Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Al Megrahi’s health rapidly deteriorating, reports claim

The health of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was under question yesterday following reports it had deteriorated markedly.

Megrahi, who is suffering from terminal prostate cancer, was in a special unit at the Tripoli Medical Centre in Libya at the weekend, the reports said.

However, his British lawyer Tony Kelly said he could not “confirm or deny” the claims.

Megrahi's brother Abdenasser said: “He is at a special ward at Tripoli Medical Centre. His condition has deteriorated rapidly. He is unable to speak to anyone.”

Doctors at the facility said they were expecting the results of tests from Germany to arrive before a special committee of doctors released a statement on his health.

Megrahi (57) was jailed in 2001 for the bombing of Pan Am 103 which claimed 270 lives in 1988.

The decision to release Megrahi, who returned to Libya to a hero's welcome, was made by the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to a storm of protest.

The reports about his health came as the UN General Assembly was urged to hold an inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing.

Campaigners are optimistic that the UN could set up a commission to investigate the bombing.

Prof Robert Black, one of the original architects of the trial at Camp Zeist, said he backed the latest campaign for an inquiry.

He said: “It's about trying to get an inquiry of some description into Lockerbie.

“Now that Al Megrahi has been released that method of trying to secure some truth through an appeal has vanished and this is about trying to look at other methods.”

Megrahi had been pursuing an appeal against conviction which campaigners hoped would have shed new facts on the case, but he dropped this just before his release.

Campaigners say only one country is needed to endorse a commission at the General Assembly of the UN to investigate Lockerbie.

Prof Black added: “The original trial was set up through the UN and that's the reason that many countries other than the UK cooperated.

“The obvious thing to do would be to ask the Security Council of the UN to hold an inquiry, but in realistic terms that's not going to happen, because the UK and US have vetoes and don't want it.

“They don't have vetoes on the General Assembly.”

It comes as Libya prepares to take over the presidency of the Assembly later this month.

The move is being driven by the Justice for Megrahi campaign, according to Prof Black, but has the backing of Hans Koechler, the UN observer at the original trial, and Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the tragedy.

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