Jul 5 2010
Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of 270 counts of murder for being behind the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, was released on compassionate grounds in 2009, after doctors said he only had a few months to live.
The Scottish government provoked outrage from the United States when it released him from prison in August 2009 on compassionate grounds because he dying of metastatic prostate cancer. In Scotland, prisoners are eligible for release on compassionate grounds if they have fewer than three months to live.
A report in the Sunday Times said Libyan authorities, keen to secure Megrahi’s release, asked several experts to put a three-month estimate on the bomber’s life but Professor Sikora was the only one to agree.
Professor Sikora, the dean of medicine at Buckingham University and medical director of CancerPartnersUK in London, was paid for his medical assessment of Megrahi at Greenock prison on July last year.
He told the newspaper: “There was always a chance he could live for 10 years, 20 years … But it’s very unusual. “It was clear that three months was what they were aiming for. Three months was the critical point. He denied he came any under pressure, but admitted: “It is embarrassing that he’s gone on for so long.”
The Scottish government insists Kenny MacAskill, the justice minister who took the final decision to release Megrahi, based his ruling on a medical report by Dr Andrew Fraser, director of health and care at the Scottish Prison Service (SPS).
Jack Straw, then Justice Secretary at Westminster, admitted last year that trade and oil agreements were an essential part of the British government’s decision to include Megrahi in a previously planned prisoner transfer agreement with Libya.
He wrote to his Scottish counterpart to say it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Megrahi eligible for return to Libya.
As part of the conditions of his release, Megrahi has to provide a monthly report on his medical condition to East Renfrewshire Council – the local authority where his wife lived during his time in prison. However, lawyers have prevented the council from releasing reports used to update the Scottish government on his health. UK TELEGRAPH