Megrahi's family to sue over 'neglect' in Scots jail, says Gaddafi

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COLONEL Gaddafi has revealed that the family of Lockerbie bomber Abdulbaset Ali al-Megrahi is preparing a compensation claim over "neglect" in his Scottish prison cell.

• Abdulbaset Ali al-Megrahi is still alive 16 months after his release from a Scottish prison. Picture: AP

The compensation claim was branded "offensive" by MSPs last night as the Scottish Government defended its care of the bomber, who was released on compassionate grounds by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill due to advanced prostate cancer.

However, he remains alive more than a year after his release, following intensive therapy in his homeland.

The Libyan dictator said last night: "He was released because he was considered dead, and yet he is still alive.

"His health was not looked after during his time in prison. He didn't have any periodic examination. After he passes away his family will demand compensation because he was deliberately neglected in prison."

Col Gaddafi was speaking to an audience of students and staff at the London School of Economics (LSE) via a live video-link. He confirmed that Megrahi remained "very ill" with cancer after being released from prison on compassionate grounds in August 2009. He was allowed to go home after he dropped an appeal over his conviction for the bombing and remains convicted of murdering 270 people when a Pan Am plane was brought down over the Scottish town in 1988, the worst terrorist atrocity ever committed on British soil.

He served his Scottish jail sentence at Greenock's Gateside Prison, where he had his own private suite and enjoyed luxuries such as satellite television, paid for with Libyan government money.

Claims of neglect in jail sparked an angry response last night.

Bill Aitken, MSP, Tory justice spokesman, said: "Many will find it quite offensive to suggest that the Scottish Prison Service or the Scottish justice system denies any prisoner the appropriate treatment for any condition.

"Col Gaddafi can say what he likes but as Mr Megrahi seems to be taking an inordinate time to die it seems it will be some time before any action is initiated."

The Scottish Government also defended its care of the bomber while he served time in the Scottish prison system.

A spokesman said: "The Scottish Government does not doubt the conviction of Megrahi. He was given the same high standard of NHS care as any other prisoner within the Scottish prison system."

Any compensation claim over his treatment in Scottish jails would come under the responsibility of the Scottish Government.

Last night Col Gaddafi repeated claims that Megrahi was innocent of the Lockerbie bombing despite the dropping of his appeal against the conviction.He said: "The charges directed towards Libya were based on unfounded evidence in an attempt to weaken the Libyan revolution and limit its resources and abilities."

Despite his claims over neglect, Col Gaddafi praised "his friend" Tony Blair, who is a regular visitor to Libya as both a UN peace envoy for the Middle East.

He said: "Tony Blair didn't have anything to do with the Lockerbie case."

Megrahi, 58, was given three months to live by doctors on his release in August 2009 but, 16 months on, is living with his family in Tripoli.

This has outraged relatives of victims, especially in the United States, where President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were strongly critical of Mr MacAskill's decision to release Megrahi.

Among last night's audience was Lord Giddens, a key ally of former prime minister Blair. Asked about Col Gaddafi's speech, he said: "As usual with Gaddafi it was a mixture of the perceptive and the absurd."