THE Lockerbie bomber has used his first interview in two years to claim that his role in the atrocity was exaggerated, to distance himself from the Gaddafi regime and to ask that he should be allowed to die in peace.
After Libya’s revolutionary fighters captured Tripoli in late August, Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi’s family allowed CNN and the BBC to film him at his home in the city, apparently semi- comatose and close to death, to ward off demands that he should be returned to prison in Scotland.
He was using an oxygen mask and intravenous drip.
By yesterday al-Megrahi, 59, had recovered enough to tell Reuters from his bed: “The West exaggerated my name. Please leave me alone. I have only a few more days, weeks or months.”
He looked frail, breathed laboriously and complained that he could no longer obtain the medicines that he needs.
Al-Megrahi’s status has changed dramatically since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown. His access to the best medical treatment has gone, as have the guards that protected his handsome villa around the clock. Instead his high-walled home has been beseiged by Western journalists.
Yesterday’s interview, the first since he talked to The Times and the Glasgow Herald after his controversial release from a Scottish prison in 2009, was a plea for privacy combined with what appeared to be a subtle recalibration of his role in the Lockerbie bombing and a calculated distancing of himself from the ousted regime.
He did not repeat his past protestations of innocence over the deaths of 270 people in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. Instead he argued that his role had been exaggerated, and called his trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in 2000 a farce. “Camp Zeist court is the smallest place on Earth that contains the largest number of liars. I suffered from liars at Camp Zeist court more than you can imagine,” he said.
Al-Megrahi suggested that further revelations about the bombing were imminent. “The facts will become clear one day and hopefully in the near future. In a few months from now you will see new facts that will be announced,” he said.
Few of the victims’ families believe that al-Megrahi was solely responsible for the bombing, and some believe that he is innocent.
Al-Megrahi allegedly served as an intelligence agent during Colonel Gaddafi’s rule, but insisted: “All my work was administrative. I never harmed Libyans … I never harmed anyone in my life.”
He also appeared to have been amply rewarded for his ten years’ imprisonment. But in yesterday’s interview he ducked the question of whether he supported the Gaddafi regime, insisting: “I don’t know anything about [the uprising] … that’s not a question for a sick person.”
He concluded: “I want to die in my house, among my family. I hope to God I will see my country united, with no fighting or war. I hope the bloodshed will stop in Libya. I wish all the best for my country.”