Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi has made his first public appearance since receiving a hero’s welcome on his return to Libya.

Megrahi, looking frail in a wheelchair, received a standing ovation from a group of African MPs in the hospital where he is receiving care for cancer.

But after five minutes he began to cough and signalled he wanted to leave.

The Scottish authorities freed Megrahi last month on compassionate grounds because he is terminally ill.

He is the only person to be convicted of the blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988, killing 270 people.

His release and subsequent welcome in Libya caused a political storm in the UK.

Opposition groups have accused the British government of tying his release to a trade deal.

Carefully orchestrated

The BBC’s Rana Jawad, in Tripoli, says a nurse wheeled Megrahi to a small stage in the lecture hall at the city’s medical centre.

He appeared to be frail, wearing a surgeon’s mask that covered most of his face and a colourful, sequined traditional skullcap, she says.

He remained silent in his wheelchair as he was greeted by about 40 African MPs who are in the country to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the African Union.

After he started coughing, he was immediately wheeled off the stage.

Our reporter says it seemed a carefully orchestrated event intended to send a signal to the Scottish, British and US governments.

Speaker of the African Union (AU) parliament Idriss Ndele Moussa, who is from Chad, said he and his colleagues had come to “express solidarity”.

“He is the victim of international injustice and a policy of double standards,” Mr Moussa said.

A Libyan member of the AU parliament, Mohamed Jibril, compared the welcome Megrahi received with that of a group of Bulgarian nurses who were convicted of infecting babies with HIV in Libya, but were pardoned in Europe.

“The visit by the African parliament to Mr Megrahi is no different from the reception given to the Bulgarian nurses by the European Parliament,” he said.

Source: BBC