Scottish govt. checks on Lockerbie bomber

August 29, 2011 04:02 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 03:40 am IST - LONDON

Libyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, gestures on his arrival in Tripoli, Libya. File photo

Libyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, gestures on his arrival in Tripoli, Libya. File photo

Officials overseeing the parole of the Libyan man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing have had contact with his family and believe he remains at his Tripoli home where he is dying of prostate cancer, Scotland’s government said Monday.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 over the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people. He was freed from a Scottish jail on compassionate grounds in August 2009, after he developed prostate cancer and doctors estimated he had three months to live.

Since Libya’s opposition advanced into Tripoli last week, probation officials in Scotland had been seeking to confirm al-Megrahi’s whereabouts. Under the terms of his release from prison, the convicted bomber must live at his home in the Libyan capital and provide a monthly report on his medical condition.

“Over the course of the weekend, there has been contact through Mr. al-Megrahi’s family. There was no evidence of a breach of his license conditions, and his medical condition is consistent with someone suffering from terminal prostate cancer,” Scotland’s government said in a statement.

East Renfrewshire Council, the local authority responsible for ensuring al-Megrahi complies with the terms of his release, said that officials had received an email over the weekend from al-Megrahi’s family confirming details of his whereabouts and condition.

Council spokesman George Barbour said the authority was able to confirm the authenticity of the message, but declined to provide detail of the contents or say whether it included photographs of al-Megrahi or other evidence of his condition.

New York senators have asked Libya’s transitional government to hold al-Megrahi fully accountable for the Pan Am bombing. His release after serving eight years of a life sentence infuriated the families of many Lockerbie victims.

Some suspect his release was motivated by Britain’s attempts to improve relations with oil-rich Libya - though the decision was sanctioned by authorities in Scotland, not London.

Last month, al-Megrahi appeared at a televised rally in Tripoli alongside the Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi.

Scotland’s semiautonomous government criticized those who had suggested that al-Megrahi may not be terminally ill.

“Speculation about al-Megrahi in recent days has been unhelpful, unnecessary and indeed ill-informed,” the government said in its statement. “As has always been said, al-Megrahi is dying of a terminal disease, and matters regarding his medical condition should really be left there.”

However, it said that any change in al-Megrahi’s health would likely be a “a matter for discussion with the National Transitional Council.”

British diplomats in London have confirmed that they plan talks with Libya’s opposition in the coming weeks on al-Megrahi’s situation, and will ask rebel leaders to help the suspect to continue to comply with the Scottish government’s monitoring regime.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell told BBC radio that it now appeared certain that the bomber’s life was “drawing to a close.”

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