Lockerbie bomber Megrahi discovered close to death
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi found comatose in his Tripoli villa, his aged mother at his bedside
Any hopes among relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi might be returned to jail in Scotland have been dashed by his discovery "at death's door" in Tripoli. He has stopped eating and, according to his son, has been slipping in an out of a coma.
It was reported last week that Megrahi's luxurious villa had been abandoned and that the security guards who normally protect the house had disappeared. Thanks to the efforts of Nic Robertson, a British reporter for CNN, it now transpires that Megrahi was never spirited out of Tripoli by Col Gaddafi as some had suspected.
Having climbed the outside wall of the villa, Robertson was invited in to meet the family. He found Megrahi, the only man ever convicted of the 1988 PanAm jetliner bombing that killed 270 people, lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to oxygen and an intravenous drip, his aged mother sitting at the side.
Megrahi's son Khaled explained that looters had ransacked the house and taken his father's cancer medicine. Megrahi had no access to a doctor.
"We just give him oxygen," said Khaled. "Nobody gives us any advice. There is no doctor. There is nobody to ask. We don't have any phone line to call anybody. We just sit next to him … he has stopped eating and sometimes he goes into coma."
Asked about the calls from politicians and victims' relatives for his return to Britain to complete his jail sentence, Khaled said: "If he is sent to Scotland, he will die, by the way. Here or there."
Robertson and a camera crew were able to give viewers a taste of the lifestyle Megrahi had enjoyed until he became so ill. Looking at the furnishings, which suggested no expense had been spared, Robinson said it was clear Megrahi "was being paid off handsomely for all those years he spent in a Scottish jail".
Megrahi always maintained he was innocent of the Lockerbie bombing and many who have examined the evidence, including some relatives of those who died, agree with him.
They believe it is far more probable that Gaddafi himself, or one of his lieutenants, ordered the bombing and that Megrahi was allowed to play the fall-guy. As a result, he was given a hero's welcome when the Scottish authorities controversially allowed his release in August 2009, and was well looked after by the Gaddafi regime.
This included top-class medical treatment for his prostate cancer, allowing him to live well beyond the three months he was given in July 2009 by a team of doctors who examined him on behalf of the Scottish authorities.
CNN's Nic Robertson described Megrahi as being "at death's door". Unless Gaddafi himself can be found alive and persuaded to talk about the 1988 bombing, it now seems inevitable that Megrahi will take the secret of Lockerbie to his grave. ·
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