The familiar man who helped Megrahi from the plane

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PALE and unsteady, the suited figure of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi had to be helped down the steps as he returned to Libya late on Thursday night.

One of those assisting him, clutching his right arm, was a middle-aged man dressed in white and a brown waistcoat waving a Libyan flag in celebration. He bore more than passing resemblance to Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, the 53-year-old man who, eight years ago, had stood alongside Megrahi during their eight-month trial at Camp Zeist, in the Netherlands.

Unlike Megrahi, Fhimah had been acquitted on all charges when the pair had stood in the dock in 2001.

Speaking to The Scotsman afterwards, Fhimah said he had hoped he would one day to see Megrahi back in Libya. On Thursday night, it appears he may have been one of the first Libyans to do so.

The pair first met when Fhimah applied for a job with Libyan Arab airlines. Megrahi was on the interview panel deciding who should get the job.

The pair spent two years together in Camp Zeist, sharing a specially built home near the courtroom as they awaited their fate. They last saw each other after the trial, when Fhimah went back to the Camp to pick up his luggage. "We were crying to each other. I said, 'God help you'," Fhimah told The Scotsman.

Fhimah, who has five children, now lives in Tripoli.

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