EDINBURGH, Scotland – Scotland freed the Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds Thursday, allowing the terminally ill man to die in his homeland of Libya and rejecting American pleas for justice in the attack that killed 270 people.
The White House said it "deeply regrets" the Scottish decision, and U.S. family members immediately expressed outrage.
Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who had served only eight years of his life sentence, was recently given only months to live after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said although al-Megrahi had not shown compassion to his victims — many of whom were American college students flying home to New York for Christmas — MacAskill was motivated by Scottish values to show mercy.
Western energy companies — including Britain's BP PLC — have moved into Libya in an effort to tap the country's vast oil and gas wealth.