Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing over Scotland, which killed 270 people, has died at home in Libya, his brother said Sunday.
Megrahi, 59, was convicted by a special Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands in 2001.
He was released from prison in Scotland in 2009 on compassionate grounds. He was suffering from cancer and was said to have only months to live. The release outraged relatives of the Pan Am Flight 103 victims, and he lived for another three years.
When he returned to the Libyan capital, he received a hero's welcome from Col. Moammar Gadhafi's regime.
The former intelligence officer, who had suffered from prostate cancer, will be buried Monday, the Foreign Ministry said.
His brother, announcing al Megrahi's death, said the family refers to the deceased as 'the convicted innocent.' He added, May God bless his soul.
I know exactly where he is, and I know it is quite hot. I'm sure he and Gaddafi are reunited again, Carole Johnson, who lost her daughter Beth Ann in the 1988 attack, told The Guardian.
Speaking from her home in Greensburg, Pa., Johnson said the death of Megrahi provided no closure to her grief, but it did mark the end of a chapter.
Johnson, 68, is one of many victims' relatives in America who woke today to the news that Megrahi had died. Her reaction: This is three years too late.
Frank Duggan, president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, said, He was an unrepentant murderer and now I hope he will finally see justice.
In Pennsylvania, Glenn Johnson, whose daughter died on the flight, told the Associated Press he feels some relief, but says Megrahi's release was a political deal. He was surprised the man lived so long with cancer.
The reaction was radically different in Scotland, where many victims' relatives believe Megrahi was innocent or merely a player in a larger conspiracy.
David Ben-Ayreah, a spokesman for the victims of Lockerbie families, told the Guardian Megrahi's death was something to be deeply regretted. As someone who attended the trial I have never taken the view that Megrahi was guilty. Megrahi is the 271st victim of Lockerbie.
I've always been clear he should never have been released from prison, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday at the NATO summit in Chicago, CNN reported. Megrahi was freed under the previous Labour government.
Today is a day to remember the 270 people who lost their lives in what was an appalling terrorist act, Cameron said. Our thoughts should be with them and their families for the suffering they've had.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond issued a statement saying, Our first thoughts are with the families of the Lockerbie atrocity, whose pain and suffering has been ongoing now for over 23 years.
Megrahi's death puts to rest some of the conspiracy theories which have attempted to suggest that his illness was somehow manufactured -- today's news confirms what we have always said about his medical condition, Salmond said.
He added that the Lockerbie case remains a live investigation, and Scotland's criminal justice authorities have made clear that they will rigorously pursue any new lines of inquiry.
And Salmond insisted that despite widespread criticism of the decision, extensive scrutiny has found that Scotland released Megrahi on compassionate grounds alone, CNN reported.
Megrahi's brother Abdulhakim said Sunday that his health had deteriorated quickly and he died at home in Tripoli, the BBC reported. He told the AFP news agency that Megrahi died at 1 p.m. local time.
Last month, Megrahi's son said his father had been taken to hospital for blood transfusions.
Shortly before being freed, Megrahi dropped his second appeal against his conviction.
Last August, after Gadhafi's fall, Megrahi was reported to be in and out of a coma at his home in Tripoli.
There were been calls for him to be returned to jail in the U.K. or tried in the U.S. But shortly after they toppled Gadhafi, Libyan rebel leaders said they would not extradite Megrahi or any other Libyan.
After his release, he kept a strict silence, living in the family villa surrounded by high walls in a posh Tripoli neighborhood, mostly bedridden or taking a few steps with a cane. Libyan authorities sealed him off from public access. When the first anniversary of his release passed, Megrah bitterly told visitors that the world was rooting for him to die.
His son, Khaled Megrahi, confirmed that he died in Tripoli in a telephone interview but hung up before giving more details, the Associated Press reported.
To the last, Megrahi insisted he had nothing to do with the bombing, which killed 270 people, most of them Americans.
I am an innocent man, Megrah said in his last interview, published in several British papers in December. I am about to die and I ask now to be left in peace with my family.
This man was a horrible man, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday in an interview with CNN. 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 only legacy we have is in the memory of all those who were lost, Schumer added. We have to just make sure we continue this battle against terrorism on airplanes. We made great progress and we have to keep it up.
The fall of Gadhafi in August - and his death two months later - has so far done nothing to dispel the mysteries that surround the case even after Megrahi's conviction. The U.S., Britain, and prosecutors in his trial contended that he did not act alone and carried out the bombing at the behest of Libyan intelligence. After Gadhafi's fall, Britain asked Libya's new rulers to help fully investigate but they put off any probe for the forseeable future.
They also rejected Western pressure to jail or return al-Megrahi.
Megrahi's death may make it impossible ever to get the full story behind the Lockerbie bombing.
In an interview with Reuters last October, Megrahi said the truth will come out one day, and hopefully in the near future. He vowed that new facts would come to light.
Libya was not the first suspect in the bombing, the BBC notes.
Early evidence pointed to a Palestinian terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, allegedly working on behalf of Iran. The motive was said to be retaliation for the shooting down of an Iranian passenger jet by an American warship, the USS Vincennes, in the Persian Gulf in July 1988 with the loss of 290 lives.
In October 1988, two months before the bombing, West German police raided flats near Frankfurt where the PFLP-GC was preparing bombs in Toshiba radio cassette players, similar to the one used in the Lockerbie bombing.
But it was forensic science in Scotland that cast doubt on the theory of Iranian revenge and ensured that suspicion instead fell on Libya.
From the Solway Firth to the North Sea, the bombing left debris strewn over 845 square miles - yet the key piece of evidence was a fragment of circuit board no bigger than a fingernail.
The circumstances of its discovery and its subsequent handling are controversial, but experts said it was part of the timer for the bomb and was wrapped in a scrap of clothing from a shop on Malta, the Mediterranean island between Italy and Libya.