Al-Megrahi's wife nears end of her Scottish exile

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The Independent Online

For much of the past seven years an Arab woman has regularly made the 40 mile journey from a cottage in the Scottish town of Newton Mears to the gates of Greenock prison to visit the only man to be convicted for Britain's worst terrorist atrocity – her husband.

Aisha al-Megrahi moved to Scotland with her three youngest sons in 2002 shortly after Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was convicted of being behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

But if his compassionate release is granted as reports suggest it will not just be the Libyan former secret service agent who will be able to return to his home country. While al-Megrahi has served his life sentence, slowly succumbing to terminal prostate cancer, his 47-year-old wife has also lead a semi-incarcerated existence in the house, which was paid for by a charity run by Colonel Gaddafi's UK-educated son, Saif al Islam.

For a time the couple's three young sons attended a local primary school, while their elder brother and sister remained in Libya. But in 2005 the al-Megrahis sent their sons home after the Government made it clear they would not be entitled to free education in Britain. Apart from the odd visit from her children, Mrs al-Megrahi has largely lived alone with her guards and is allowed to see her husband for an hour and a half each week.