London: Cancer-stricken Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is alive, nine months after he was granted compassionate release from a Scottish prison by doctors who gave him just three months to live.
Megrahi has now become the longest-surviving person to be granted compassionate release in Scotland, The Sun reported on Thursday.
Former Libyan intelligence agent Megrahi was the only person convicted for the 1988 Pan-Am bombing that killed 270 people. He is in Libya after his release from prison on August 20, 2009.
Family members of the victims are furious.
"Of course he's alive, it's no surprise. People can live with prostate cancer for years," US national Susan Cohen, who lost her 20-year-old daughter in the bombing, was quoted as saying.
"All this compassion stuff is nonsense - it has nothing to do with him dying of cancer. This was a political deal to make (Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi happy so (that) the oil companies could make their money.”
"That's all it was. They were going to get him out one way or another. Megrahi is guilty. But now he is living happily and comfortably," she was quoted as saying.
Thirty-eight inmates have been freed on compassionate ground ever since the release scheme was introduced in 1992.
"Since the Lockerbie bomber was released, he has enjoyed a life of luxury, celebrated his birthday and now surpasses the record for the longest amount of time a convicted murderer has been free after being granted compassionate release," said Bill Aitken, a Tory justice spokesman.
"It is now nine months since Britain's worst mass murderer returned to a hero's welcome," Aitken said, while demanding that the Scottish government release the medical files used as evidence to free Megrahi.
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill on Wednesday stood by his decision to free Megrahi.
"What is indisputable is that al-Megrahi is terminally ill with cancer. I said at the time he may live for less than three months, he may live for more. It's clearly self-evident that he has lived for more.”
"The medical advice given to me was appropriate medical advice. Clinicians had no doubt that this man has terminal prostate cancer. It is always difficult for individuals to define what the period and the prognosis is, but he remains terminally ill. He remains a sick and dying man who is past any possible treatment that would alleviate it."
A Scottish government spokesperson said the decision to release Megrahi was taken for "the right reasons".
First Published: Thursday, May 20, 2010, 14:49