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Africa

Released bomber in intensive care at Tripoli hospital

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-19

The convicted Lockerbie bomber, freed from jail on August 20, is in intensive care at a hospital in Tripoli, a Libyan official said on Wednesday. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, who has prostate cancer, was given three months to live when released.

AFP - The convicted Lockerbie bomber, released from a Scottish jail last month on compassionate grounds because of terminal cancer, has been admitted to hospital intensive care in Tripoli, a Libyan official said on Wednesday.
   
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, who has prostate cancer and was give only three months to live when he was released on August 20, was hospitalised "three days ago," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
   
Megrahi is in the Tripoli Medical Center's cancer section, which has been cordoned off by security services, who are banning visitors, a security officer told an AFP correspondent at the scene.
   
The 57 year-old former intelligence officer was the only man convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 above the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, which killed 270 people.
   
He received a jail term of at least 27 years in 2001 and served eight years before his release.
   
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill freed Megrahi on compassionate grounds, saying that the Libyan was dying from his illness.
   
Megrahi's release -- and the hero's welcome he received on his return to Tripoli -- drew a furious US reaction, both from President Barack Obama's administration and families of the 189 US victims of the atrocity.
   
A brief video clip of Megrahi was shown on Tuesday at celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's accession to power.
   
An official said Megrahi was "not participating in any way in the celebrations."
   
The British government has insisted that the decision to release him was one solely taken by the semi-autonomous Scottish government.
   
Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Wednesday that Britain did not want the Lockerbie bomber to die in prison, but he denied London had pressed Scotland to free him or done a deal with oil-rich Libya.
   
In an admission likely to increase pressure on Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Miliband insisted that Scotland alone decided Megrahi's fate.
   
"We did not want him to die in prison ... We weren't seeking his death in prison," Miliband told BBC radio, in the first public admission of London's stance by a senior minister.
   
On Tuesday, documents were released by British and Scottish authorities about the case, which London hoped would counter charges that Megrahi was released as part of a deal to facilitate a huge oil and gas deal with oil-rich Libya.
   
Miliband insisted there was no deal with Tripoli, noting that Brown made this clear in a meeting with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in July this year.
   
"He was absolutely clear in his meeting with Colonel Gaddafi that he could not instruct, and he could not give comfort about the Megrahi (case) .. there was no way for us to control Megrahi's fate," said the foreign minister.
   
"At no stage were we willing to say that we could offer the kind of deal that is being alleged, because it was not in our gift to release Megrahi," he added.
   
The minority Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) has been heavily criticised by opposition deputies, including Labour, over its handling over the affair and a debate about Megrahi's release was taking place in the Scottish parliament on Wednesday.
 

Date created : 2009-09-02

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