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July 8th, 2010
06:54 AM ET

Convicted killer gets new lease on life

When a cancer patient's life expectancy expands from three months to 10 or 20 years, it is considered good news. But what about when the patient is the Lockerbie bomber?

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds last August after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

al Megrahi, now 58, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which killed 270 people- including 189 Americans.

Scotland's decision to release him on compassionate grounds was made only eight and a half years after he was sentenced to life in prison. He was returned to Libya with the expectation that he would die within three months. Now, according to his doctor, he may live up to 10 or 20 years.

His release upset many of the Pan Am Flight 103's victim's family members. It also provokes an interesting question- should convicted murderers ever be released on compassionate grounds?

Please post your comments below and Kyra will read some during the 10am ET hour of the CNN Newsroom.

Filed under: Anchors • CNN Newsroom • Kyra Phillips • What the...?
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Robert Hunt (father of victim, Karen Lee Hunt)

    We knew this was a sham when he was released last year. The Scottish government should be ashamed of themselves--along with the government of Great Britain. Who has been punished for the largest mass murder of American civilians in history (until 9/11)???? NO ONE!!!!
    The only individual convicted of the crime has been set free, and the country that sponsored him has suffered NO consequences!!

    Our government is no better. All of the administrations since the bombing of Pan Am 103 have basically looked the other way for economic reasons (i.e. oil, trade, etc.).

    July 8, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  2. Kaddafi delenda est

    FBI Director Robert Mueller wrote a furious letter to the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who approved Megrahi’s release, saying, “Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law. Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world… Your action rewards a terrorist even though he never admitted to his role in this act of mass murder and even though neither he nor the government of Libya ever disclosed the names and roles of others who were responsible.”

    Widows, orphans and aging parents are suffering agony over this. It was pathetic watching 40 of them silently face a jeering phalanx of hundreds of Kaddafi-cheering Nation of Islam thugs outside the UN. in New York last year.

    Where is the compassion for the victims of this oily deal with the terrorist kingpin, Kaddafi?

    July 8, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  3. Jeryl

    To answer your question: NO! What kind of compassion did this killer show to the people on Pan Am 103? If the truth be known, a little investigation will show that his release was (clandestinely) tied to an oil deal. Money and power always trump justice when it comes to the powers that be.

    July 8, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  4. Mario C. Chavez

    Convicted murderers should never get compasion for anything! When they decided to kill, they did not have compassion toward those they murdered including children. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi should have been left to rot in prison regardless of his medical condition.

    July 8, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  5. Nate

    Compassion? As a mass killer, where was his compassion for those individual lives? No, I dont believe in compassion for any murderer!

    July 8, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  6. Gregory Lawrence

    I think that convicted killers should always be treated with the same compassion that they had for their victims.

    July 8, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  7. Steve B.

    I think the lockerbrie bomber's "compassionate release" will have an impact on all other compassionate release prisoners. I think what should be done is taking this sick prisoner and put into a secure and controlled hospice area where they can monitor the prisoner's health. If he is within 24 hours of dying, that's when only then to be released to family to die at home.
    But if he gets better in the hospice, he should be sent right back to his cell where he belongs.

    July 8, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  8. marie

    Cancer treatments are very costly. Having those who support this killer's actions support his medical treatments is admirable and just.

    July 8, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  9. David

    Kyra, during this Lockerbie Bombers release, I heard reports that Scotland had some type of deal with Lybia, and this was the reason for this murderers early release. Everything always boils down to money, over human life. Shame on this government.

    July 8, 2010 at 9:04 am |
  10. Lara G.

    Kyra, the reason that the Lockerbie killer will most likely live another 10 years has nothing to do with a miracle. It's simply, that the doctor who gave him 3 months to live and the ticket out of jail, was wrong. None of his college have the courage to come forward and say so. Lara

    July 8, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  11. chuck

    Kyra,no way should this man be releist from prision,That would be like relseing a serial killer,You do such a crime you pay the time,spesly in this case,thank's kyra, Chuck from fl....................

