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Timeline: Megrahi release

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 01 September 2009

Channel 4 News looks back at the events surrounding the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi.

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi (picture: Getty Images)

1988
21 Dec: A bomb explodes in the cargo hold on PanAm flight 103 from London to New York in the skies above Scotland. All 259 people on board die and a further 11 people are killed by the flaming wreckage in the town of Lockerbie.

1991
17 Nov: After establishing a link between the bomb on board flight 103 and Libya, American and Scottish authorities issue arrest warrants for Abdel Basset al-Megrahi and Al Lameen Khalifa Fhima, who both had access to secure areas at Valetta airport in Malta, where evidence suggested the bomb began its journey.

1992
18 Feb: A Libyan judge refuses to extradite Megrahi and Fhimah.

2000
3 May: The trial of Megrahi and Fhimah begins under Scottish law in the Netherlands.

2001
1 Feb: Megrahi is convicted of murdering 270 people but Fhimah is acquitted.

2002
14 Mar: An appeal by Megrahi is rejected and he begins a life sentence with a minimum term of 20 years.

2003
24 Nov: Judges increase the minimum term of Megrahi's life sentence to 27 years.

2007
29 May: Libya and Britain start work on a prisoner transfer agreement.

28 Jun: Megrahi is told he can appeal against his conviction.

2008
Sep: Megrahi is diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

1 Nov: Megrahi's solicitor Tony Kelly suggests his client could remain in Scotland for cancer treatment if he is released.

14 Nov: Lord Justice General, Lord Hamilton refuses Megrahi's appeal because he was not "suffering material pain or disability".

2009
28 Apr: Megrahi launches another appeal against his conviction.

29 Apr: Britain and Libya complete prisoner transfer agreement and Megrahi's case is not omitted.  

18 Aug: Megrahi drops his appeal.

19 Aug: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes it clear she believes Megrahi should remain in prison.

20 Aug: Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill decides to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown sends a letter to Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi asking for Megrahi's return to be treated sensitively.

US President Barack Obama says Megrahi should be placed under house arrest in Libya.

21 Aug: Megrahi is cheered and Scottish flags are waved as he returns to Libya.

22 Aug: FBI director Robert Mueller criticises Megrahi's release.

23 Aug: Former first minister Jack McConnell says Megrahi's release brought "shame" on Scotland.

24 Aug: the Scottish parliament is recalled and Justice Secretary MacAskill explains the process behind his decision to release Megrahi.

30 Aug: Channel 4 News foreign correspondent Jonathan Miller is allowed to see Megrahi on his sickbed in hospital.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw denies Megrahi's release was part of an oil deal.

31 Aug: With criticism mounting, Justice Secretary MacAskill defends his decision to release Megrahi.

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