British and Scottish governments are facing allegations over the controversial release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohammed al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, following reports that the medical evidence which influenced the decision to free him was “paid for” by Libya.
Mr. Megrahi, who was serving a life-sentence in a Scottish jail for his role in the crash of a London-New York flight over Lockerbie in December 1988 killing 270 people, was released last month on compassionate grounds after doctors said his prostate cancer was in such an advanced stage that he had less than three months to live.
Under Scottish rules, a prisoner can be released if he or she is not expected to live beyond three months.
Mr. Megrahi was examined by three doctors — two British and one Libyan. It is claimed that the Libyan doctor and one of his British peers were paid for by Libya. Both said Mr. Megrahi had less than three months to live, while the third (the one paid for by the Scottish government) was less specific simply stating that he had a “short time to live”.
The Sunday Telegraph, which made the claim in a front-page splash, named Karol Sikora, Medical Director of CancerPartners, U.K., as one of the British doctors paid by Tripoli. He told the newspaper that the “figure of three months was suggested as being helpful” by the Libyans. “To start with I said it was impossible to do that but when I looked at it as though it could be done — you could actually say that,” he said.
Prof. Sikora insisted that he and his Libyan counterpart had “legitimately” estimated Mr. Megrahi’s life expectancy as “about three months”.
Mr. Megrahi’s release has been dogged by allegations that the decision was part of a “deal” with Libya to help British oil companies get business contracts in the oil-rich country. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Scottish government have angrily rejected the allegations.