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Man Acquitted of Pan Am Flight 103 Bombing Returns to Libya

Aired February 1, 2001 - 4:36 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: The Lybian agent convicted of the Lockerbie bombing began serving a life term in prison today and his alleged accomplice, who was acquitted, returned home to a hero's welcome.

From the Libyan capital, Tripoli, CNN's Brent Sadler reports on a show of defiance in the land of Colonel Gadhafi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Setting foot on Libyan soil after nearly two years in detention, cleared of the Lockerbie bombing, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah steps off a military transport plane and celebrates freedom. The former manager of the Libyan airways office in Malta, where the Lockerbie bomb originated, punches the air in triumph, sweeping through a chaotic crush of cameras to reach family and friends.

Escorted by police and carloads of ecstatic supporters, the authorities here wasted no time in capitalizing on this hectic homecoming, tearing through the streets of Tripoli at the request of Libya's leader, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi. The man cleared of murdering 270 people was given a warm welcome. It took place inside a high- security compound bombed by U.S. warplanes in 1986, the nerve center of Gadhafi's rule, where he keeps a memorial to Libya's 37 dead from that raid.

Turning on the Lockerbie verdict, with Khalifa Fhimah at his side, Colonel Gadhafi claims he'll make revelations Monday proving the convicted Libyan's innocence. Once they're known, he taunts the Scottish judges, they should either commit suicide, he says, resign or admit the truth. Gaghafi's remarks seem to turn recent conciliatory official statements from here on their head.

Asked if he would accept responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and consider compensation, Gadhafi insists it's the Libyan victims of the U.S. air strikes who deserve justice and compensation.

(on camera): While one Libyan has returned home, another, the convicted bomber of Pan Am 103, starts a life prison sentence.

(voice-over): It seems unlikely, though, given the U.S. and British stands towards ongoing sanctions against Gadhafi's Libya, that the repercussions from the Lockerbie tragedy will end anytime soon. Brent Sadler, CNN, Tripoli.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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