Lockerbie bomber 'expected to die within days'

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The Independent Online

The Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing and freed amid controversy last year after being diagnosed with cancer is in a coma and expected to die within days, according to reports.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is said to have been put on a life support machine at a Tripoli hospital after a rapid deterioration of his health, with doctors saying there was no chance of recovery.

Using unnamed family members as their source, Sky News reported that Megrahi had lost his power of speech some weeks ago before losing consciousness in the last few weeks.

A source quoted by Sky said: "He is on life support and has been for some days. Many people have been waiting for him to die. That day is coming very soon. Every day, his loved ones expect it to be his last."

Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted by Scottish judges sitting without a jury at a specially constituted court near Utrecht in Holland for blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland, killing 270 people, in 1988.

Many observers, including members of bereaved families, had held that the conviction, on the evidence presented, was unsound and was the result of political expediency.

However, Megrahi’s release from Greenock prison on compassionate grounds after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, led to severe recriminations with condemnation from the US led by the Obama administration.

US diplomatic cables, released by WikiLeaks, revealed British government apprehension that the Libyan government would take “harsh and immediate action”, including cancelling lucrative financial deals, if Megrahi was no released prior to his death. Jack Straw, then Home Secretary, and the Scottish government denied that the release was due to threats from the Gadaffi regime.

Last week Col Gadaffi said Megrahi’s family would be suing over his "neglect" in Greenock Prison. Speaking to students in London via a video link, he said: "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."

Megrahi dropped his appeal against conviction in order to obtain release on compassionate grounds. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) refused today to disclose what information had made it decide that Megrahi’s appeal to go to a second hearing before it was abandoned.