Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lockerbie bomber freed over 'low mood'

The Scottish executive has also admitted that the prognosis that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi had less than three months to live was based on the opinion of a single prison doctor, and was made when the terrorist had yet to undergo chemotherapy.

Those who made the decision also took no account of the views of relations of al-Megrahi’s victims, the documents disclose.

Al-Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 for the murders of 270 people in the bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988.

The SNP-led Scottish executive decided to release him in August last year on “compassionate grounds” on the basis that he had less than three months to live. Almost a year later, al-Megrahi is still alive and the decision to release him has been the subject of growing anger, especially in the United States. Internal papers detailing the medical and other official advice given to Scottish ministers have now been released.

They record that there was much discussion over al-Megrahi’s wellbeing and emotional state. The parole board’s advice to ministers stated: “He is described as feeling isolated and his mood is low. He shows signs of being in physical pain when going about his daily living.”

It adds: “Mr al-Megrahi’s family are no longer in Scotland and he is therefore unable to have any direct contact with them. In the final weeks of his life it will be important for both his welfare and that of his wife, children and elderly parents to have time together to assist the bereavement process. This is also of cultural and religious importance to him.”

The documents show that Megrahi was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2008 and was “informally” given 18 to 24 months to live. By June and July last year, he was not responding well to treatment and therefore his life expectancy was at the “lower end of expectations from 10 months ago”. However, he would therefore be expected to live for a further eight months. During early August, the prison doctor reported that “his clinical condition has declined significantly over the last week”.

The document records: “The clinical assessment, therefore, is that a three-month prognosis is now a reasonable estimate for this patient.” There are no documents to support this statement from four NHS cancer experts treating Megrahi.

In another report, the governor of the prison holding Megrahi also disclosed that he had “had sight” of medical reports on his condition provided by the Libyans. This led the governor to state that Megrahi had a three-month life expectancy which was “confirmed” by the prison doctor. The Scottish authorities have previously insisted that Libyan medical advice had no bearing on the decision to release the bomber.


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