DCSIMG

'They killed me in prison a million times. So what more do they want?'

CRITICS of the controversial decision to release the Lockerbie bomber have said he should consider himself lucky to be free, after he complained about his time in Greenock Prison.

• Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi hides his face as he boards the plane that took him to freedom in Libya last year Picture: PA

Reacting in Libya to continued outrage over his release a year ago, on the basis that he had just three months to live, Abdel-baset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi said: "They want to quicken my death. Is it up to me?

"They killed me in prison a million times, denied as I was from seeing my children and family. So what more do they want?"

However, yesterday Scottish Conservative deputy leader Murdo Fraser pointed out that the bomber had served less than two weeks in prison for each of his victims.

Megrahi continues to claim that he is innocent of the murders, the worst atrocity in British legal history, but Mr Fraser said that if this was the case, the Libyan should have continued with his appeal.

"There was no need for Megrahi to drop his appeal, " he said. "Under the terms of compassionate release he was at liberty to continue to appeal his conviction.

"It is hard to believe that he really thinks he is innocent when he dropped his appeal."

Mr Fraser suggested that Megrahi should stop complaining and be thankful that he was free.

"I doubt very much whether there will be much public sympathy for Megrahi, particularly given the circumstances of his release," he said.

"The fact that he has now lived more than a year in freedom, notwithstanding his culpability for the deaths of 270 people, will make most people think that he should be grateful for the leniency with which he has been treated."

The continued survival of the only man to be convicted of the murder of 270 people when Pan Am flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie in December 1988 has caused anger in the UK and the United States, where a Senate inquiry into the release ordered by justice secretary Kenny MacAskill is taking place.Mr MacAskill has been condemned for the decision by both US president Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The row is the latest twist in the saga over the release with some experts claiming that Megrahi could live another ten or 20 years.

Recently, specialists who were involved in treating his terminal prostate cancer said that they were not consulted about the bomber's life chances before the release was made.

Mr MacAskill based his decision on a report by the prison service's chief medical officer Dr Andrew Fraser, which itself quoted only the doctor at Greenock Prison, where Megrahi was incarcerated, as supporting the prognosis that he had just three months to live.

American senators have claimed that there was a link between an oil deal involving BP in Libya and the release, although this has been denied by the oil giant and the British and Scottish governments.

BP did admit that it lobbied for a prisoner transfer agreement (PTA), but the Scottish Government has pointed out that Megrahi's application for a PTA was rejected.

However Mr MacAskill has since suggested he had no choice but to release Megrahi once he was given a three-month prognosis, because no previous such request had been refused.

However, the guidelines clearly state that the minister has discretion into whether to accept an application for compassionate release.

Last week the US senators also widened their inquiries to include Qatar, whose government lobbied SNP ministers just before the release, at the same time as discussing loans to Scotland.

The Scottish Government has denied any link to the talks with Qatar.

Megrahi's comments about his time in prison are not the only ones he has made recently about Scotland.

Some of his recent observations have shown that some of his memories of Scotland are positive.

Recent reports suggest that Megrahi is still taking an interest in Rangers, the football team he started to support while he was in Greenock.

He is also said to be speaking with a Scottish accent.

 
 
 

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