Terminally-ill Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi released from prison
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskillMr al-Megrahi did not show his victims any comfort or compassion. But that alone is not a reason for us to deny compassion to him and his family in his final days.
Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the man convicted of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over the sky at Lockerbie walked away a free man today and went straight on to a plane bound for Libya.
270 people in total died when Pan Am flight 103 blew up.
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill made the announced around 1.30pm BST that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi had been set free on compassionate release.
MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary made a leanghty speech on why he was released by him.
The final decision on his release lay with him.
Mr MacAskill said this during his anouncment:
"Mr al-Megrahi did not show his victims any comfort or compassion. They were not allowed to return to the bosom of their families to see out their lives, let alone their dying days. No compassion was shown by him to them,"
"But that alone is not a reason for us to deny compassion to him and his family in his final days."
Mr MacAskill continued: "Our justice system demands that judgement be imposed, but compassion be available.
"For these reasons and these reasons alone, it is my decision that Mr Mr Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, convicted in 2001 for the Lockerbie bombing, now terminally ill with prostate cancer, be released on compassionate grounds and be allowed to return to Libya to die."
"Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs the we seek to live by, remaining true to our values as a people - no matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated," he added.
Under Scottish law if you are going to die you can ask to be released for that reason and not die in prison.
Megrahi, 57, who has served eight years of a life sentence, this week dropped an appeal so he could apply to be released on compassionate grounds as he has terminal prostate cancer.
US president Barack ObamaWe have been in contact with the Scottish government indicating that we objected to this, we thought it was a mistake
His application can not be processed while an appeal is in progress.
The Lockerbie bomber has left Scotland on board a plane bound for Libya after being freed from prison on compassionate grounds.
Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, 57, was jailed in 2001 for the atrocity which claimed 270 lives in 1988.
The decision to release Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, was made by the Scottish Government.
US president Barack Obama said the decision was "a mistake" and some US victims' families reacted angrily.
Some 189 Americans were among those who died in the explosion.
A police convoy left Greenock Prison, where Megrahi was serving his sentence, more than an hour after the announcement of his release was made.
He was taken to Glasgow Airport to board the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus plane bound for Tripoli, which took off shortly before 1530 BST.
The government said it had consulted widely before Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill made his decision on applications for Megrahi's compassionate release or his transfer to a Libyan jail.
He told a media conference on Thursday that he had rejected the application for a prisoner transfer.
However, after taking medical advice it was expected that three months was a "reasonable estimate" of the time Megrahi had left to live.
He ruled out the option of the Libyan being allowed to live in Scotland on security grounds.