More bad news for Megrahi: Scottish probation officers are on his trail

 

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The Independent Online

Scottish justice officials have yet to make contact with freed Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. As intense fighting led to deteriorating communications with Tripoli, there is mounting speculation over the former intelligence officer's future under a new regime.

East Renfrewshire Council, which monitors the terms of his release, said it intended to speak to him. The council was in "uncharted waters", Jim Fletcher, the council leader, said.

"We're trying to track him down at the moment," Mr Fletcher said. "Our duty is to make sure he's in Libya. We're monitoring his whereabouts. If we can't track him, I don't know what we would do. We'd need to take advice from the Scottish Government."

The council's most recent contact with Megrahi was last week before rebels staged their attack on Tripoli. Under the terms of his release from Greenock Prison two years ago on compassionate grounds, senior probation officers have been in touch with him on a "regular" basis either via telephone or webcam link. He is one of 90 released prisoners the council monitors.

Among the seven conditions under the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993, Megrahi must inform his supervising officer of any change in his place of residence, provide a monthly report on his medical conditions and "be of good behaviour" and "keep the peace". He has also agreed not to travel outside Libya without his supervisors' permission. Failure to meet with these conditions could result in the revocation of his licence and a recall to custody, the agreement states.

If officers are unable to make contact with him in the coming days, then diplomats will be charged with seeking him out. The Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said bringing him back would be "extremely difficult". But the worsening security situation in Tripoli and Megrahi's high-profile support for Muammar Gaddafi make him vulnerable to political changes.

The 59-year-old is the only man to be convicted of the 1989 atrocity that claimed the lives of 270 people. Following his release, he was accompanied by Colonel Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam on a private jet from Glasgow to Tripoli where he was treated to a hero's welcome on his return – enraging international opinion.

The regime also granted him a large, secure villa close to the capital where he lives with his family and has access to state-of-the-art medical treatment for prostate cancer, which has seen him outlive the gloomy three-month prognosis given to him by Scottish doctors in 2009. Despite claims he was in a coma and close to death last December, Megrahi was pictured last month at a televised rally sitting beside Colonel Gaddafi.

US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney added his voice to growing calls for Western governments to use the current situation to extradite the mastermind behind the bombing and put them on trial.

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