quantity of plastic explosive, issued by the JSO to various operatives, at his airport office and helped fashion the bomb. On Dec. 7, 1988, the indictments said, al-Megrahi bought clothing and an umbrella at Mary's House, a shop near his hotel in Malta, and put them in the suitcase “to provide the appearance of a normal travel bag.”
Investigators said that sometime that month, the two suspects illegally obtained some Air Malta luggage tags. On Dec. 21, they allegedly used them to route the bomb-rigged suitcase as unaccompanied luggage aboard an Air Malta flight to Frankfurt. There, the suitcase was transferred to Pan Am Flight 103A and, on arrival in London, it was put aboard Pan Am Flight 103.
The Boeing 747 jumbo jet blew up at 31,000 feet over Lockerbie, a half-hour after takeoff from London's Heathrow airport.