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'I am clean' says jailed Megrahi

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, convicted of murdering 270 people in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, has always insisted he is innocent.

In a 1991 television interview shown during the trial, Megrahi told the interviewer: "I am clean in my life."

He insisted that he had not been in Malta on the day the bomb began its journey from the island's airport to Heathrow via Frankfurt.

And he strenuously denied ever having been a member of the Libyan intelligence agency, saying his family and countrymen would be "ashamed" to do such a job.

However three Scottish judges accepted that Megrahi was a member of the Libyan Intelligence Services (JSO) occupying posts of a "fairly high rank" and had planted the bomb on Pan Am flight 103.

Although Megrahi has sat on the FBI's "most wanted" list for ten years -- the agency claimed he used up to nine aliases -- little beyond the bare facts are known about him.

Born in Tripoli on April 1 1952, Megrahi's first language was Arabic but he also speaks good English having studied in the United States and, he claims, the United Kingdom.

He describes himself as the former director of Centre for Strategic Studies and, at the time of the bombing, the chief of airline security for the Libyan Arab Airlines in Malta.

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According to British newspapers he has a wife Aisha, with a 15-year-old son Khaleb and 16-year-old daughter Ghada attending the trial.

It was a few scraps of clothing that brought international investigators to Megrahi's door following the blast which killed all 259 passengers and 11 people in the village below.

The remains of a blue baby's romper suit, an umbrella and adult clothes amid the wreckage were identified as being having used to wrap the bomb and traced to a small shop on the Mediterranean island.

Shopkeeper Tony Gauci's positive identification of Megrahi as the purchaser of the clothing was vital to securing the conviction the judges said in their ruling.

U.S. and British investigators first indicted Megrahi, together with Al Amin Khalifa Firmah who was found not guilty, in 1991.

He was then forced him to stay in Tripoli under house arrest during years of international wrangling.

Finally in April 1999 the pair were handed over for trial after the conditions were established for them to be tried in the Netherlands under Scottish law.

On Wednesday as this legal process came to a climax and he heard himself sentenced to life in prison in Glasgow, Scotland, not eligible for release before 20 years, Megrahi betrayed no emotion.

However his lawyer, Bill Taylor, said later that he still denies having any involvement.

"He maintains his innocence, so there is nothing I can say by way of mitigation."



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The verdicts: Court timeline
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RELATED SITES:
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