, TRIPOLI, May 20 – Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, the only person convicted over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing which killed 270 people, died on Sunday, almost three years after being freed from jail on compassionate grounds.
“He died an hour ago,” his brother Abdelhakim al-Megrahi told AFP, putting the time of death at shortly after 1pm (1100 GMT).
Doctors had yet to determine the cause of death, he added.
Megrahi, 60, suffered from prostate cancer and was hospitalised for a few days in April before being sent back home to be with his family.
On April 16, Abdelhakim had said his brother’s days “were numbered.”
A Scottish court in 2001 convicted the Libyan of the 1988 attack on Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, but he was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 after doctors said he had only three months to live.
Megrahi had always maintained his innocence and his brother Abdelhakim has in the past defended him, saying he was “exploited” by Gaddafi’s regime which let him take the blame for a crime he did not commit.
Another brother, Mohammad al-Megrahi, too insisted Abdelbaset was innocent.
“All the darkness of the universe will never cover the flame of the candle which is the truth,” he told AFP outside the family home on Sunday.
“Within the last decade more than 10 babies have been born in this family of Abdelbaset Megrahi. One day these Abdelbaset babies will get an apology from the world.”
Megrahi had been greeted as a hero on his return to Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, after having served eight years of a minimum 27-year sentence for his role in the bombing.
The fact that he had survived much longer than the doctors had estimated had provoked indignation in Britain and the United States.
On the second anniversary of the release of the former Libyan intelligence agent on August 20, 2009, the Scottish government insisted its decision to free him had been vindicated.
But British Prime Minister David Cameron criticised the release as a “terrible mistake,” and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he would like to see him “back in jail behind bars.”
Most of those killed in the bombing of the Boeing 747 jet headed from London to New York were Americans. All 259 passengers and crew were killed, along with 11 people on the ground.
Last August, during the revolution which toppled Muammar Gaddafi, another of Megrahi’s brothers told reporters outside the family home in Tripoli that he was “in and out of a coma.”
Amid the lack of law and order after the revolt which brought armed fighters out onto the streets, his medicine had been looted and no doctors were available, the family said.
In December, Megrahi told several British newspapers in what was billed as a “final interview” that a book being written by investigative journalist John Ashton would clear his name.
“I am an innocent man” he told the papers, including The Times and the Daily Mail.
“I am about to die and I ask now to be left in peace with my family,” he said.
“I will not be giving any more interviews, and no more cameras will be allowed into my home,” he explained. “I am an innocent man, and the book will clear my name.”
Megrahi claimed that he had “never seen” a Maltese shopkeeper whose testimony and identification proved central to the original guilty verdict.
“I never bought clothes from him,” he added. “He dealt with me very wrongly. I have never seen him in my life before he came to court.”
According to Megrahi, US agencies “led the way” in securing his conviction.