    July 8, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  12. Carmel

    No way, just looking for more trouble, and is the doctor one of them or one of us? We are being taken over from within and integrity
    doesn't exist anymore, money and greed seems to be the underlying
    cause of all this country's present problems. It's time we got back
    to basics and to God. Carmel

    July 8, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  13. Richard

    He never should have been released. He should have stayed in jail to serve out his sentence. He did not show compassion for those victims, so he certainly should not have been shown mercy in this case.

    July 8, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  14. Hannah

    Why is it so difficult to believe that a person, even a convicted murderer, can learn from their mistakes and be remorseful over their actions? We all make mistakes and I would like to believe that the human condition will still allow compassion.

    July 8, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  15. MC

    Anyone who has ever been convicted of any kind of homicide should NEVER be allowed to be released on compassionate grounds. And in this case, there no absolutely no doubt that he killed all those poor people over Lockerbie. In this case, he should never have been allowed a life sentence in the first place only to make a deal for his early release on compassionate grounds. The doctor who gave him the 3 months prognosis should be stripped of his license and charged for lying. This is ridiculous to begin with. What kind of message are we sending to terrorists? Come on and bomb innocent civilians because you can always find a way to come back home after doing some time.

    July 8, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  16. Hanna S.

    I believe that the sin of murder is condemned the same as of any other sin. Only God can judge and he is merciful..even to sinners.

    July 8, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  17. moussa

    Is just crazy how they let him free just like that after kelling 270!but why they let him free?I think he was about gas and oil....some exchange!GOD is great

    July 8, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  18. Jenny

    Why are we not hearing about BP's involvement in this man being free? Why is THAT not being reported on the news? BP is the main reason this man is free, but most of the American public do not know this.

    July 8, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  19. Rosalind Warren


    For humankind's consciousness to rise, we must have compassion and work toward unconditional love.

    We don't have to love the behaviour, and don't have to invite anyone to tea, but I say, let's have an impersonal love for all life, The sooner the better!


    Ros Warren, Toronto

    July 8, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  20. Matt

    I understand the anger and pain, but compassion is what separates us from the killers. Compassion is what sets us above them. I'm not saying it's fair. But there is a difference between justice and vengeance. And forcing him to suffer to make us feel better about those lost to us is not justice, and it's not humane. Compassion is what keeps us from becoming them.

    July 8, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  21. Sailor23

    I believe that he should be held accountable for his actions, but i think being told you only have three weeks to live is punishment enough. You don't come back from death. I believe it is unfortunate that he was misdiagnosed and is now not serving his punishment, but I believe the correct decision was made with the information that was know at the time.

    July 8, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  22. Fridday Fungbahun

    Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi does not deserve to be release from prison regardless of his health issues. I will like to send my condolence to the victims' family.

    July 8, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  23. Steven

    To give a little context, while I absolutely abhor the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi is seen by many Muslims as either an innocent scapegoat or, even if guilty, as something of a heroic avenger for the July 1988 shooting-down of Iran Air flight 655 by a missile from the USS Vincennes. The Navy said it was an accident, but nonetheless 290 people, including 66 children, were killed.
    One act does not justify the other, but our focusing in the West only on "our" victims feeds the perception that we don't consider Arab, Persian or Muslim lives in general to be as valuable or worthwhile, and that perception only fans the flames of mistrust and hatred.

    July 8, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
  24. Tony Crispino

    I am a survivor of advanced prostate cancer and a national advocate for prostate cancer awareness. It is impossible for any doctor to predict when I or anyone might die of this disease. i know of no doctor that has that ability anywhere in the world. When I read about the release of this man, I laughed, but it was happiness. My first thought was, Britain has a government sponsored healthcare system. Is this the best care you can get? It was a bad prediction from the doctors attending to this guy. And it shows a serious flaw in Britain's healthcare system. But even worse, it shows why compassionate releases like this one are not a good idea.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:19 am |
  25. John Tyler Erie, Pa

    He should have been left in jail to rot whether or not he had cancer. Why show compassion for him he didn't show compassion for people on Pan Am flight 103. Everyone involved in his release should loose their jobs.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:41 am |