Lockerbie bomber freed to die now lives in a luxury villa
Published 21/02/2010 | 05:00
The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing is living in a villa in Libya half a year after he was released from jail on compassionate grounds because he had less than three months to live.
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, no longer receives hospital treatment after ending the chemotherapy that he had been given after returning to his homeland last August. He is with his family in a luxurious home.
Prof Karol Sikora, the London-based doctor who examined Megrahi and predicted he would be dead by last October, admitted this weekend that the fact that the bomber is still alive might be "difficult" for the families of those who died in the attack.
The bomb blast in December 1988, when Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killed 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 people on the ground. Most of the relatives did not want Megrahi released and wish his medical records to be published to see why it was predicted he would not live longer than three months.
It was revealed last September that the Libyan government had paid for the medical evidence which helped Megrahi, 57, to be set free.
Under Scottish rules, prisoners can be freed on compassionate grounds only if they are considered to have three months,or less, to live.
Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice minister, ruled last August that Megrahi should be freed.
His release came after Libyan leaders warned that lucrative oil and trade deals with Britain would be cancelled if he died in jail.
One leading prostate cancer specialist cast serious doubt yesterday on the wisdom of predicting that Megrahi had three months to live -- when the patient still had to undergo chemotherapy.
Dr Chris Parker said it was extremely difficult to give an accurate prognosis for individual patients. "Studies show experts are very poor at trying to predict how long an individual patient will live for," he warned.
Megrahi received the chemotherapy drug Docetaxel shortly after returning to Libya. Dr Parker, of the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, said: "The average prognosis for survival after Docetaxel would be 12 months. It can vary enormously but it would be very unusual to live beyond two years."
Megrahi is living in a spacious two-storey villa with his wife and five grown-up children in a prosperous suburb of Tripoli. The property has a large garden and an area where the family erects a tent to entertain visitors. The property has a security gate and there is often a uniformed police officer outside.
The Megrahis, part of a prominent tribe, are well off and it is understood the family was paid substantial compensation by the Libyan government after he was jailed for life. They are known to have urged Col Muammar Gaddaffi, the Libyan leader, to get Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, freed.
Doctors in Libya supply monthly medical reports to Scottish authorities, who can speak to Megrahi. The conditions of his early release stipulate he must not leave Libya.
Prof Sikora was one of the examining doctors who was paid a consultancy fee last July to examine Megrahi. He is reported as saying this weekend: "My information from Tripoli is that it's not going to be long (before Megrahi dies). They stopped any active treatment in December and he has just been going downhill very slowly at home. He is on high doses of morphine (a painkiller) and it's any day now." Prof Sikora said he suspected Megrahi was still alive because he had received a "psychological" boost from returning home.