Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence official who was sentenced to life in prison in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, has died, the Libyan government said on Sunday. He was 60.
The bombing of the Dec. 21, 1988 Pan Am flight from New York to London as it flew over Lockerbie, Scotland killed 270 people--259 people on board and 11 people on the ground--making it the world's deadliest act of terror until the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Megrahi, the only person convicted in connection with the bombing, had long maintained his innocence. He was sentenced to life in a Scottish prison in 2001. Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, another Libyan intelligence official charged in the bombing, was found not guilty.
"He was too sick to utter anything on his deathbed," Megrahi's brother Abdulhakim, who was with him in a Tripoli hospital when he died, told Reuters. "We want people to know he was innocent."
Megrahi was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer in 2009 and subsequently released from prison on compassionate grounds, sparking an international uproar. At the time, doctors had given the former security chief of Libyan Arab Airlines only a few months to live. When al Megrahi was released to Libya, he was given a "hero's welcome" at the airport.
In 2010, the Associated Press said Megrahi was "stirring outrage simply by surviving."
Of the 270 people killed in the 1988 bombing, 189 were American.
"This man was a horrible man," New York Sen. Chuck Schumer told CNN on Sunday. "It would have been better had he not died in freedom, but died in prison. That's what he deserved, and I still believe that the Scottish government, perhaps with the participation of the British government, created a major injustice when they let him out."
Megrahi told Reuters last October that his role in the attack "had been exaggerated"" and the truth would "emerge soon."