Found Lockerbie bomber likely to stay in Tripoli
Scotland won't push for extradition of 'clearly dying' Libyan convicted in 1988 airline attack
The Scottish government says it will not seek the extradition of a Libyan man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270, saying a news report "clearly shows" he is dying of cancer in Tripoli.
CNN reported that Abdel-Baset al-Megrahi is near death, surviving only with help from an oxygen machine and an intravenous drip. He has stopped eating and is drifting in and out of consciousness, according to the report by longtime CNN correspondent Nic Robertson.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said in a statement Monday that justice officials made contact with al-Megrahi's family over the weekend and his medical condition is "consistent" with someone terminally ill with cancer.
CBC News in Libya
"We have never had — and do not have — any intention of asking for the extradition of Mr al-Megrahi, because he has conformed to his licence conditions," Salmond said.
"The latest pictures broadcast of Mr. al-Megrahi clearly demonstrate that he is an extremely sick man, dying of terminal prostate cancer. Hopefully, this will end the ridiculous conspiracy theories that seek to claim anything else."
The Scottish government released al-Megrahi in 2009, believing he would soon die of cancer. He was greeted as a hero in his native country and met with now-deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
CNN's Robertson said Monday he set off with his crew to the neighbourhood he believed al-Megrahi lived in, along with a photograph of his suspected house. They finally gained access after shouting over the house's wall, the reporter said.
Robertson said al-Megrahi's aging mother claimed they are cut off from any medical help in the house, which apparently underwent massive renovations upon the 59-year-old's return from Scotland.
"It doesn't take long walking around this building before you begin to realize, looking at the marble on these expensive fittings, that it appears Megrahi was being paid off handsomely for all those years he spent in jail," Robertson told CNN from Tripoli.
His brother, Abdel-Nasser al-Megrahi, told reporters outside the house that his brother is in no condition to return to prison.
"He is between life and death, so what difference would prison make?" he said.
While no medical confirmation of his condition was available, CNN's Robertson said al-Megrahi appeared "in no state to talk."
"Whatever secrets he has may soon be gone," the reporter said.
Britain's worst attack
Al-Megrahi is the only person convicted of Britain's worst bombing attack, the December 1988 downing of Pan Am flight 103 that killed 270 people. His release after serving eight years of a life sentence infuriated the families of many victims, who suspected Britain's real motive was to improve relations with oil-rich Libya.
While New York senators on Aug. 22 asked the Libyan transitional government to hold al-Megrahi fully accountable for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, the transitional government has refused to deport him.
Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi told journalists in Tripoli that the request by American senators had "no meaning" because al-Megrahi had already been tried and convicted.
"We will not hand over any Libyan citizen. It was Gadhafi who handed over Libyan citizens," he said, referring to the government's decision to turn al-Megrahi over to a Scottish court for trial.
New York Senator Charles Schumer had encouraged the new Libyan leadership to hold al-Megrahi accountable.
"A new Libya can send a strong statement to the world by declaring it will no longer be a haven for this convicted terrorist," he said.
But Scotland's Salmond said Monday that al-Megrahi remains under Scottish jurisdiction, and insisted the only entity with any legal entitlement to call for his return to Scotland is the Scottish Government.
"The only other people with any legitimate say in the matter are the members of the National Transitional Council as the duly constituted legal authority in Libya, and they have already made it clear that any request for extradition would have been rejected," Salmond said.
With files from The Associated Press