What looked to be a hero's welcome on Thursday for convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al Megrahi when he arrived in Tripoli, Libya was duly noted by the families of the victims of Pan Am 103 and added to their outrage that he was released by the Scottish government because he has terminal cancer.
From the Associated Press:
The only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing returned home Thursday to a cheering crowd after his release from a Scottish prison -- an outrage to many relatives of the 270 people who perished when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded.
The BBC adds that "Britain and the US have strongly condemned the jubilant welcome given in Libya to the man convicted of the bombing of a US plane over Lockerbie. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband described the scenes as 'deeply distressing.' "
The celebratory scene had to be what Scottish authorities feared as they deliberated on whether to release Megrahi.
It definitely played in the minds of the Obama administration, which had asked Libya not to have an elaborate welcome for Megrahi.
Libyan officials may have been aware there would be a problem. This morning, the AP writes:
Libya appeared on Friday to be trying to downplay the return of the Lockerbie bomber, keeping him out of the public eye and making little official mention of him, amid outrage by families of the U.S. victims and a warning by President Barack Obama not to give him a hero's welcome. ...
Even as al-Megrahi descended from the airplane, Libya seemed to quickly scale down its planned more elaborate welcome. Hundreds in the crowd were rushed away by authorities and the arrival was not aired live on state TV.