Lockerbie bomber to sue over prison 'neglect'

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The family of the Lockerbie bomber is to sue over his "neglect" in a Scottish jail, Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi has said.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was freed from Greenock prison on compassionate grounds last year after being diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

The Libyan was sentenced to life in jail after his conviction for the murder of 270 people in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland.

He returned to his home country where he is said to be "very ill".

Colonel Gaddafi spoke about the bomber to staff and students at the London School of Economics over a video link on Thursday.

According to reports, he told them: "His health was not looked after in prison. He didn't have any periodic examination. I wish him a long life.

"After he passes away, his family will demand compensation because he was deliberately neglected in prison."

The decision to free Megrahi, taken by Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, sparked fury in the US and was condemned by President Barack Obama's administration.

Meanwhile a group of campaigners in the UK is calling for an independent inquiry into his conviction.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government do not doubt the conviction of al-Megrahi.

"He was given the same high standard of NHS care as any other prisoner."

The statement was echoed by a Scottish Prison Service spokesman, who said: "He received the high standard of NHS care that anybody else would get in the prison system."

Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the bombing, told Real Radio: "When I last met Gaddafi, which was in September this year, he did express the concept that Libya wanted the verdict to be re-examined on the grounds that it was influenced by politics rather than justice, and one has to remember in Libya what Gaddafi says happens, because of course he is by definition a dictator.

"I do think it's very important from the point of view of Megrahi's family that they are given the opportunity of clearing their name, if in fact the verdict is invalid.

"The sad thing about all this is I don't think he's proposing anything would be done until after Megrahi's died and I understand he is very much worse than when he was when I last met him.

"I think the fact that Gaddafi has put his name to this thought is in itself very encouraging because he has of course got virtually unlimited financial resources which are needed to mount major legal cases, and that means the family are probably going to be supported if they go down this route and that would be very welcome because we so very strongly believe this verdict should be re-examined because of the failings there appear to have been in the way it was reached."