Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi marks 1st anniversary of freedom by watching BBC and talking Rangers with pals

Sunday Mail - 22 August 2010

THE Lockerbie bomber celebrated a year of freedom by watching the BBC and talking to his Scottish pals about Rangers.

Cancer-stricken Abdelbaset Megrahi, 58, sat up in bed in his home in Tripoli in front of a large plasma screen surrounded by close family.

Vip friends including members of Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi’s family arrived to pay their respects, bringing gifts to mark the anniversary of Megrahi’s release from prison in Greenock.

Despite government calls for low-key celebrations on Friday, crowds took to the streets, chanting their hero’s name.

Many wore white baseball caps like the one Megrahi wore when he was set free on compassionate grounds as he was dying of prostate cancer.

Megrahi has not been seen in public since December, but visitors reported that he was “comfortable and surrounded by loved ones”.

One said: “Brother Abdelbaset has been sat up in bed and keeping his mind active.

“He loves communicating with people via email, and by phone when he feels strong enough. He has friends in Scotland following his many years there and was talking with them.

“He misses certain people in Scotland and was asking about the weather, that kind of thing.

“He wanted to know how Glasgow Rangers, his favourite football team, were doing.

“He was watching British satellite news channels, especially the BBC, as local channels do not cover his case.

“He has been depressed about some of the coverage in the UK, but still wants to know what is being said.”

Among those visiting the killer was Colonel Gaddafi’s son Saif, whose charity are bankrolling Megrahi’s cancer treatment and living costs.

Police and soldiers ringed the house as crowds thronged Tripoli’s waterfront.

Fire crackers were let off and car horns blew after sundown as the Ramadan fast ended.

Megrahi arrived home in Libya on August 20 last year after being freed from jail.

The fact he has survived beyond his initial diagnosis has fuelled criticism of Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill’s decision to release him.

Megrahi maintains his innocence of Britain’s worst-ever terrorist atrocity.

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