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Gadhafi offers Lockerbie evidence

TRIPOLI, Libya -- The man cleared of the Lockerbie bombing received a hero's home-coming led by Colonel Moammar Gadhafi who says he has new evidence that the Libyan convicted of the massacre is innocent.

As Abdel Baset Ali Mohamed Al-Megrahi faced a life sentence for the mass murder of 270 people in 1988, his freed co-accused flew into Libya.

Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah punched the air and shouted "Allahu akbar" (God is great), after touching down at 5 p.m. local time (1500 GMT) on Thursday.

He was greeted by the Libyan leader who said he would reveal evidence on Monday that will show that Megrahi is innocent.

Gadhafi said: "When I speak, there will be three choices in front of the judges: either to commit suicide or to resign or to admit the truth.

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"I have proven evidence that he is innocent and I will reveal the evidence on Monday."

He also said he would be seeking compensation for the families of those killed in the 1986 U.S. air force raid on Tripoli. The victims included Gadhafi's adopted daughter.

"We must not forget the victims of the 1986 massacre," Gadhafi said.

"What do courts have to say about these victims? What do the United Nations and America have to say about them? Are these victims human beings or cattle?"

Earlier, a crowd of about 100 family and friends met and embraced Fhimah on the tarmac of a military airfield outside Tripoli.

As he emerged from his aircraft, his supporters shouted: "Justice has triumphed! Down with America."

Fhimah had spent the night in a secret location following his acquittal by the three-judge Scottish court sitting at Camp Zeist, in the Netherlands.

Megrahi, 48, remains at Camp Zeist where it is believed he is preparing an appeal against the verdict.

On Wednesday, the judges recommended that he serve at least 20 years of the mandatory life sentence in a Scottish prison before being eligible for parole.

Meanwhile, Colin Boyd, Lord Advocate of Scotland who led the prosecution team, said it was “clear” that Megrahi did not act alone.

"He was convicted of committing murder while acting along with others and in the furtherance of the purposes of the Libyan intelligence services," Boyd said.

He said, however, that the authorities were unable to press charges against anybody else due to a lack of evidence but added this would be re-assessed if new evidence emerged.

After the 84-day trial, Libya demanded a complete lifting of U.N. sanctions imposed in 1992 -- a call was backed by the 22-member state Arab League.

But President George W. Bush said the U.S. still holds Libya accountable for the bombing and both the U.S. and Britain have said any lifting of sanctions would not be a quick process as several demands still had to be fulfilled.

Jeremy Greenstock, the British U.N. ambassador, said the main focus of future discussions between the United States, Britain and Libya would be on compensation and the Libyan Government accepting responsibility for the actions of its officials.

In a separate development, relatives of those that died when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, on December 21, 1988, held a press conference in London.

The U.K. Families Flight 103 welcomed Wednesday's verdict but said too many questions and inconsistencies remain. They urged the British government to launch a public inquiry.

"I am not questioning the verdict but I am saying it does leave many unanswered questions and many loose ends," said Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter, Flora, in the bombing and who collapsed following the verdicts.

"There is a lot of work still to be done. (Megrahi) cannot have done it on his own."

The verdicts: Court timeline
January 31, 2001
Lockerbie bomber jailed to life
January 31, 2001
Lockerbie divided over verdict
January 31, 2001
Lockerbie relatives' relief at conviction
January 31, 2001

Lockerbie Trial Briefing Site
Libya online
United Nations Security Council
The Scottish Law Commission

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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