Allegations that the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the ailing Lockerbie bomber, was part of a commercial deal with Libya to help British oil companies obtain Libyan business contracts have been reignited following suggestions that his condition may not have been as serious as it was officially claimed to justify the decision to free him on compassionate grounds.
Mr. Megrahi’s father was reported as saying that his son, who has terminal prostate cancer, was “getting better by the day” since he returned home 10 days ago after being released from a Scottish jail where he was serving a life sentence for his role in the crash of a London-New York flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988 killing 270 people.
Releasing him on August 20, the Scottish government stated that it had acted on medical advice that Mr. Megrahi had less than three months to live. Under Scottish law, a prisoner can be freed on compassionate grounds if the prognosis is that he would not live for more than three months.
However, his father’s remarks and claims by several British experts that Mr. Megrahi could “easily” live for another year have been seized by critics who insist that Mr. Megrahi was released in order to further British business interests in Libya.
It is alleged that a £15-billion oil deal for BP (British Petroleum) was at the heart of a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya to facilitate Mr. Megrahi’s release. Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam, too, has claimed that Mr. Megrahi’s release was always “on the table in all commercial, oil and gas agreements” with Britain.
The British government has denied these allegations but is under growing pressure to disclose the full facts. Opposition parties have called for an inquiry into what they allege was a “terrorist-for-trade deal”.