Megrahi's mother makes plea for release

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THE Lockerbie bomber's 95-year-old mother has made an emotional appeal for her son to return to Libya.

The frail woman directed her plea to Scottish ministers, saying: "Please send my son home."

Hajja Fatma Ali al-Araibi has not been told her son has terminal cancer because her other children fear the shock will be too great.

She also revealed that her son, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, phoned her at the end of last week to say he hoped to be home for the start of Ramadan on Friday.

She said he had been called from Greenock prison, where he is serving a 27-year sentence for mass murder, and said to her: "I hope by Ramadan I will be with you."

It was revealed last week that Megrahi will drop his appeal against his conviction for blowing up Pan Am Flight 103, at a court hearing on Tuesday.

In the meantime, justice secretary Kenny MacAskill is said to be considering releasing him on compassionate grounds, perhaps even before the end of the week.

Mrs Araibi appealed for Mr MacAskill to release her "scapegoat" son and said she could not wait to "run out to the street and hug him so tight".

She said: "I do not close the house door at all. I am expecting him to enter at any moment. For 11 years I have not spent the holy month of Ramadan with him. I am waiting for that day when he comes back."

Mrs Araibi said she was surrounded by family members as the news of her son's possible release broke last week, including Megrahi's elder brother, Mohammed Ali, and several grandchildren.

Sending a message to the relatives of the 270 victims of Pan Am Flight 103, she said: "We told them that my son was innocent, that he would not slaughter a chicken at home."

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