Megrahi family begs Scotland for medical aid
Pictures emerged yesterday of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi in a critical condition, breathing through an oxygen mask in his mother’s home. His brother, Abdul Nasser al-Megrahi, told The Scotsman he had issued a desperate plea to the same government that took the controversial decision to allow the bomber – convicted of murdering 270 people – to return home to die. He said his brother’s medication had been stolen by burglers.
Speaking outside the family home in Tripoli, he said: “We asked the Scottish Government to send medicines here. Yesterday we were in contact with the Scottish Government by e-mail, and we sent through details of his medical condition.
“Every month we have sent through records. He is really suffering these days.
“Tomorrow, Libyan doctors will come to see him here. In the past he was treated by German doctors. We hope some foreign doctors can come, as we don’t trust local doctors.
“We are waiting for a response from Scotland. It stands to you to decide. At this moment, it is good if they send treatment.”
First Minister Alex Salmond said the images illustrate the terminal illness of the man responsible for the worst mass murder in the UK and insisted that the Scottish Government will not call for his return to Scotland.
However, a Scottish Government spokesman said it was unaware of the family’s request for medical aid.
“Any such request would be one for the National Transitional Council to consider, as the legitimate governing authority in Libya,” he added.
It is believed that no such request has been made to East Renfrewshire Council, which has been monitoring Megrahi – who has prostate cancer – since his release on licence.
Rebel forces have now seized control of much of Libya, but warned that Muammar al-Gaddafi still posed a danger to the country.
The Scottish authorities had lost contact with Megrahi as rebels overran Tripoli in the past week or so, but he was located yesterday at his mother’s home, hooked up to a ventilator and barely conscious.
He remains the only man convicted and imprisoned in Scotland for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people.
Megrahi’s son Khaled told reporters at the family home that his father was comatose and close to death. “He drifts in and out of a coma,” he said.
Abdul Nasser al-Megrahi said: “The last time he spoke, he was unconscious, but uttered words about his mother Fatima, and even asked about his father. He can’t even eat now.”
The family said he had been without proper medical attention for several days, claiming his medication had been looted from pharmacists during the rebel advance into Tripoli.
“There is no doctor. There is nobody to ask. We don’t have any phone line to call anybody,” Khaled al-Megrahi said.
“Some medicines were looted from the house when burglers came one night, and we have no water.”
Megrahi was granted compassionate release in Summer 2009 on the basis that he was expected to die within three months. However, he survived and was residing in Tripoli when Gaddafi’s regime fell.
There have been calls for Megrahi to be brought back to jail in the UK in the wake of the collapse of Gaddafi’s regime.
But Mr Salmond said yesterday: “We have never had and do not have any intention of asking for the extradition of Mr Megrahi.
“It’s quite clear from the Libyan Transitional Council that following their own laws, they had never any intention of agreeing to such extradition, and therefore the views of American senators, American lawyers, of the UK Foreign Secretary, or of the Deputy Prime Minister, have no bearing on this issue, because they do not have any locus whatsoever.”
Justice secretary Kenny Mac-Askill, the man who took the decision to free Megrahi on compassionate grounds more than two years ago, added: “Why would you want to bring him back to Scotland? Which hospital would you want to bring him into? Which ward would you clear, which hospital would you ring with police officers?
“In which hospital would you interfere with people wishing to go and see their sick relatives?”
Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora, 23, said Megrahi should now be allowed a dignified death.
The retired GP, who believes Megrahi to be innocent of the atrocity, was among a number of victims’ families to speak out following confirmation from the Scottish Government that contact had been made with Megrahi’s family during the weekend.
Dr Swire said: “I feel, in view of all he’s been through, that he should have been accorded a peaceful end in Tripoli with his family. The idea of extraditing him is a monstrous one.”
Mohammed al-Alagi, justice minister with the Libyan Transitional Council became the most senior figure so far to rule out handing individuals over.
“We will not give any Libyan citizen to the West,” hesaid. “Megrahi has already been judged and he will not be judged again. We do not hand over Libyan citizens. Gaddafi does.”
John Flynn, whose son died in the Lockerbie bombing, said he was “unbelievably disappointed” at the news.
“If the man’s dying and so on, I’ve got to have some sympathy for that,” he said.
“I would like to see him back in prison with Gaddafi, but if he dies in Libya I’m not having a heart attack about that.”
Other victims said they feared their chances of discovering the truth behind the atrocity would die with along with Megrahi.
Pam Dix, whose lost her brother Peter, 35, said: “The sad thing is that with the death of this man will go our chance of knowing for sure whether he was involved or not.
“He maintains he wasn’t, but he remains the only man convicted, and we have never really heard his case for being innocent. We may never properly know now.”
Meanwhile, Scotland Yard has also identified former Libyan diplomat Abdulmagid Salah Ameri as the prime suspect in the 1984 shooting of police officer Yvonne Fletcher in London.
No-one has ever been prosecuted over the murder of PC Fletcher, who was shot while policing a protest outside the Libyan embassy. Now it has emerged an eyewitness saw Ameri, a junior diplomat at the time, firing a gun from inside the building.