Abdel Baset al-Megrahi gives 'final interview' denying Lockerbie bombing, citing new evidence


Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, pictured in hospital in Tripoli on September 9, 2009.


Mahmud Turkia

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the bombing of a US-bound plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, has once more denied involvement in the attack, in what he claimed would be his "final interview" before his death.

Libyan national Megrahi was convicted of the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing in 2001 and sentenced to life in a Scottish jail. He was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 after being diagnosed with advanced terminal prostate cancer, and allowed to return home.

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In an interview conducted in Libya by a former British police officer and published in UK newspapers Thursday, Megrahi repeated his insistence that he was not reponsible for the attack, which killed 270 people, mostly Americans:

"I am an innocent man. I am about to die and I ask now to be left in peace with my family."

Megrahi said a new book on the case, on which he has collaborated, would present new evidence to support his claims.

Notably, the Daily Mail reported, Megrahi insisted that a key prosecution witness had lied at his trial. He accused Tony Gauci, the owner of a shop in Malta at which Megrahi is supposed to have bought clothes he then used to pack the bomb, of falsely identifying him. Megrahi claims that Gauci's brother also met the person who purchased the clothes, but has never been called as a witness.

According to the Herald Scotland, Megrahi's official biography, due for publication in early 2012, is expected to reveal never-before-seen details from the official report by a Scottish commission that found there was sufficient doubt over his conviction to refer his case back to an appeals court.

Megrahi told his interviewer:

"I want people to read the book and use their brain, not hearts, and make judgment. Information is not from me, not from lawyers, not from the media, but experts who deal with criminal law and science. It will clear my name."

Scotland's most senior law officer said this week that Scottish police continue to investigate the bombing, and are preparing to travel to Libya in search of further evidence.

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Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, who is in the US to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the attack, said that the fall of Muammar Gaddafi offered investigators new hope of conducting a full inquiry, the UK Press Association reported. Mulholland, who met with FBI director Robert Mueller and US Attorney General Eric Holder during his visit, said that justice had only "partly been done" for Lockerbie:

"The evidence pointed to it being an act of state-sponsored terrorism. Megrahi was a member of the Libyan security service—it is risible to think that he acted alone. What we want to do is bring the others to book."

According to White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, the US has "repeatedly" raised the matter with Libya's new government, USA Today reported.