Lockerbie bomber's wife 'says he is critically ill'

Other News Materials 16 November 2008 17:21 (UTC +04:00)

The wife of convicted Lockerbie bomber Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi said in an interview published on Sunday that her husband is critically ill with cancer and slammed Scotland's authorities for not taking better care of him, AFP reported.

Aisha al-Megrahi spoke to the daily Oea, considered close to Seif al-Islam, the son of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, after a Scottish court on Friday rejected her husband's appeal to be freed on bail because of his illness.

"Hospitals in Scotland refused to take him in because of the increased security involved in transferring him, especially the use of helicopters," Oea quoted her as saying.

And despite increased surveillance "he remains handcuffed to the bed when he is examined, which affects his morale badly," she added.

Megrahi, a 56-year-old Libyan former intelligence officer, is serving life with a minimum term of 27 years for blowing up Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York over Scotland on the night of December 21, 1988.

The blast killed all 259 on board, and 11 people on the ground were killed by falling debris.

His lawyers applied for his interim release after announcing last month that he has prostate cancer which has spread to other parts of his body.

But on Friday the Appeal Court in Edinburgh ruled that he could live for years depending on how successful his treatment is.

"While the disease from which the appellant suffers is incurable and may cause his death, he is not at present suffering material pain or disability," Lord Justice General Arthur Hamilton said.

The Libyan newspaper slammed the ruling as "inhuman" and accused the judicial authorities in Scotland of "politicising the trial" of Megrahi.

"We expected justice to atone for the sin of condemning an innocent man convicted for political reasons, and ease his suffering", the paper wrote, and accused the Scottish judges of having been "stripped of their humanity".

Megrahi was sentenced in 2001 by three Scottish judges sitting at an extraordinary tribunal in The Netherlands to serve life in prison for the bombing.

He is seeking to have his conviction overturned, and an appeal is due to be heard next year. His lawyers applied for his interim release because of his illness.

On Friday Megrahi, who is being held at Greenock prison in western Scotland, voiced deep disappointment.

"I am very distressed that the court has refused me bail pending the hearing of my appeal, and the chance to spend my remaining time with my family," he said in a statement read out by his lawyer Tony Kelly.

"I wish to reiterate that I had nothing whatsoever to do with the Lockerbie bombing, and that the fight for justice will continue whether or not I'm alive to witness my name being cleared."