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Dying Lockerbie bomber says his role was exaggerated

Convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi speaks during an exclusive interview with Reuters TV at his home in Tripoli, Oct. 3, 2011.


Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people, said his role in the attack had been exaggerated and the truth about what really happened would emerge soon.

Released from a Scottish prison two years ago because he was suffering from terminal cancer, he spoke from a bed at his Tripoli home. Looking frail and his breathing laboured, he said he had only a few months, at most, to live.

"The facts [about the Lockerbie bombing]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 over the pinging of medical monitors.

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"The West exaggerated my name. Please leave me alone. I only have a few more days, weeks or months."

Mr. al-Megrahi was found guilty in 2001 of bombing Pan Am flight 103 as it flew to New York from London on Dec. 21, 1988. All 259 people aboard the aircraft were killed and 11 others on the ground in the Scottish town of Lockerbie also died from falling wreckage.

His release on compassionate grounds angered many relatives of the victims, 189 of whom were American, and the United States criticized the decision. A number of U.S. politicians have pressed for his extradition to the U.S.

Mr. al-Megrahi, who had served as an intelligence agent during the rule of deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, denied any role in suspected human rights abuses in his home country.

"All my work was administrative. I never harmed Libyans," he said. "I didn't harm anyone. I've never harmed anyone in my life."

He called his Lockerbie trial, held in the Dutch court at Camp Zeist under Scottish jurisdiction, a farce.

"Camp Zeist Court is the smallest place on earth that contains the largest number of liars," he said. "I suffered from the liars at Camp Zeist Court more than you can imagine."

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Mr. al-Megrahi lay propped at a slight angle in a hospital-style bed surrounded by members of his family. An oxygen tank stood nearby, but he did not use an oxygen mask during the interview.

Unshaven, he wore a checked shirt and had a white headdress wrapped loosely around his head.

Libya's ruling National Transitional Council said last week it would work with the Scottish government over the possible involvement of others in the 1988 bombing, from which the country's new rulers are eager to distance themselves.

The NTC had previously called the case closed and said any probe would not involve Mr. al-Megrahi, who had been serving a life sentence. NTC head Mustafa Abdel Jalil has previously said to have evidence of Col. Gadhafi's involvement in the bombing.

Mr. al-Megrahi said that Jim Swire, the father of one of the victims of the bombing and who has disputed the Scottish court's findings, maintained contact with him.

"The day before yesterday, Dr. Swire sent me an e-mail to tell me that there is a new medicine. He is trying to help me. He told me how to get this medicine."

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He said he had little knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Col. Gadhafi's overthrow and that the armed groups that toppled the dictator had invaded his home and mistreated him.

"My house has been violated. They smashed the main door and stole my cars."

He said he was being denied medical treatment which he said was stipulated in the deal that saw him returned from Scotland to Libya.

"I was treated badly when I came back. During the latest incidents, especially in the last month, I have a shortage of all my medicines. My doctor tells me to look for medicine like anyone else despite the agreement between us and Britain," he said. "I have four pills left [of one of the medications]"

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