Hunt for Lockerbie bomber amid the chaos of Tripoli

THE Scottish council charged with monitoring the Lockerbie bomber was last night attempting to track him down amid claims that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi could have breached the terms of his licence.

A former Libyan intelligence agent, he is supposed to keep in regular contact with officials at East Renfrewshire Council, the local authority area where his family had a home while he was imprisoned in Scotland.

The council last contacted Megrahi on 8 August and yesterday the council’s leader, Jim Fletcher, admitted that his officials were now in “uncharted” territory and do not know what to do if contact is lost.

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When Megrahi was freed two years ago on the basis that he had around three months to live, his release terms stated that he must keep the council regularly updated about his medical condition and location.

The release licence of the Libyan, who has terminal prostate cancer, states that a breach could result in him being recalled to prison.

Yesterday, Councillor Fletcher said his officers have spoken to him recently and were satisfied he is alive and staying at his home address in Tripoli.

But he added: “We’re trying to track him down at the moment. Our duty is to make sure he’s in Libya. We’re monitoring his whereabouts. We are in uncharted waters. 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 Labour councillor said the situation has changed as the conflict in Libya intensifies in the capital. He said the authority is trying to reach Megrahi to make sure he is safe, adding: “If we can’t do that, it is uncharted territory.

“The goalposts have moved. We would need guidance from the government – it was their decision to release him.”

Calls have already been made to bring the convicted killer back to prison in Scotland.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon, whose family was driven out of Libya after Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi took power, said: “We should make every effort to bring him back so he can spend the rest of his time in prison where he belongs.

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“Or he should spend the rest of his life in a Libyan jail, or be extradited to the US.”

Those calls intensified when New York’s two Democratic senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, asked the Libyan transitional government to send Megrahi back to jail.

Megrahi has recently made appearances at rallies on behalf of the ousted Libyan leader as the civil war spread throughout the country.

“The release of Megrahi was a total miscarriage of justice,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Seeing him participate in good health at a pro-Gaddafi rally recently was another slap in the face not just for the families of the Lockerbie victims, but for all Americans and all nations of the world who are committed to bringing terrorists to justice.”

Senator Schumer added his voice to the plea saying: “As a transitional government takes hold in Libya, it should seek to undo the injustice of al-Megrahi’s release by returning him to the jail cell where he belongs.”

Last night, Foreign Secretary William Hague suggested the Scottish Government should look again at Megrahi’s release.

“If I was a Scottish minister, I would be looking urgently to review the al-Megrahi situation,” Mr Hague said.

David McLetchie, the Scottish Conservative chief whip, suggested that Megrahi’s appearance in support of Gaddafi could have already resulted in the terms of his licence being breached.

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“Megrahi was clearly a poster boy – a trophy used and exploited by Gaddafi at the time of his release and subsequently,” Mr McLetchie said.

“I would be surprised if that was actually permitted in terms of his conditions of release, and if it wasn’t he should certainly have been banned.

“If there is any other evidence that Megrahi has been helping to prop up Gaddafi, then clearly he ought to be in jail and not wandering around Libya as he was allowed to do by the SNP government.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Al-Megrahi was sent back to Libya because he is dying of terminal cancer, he is being monitored by East Renfrewshire Council according to the terms of his release licence, which he has not breached.”

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