London: The scenes of the Lockerbie bomber being welcomed home in Libya as a hero were "deeply upsetting, deeply distressing”, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Friday.
And he warned Libya that its treatment of Megrahi could have serious diplomatic repercussions.
"Obviously the sight of a mass murderer getting a hero's welcome in Tripoli is deeply upsetting, deeply distressing," above all for the families of the 270 people killed in the 1988 atrocity over Scotland, Miliband told BBC radio.
"It's very important that Libya knows .. that how the Libyan government handles itself in the next few days ... will be very significant in the way the world views Libya's re-entry into the civilised community of nations," he said.
But Miliband, speaking a day after Megrahi was released on compassionate ground by the Scottish government, would not be drawn on whether that was the right decision, saying it was a matter for the Scottish Justice Minister.
"We will not interfere in this case. .. and we are not going to interfere," he said, underlining that the decision had been taken by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in a quasi-judicial role.
Ignoring a US warning against a "hero's welcome”, hundreds of young people waving Libyan and Scottish flags greeted the aircraft carrying Megrahi as it landed in Tripoli amid heavy security late Thursday.
The 57-year-old Libyan, the only person to be convicted over the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, was released as he has terminal prostate cancer and could have less than three months to live.
First Published: Friday, August 21, 2009, 15:48