Lockerbie bomber’s future in doubt

By Alex Stevenson

The future of the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing is still undecided, as the Scottish government is accused of prevarication over the issue.

Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was sentenced to a minimum term of 25 years in 2001 for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 which exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988.

He now has terminal prostate cancer and is said to have only weeks to live as a result.

Media reports had suggested the Scottish government was prepared to free Megrahi on compassionate grounds and that this explained his application on Friday to abandon his appeal against the conviction.

The Sun newspaper reported the bomber had phoned his mother to tell her he would have returned to Libya on Friday, in time for Ramadan.

But the Scottish government said today no decision had yet been taken.

“No date has been set for that announcement because he hasn’t reached a decision and that is still the position,” a spokesperson said.

Some reports suggested the US government had placed pressure on Scottish ministers to prevent the deportation.

The Times newspaper claimed US secretary of state Hillary Clinton had stepped in to make her views clear.

The SNP government’s political opponents have taken advantage of the case, demanding a quick statement to Holyrood.

Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman Richard Baker said: “The eyes of the world are on Scotland in its decision over Megrahi’s fate but there are now serious questions over the way the Scottish government has handled this process.