Release the Lockerbie bomber, says priest who was almost a victim

A PRIEST who witnessed the aftermath of the Lockerbie bombing yesterday called for the man convicted of it to be freed.

Father Patrick Keegan, 62, said he believed Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who has prostate cancer, was innocent and should be freed on compassionate grounds before an appeal against his conviction.

"I wrote to Mr Megrahi offering him my support, telling him that I was convinced he was innocent, and that I would willingly offer support to him and his family," said Fr Keegan, who was living in Lockerbie at the time of the bombing, just yards from where a wing section of the Pan Am flight crashed in 1988.

Describing the Libyan and his family as "victims" of the bombing, Fr Keegan said he believed there had been a mellowing of opinion, even among those previously convinced of his guilt.

Fr Keegan spoke out during the launch of the "Justice for Megrahi" campaign, to lobby for the release of Megrahi on compassionate grounds. The group includes Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was one of the victims of the bombing.