Lockerbie bomber had secret £1.8m

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The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbasset Ali al-Megrahi, had £1.8m in a Swiss bank account when he was found guilty in 2001 of the murder of the 270 people aboard Pan Am flight 103, it has been claimed.

A sum of this size in the bank account of a man employed as head of security for an airline raises some big questions. Scotland's Crown Office seems to have thought so, apparently saying that the information about his assets was a factor in its decision in November last year to oppose his bail application.

The Scottish government sent al-Megrahi back to Tripoli in August on compassionate grounds, after the Libyan dropped his second appeal against his conviction for the 1988 bombing. He has terminal prostate cancer and was expected to have only three months to live.

A source close to al-Megrahi's defence team told The Sunday Times they knew of the bank account's existence and were ready with explanations prior to his trial in the Netherlands, including that the cash was to finance an attempt to enter Libya in the Paris-Dakar rally.

The source went on: "[The money] would have undermined his position as being a simple employee and that he had no big connections with anybody because someone with that status in life wouldn't have that kind of money in bank accounts."

The existence of the account became apparent too late for the prosecution to introduce it as evidence to the Camp Zeist trial, the The Sunday Times said.

Frank Duggan, president of the Victims of Pan Am 103, told the paper: "The latest revelations about the money in Megrahi's bank account are devastating to those who still say he was an innocent, low-level airline employee."