TRIPOLI, LIBYA (WSYR-TV) - Convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi died on Sunday of cancer at the age of 60. That is according to a relative in Libya.
Al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence official, was convicted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town on December 21, 1988.
The bombing killed 270 people, including 35 students from Syracuse University who were on their way home for Christmas break. Students from Colgate, Cornell and SUNY Oswego, along with a couple from the Town of Clay also died in the bombing.
Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi handed over al-Megrahi and a second suspect to Scottish authorities after years of punishing U.N. sanctions.
In 2003, Gadhafi acknowledged responsibility, though not guilt, for the bombing and paid compensation of about $2.7 billion to victims' families.
When he was released to Libya from a Scottish prison in 2009 on humanitarian grounds he was supposedly close to death. But al-Megrahi lived far longer than the few months the doctors had believed, outraging victim’s family members.
“It is just appalling that he got to die in Libya with his family around him and my daughter and the other people in the plane, Syracuse students, died horrible deaths when they were young people with their lives ahead of them,” said Susan Cohen, the mother of a 20-year-old victim.
New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand both condemn what was called a release on "compassionate grounds."
“This man was a horrible man, Al Megrahi,” said New York Senator Charles Schumer. “It would have been better had he not died in freedom, but died in prison. That's what he deserved, and I still believe that the Scottish government perhaps with the participation of the British government created a major injustice when they let him out.”
“The deaths of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi and Muammar Gaddafi brings to a close the total miscarriage of justice that needlessly brought more pain to the families of Pan Am Flight 103,” said New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a statement. “While this will never heal the pain of the horrific day that took so many innocent lives, I hope this will bring families the comfort that Mr. Megrahi is no longer living free as a hero for his act of terror."
Cohen said that although Megrahi and Gaddafi are both dead, it is still important to continue the investigation into the 1988 bombing and bring others involved to justice.
“Al-Megrahi's death does not give me any sense of closure,” said Cohen. “I don't believe in closure. I don't think it exists.”
The Scottish Government's First Minister Alex Salmond said in a statement that the Lockerbie investigation is ongoing and Scottish officials are cooperating with the new Libyan authorities in their investigations.