Cancer specialists fly to Tripoli as Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi fades fast

02/09/09

Times Online

photo, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, holding baby, poses with unidentified members of his family in Tripoli, Libya, in this image from TV. A Scottish court on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2001 Images google search (adalvoice)

photo, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, holding baby, poses with unidentified members of his family in Tripoli, Libya, in this image from TV. A Scottish court on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2001. Images google search (adalvoice) AP - photo / mbc tv , file

The health of the Lockerbie bomber is deteriorating so fast that European cancer specialists are being flown to Tripoli in a chartered aircraft to treat him, Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi’s brother has told The Times.

“He’s in a bad situation. The last check-up was very, very bad… He’s dying,” said Mohammed al-Megrahi, who doubted his brother would live another month. “We are really worried about him, but it’s the wish of God.”

Mr al-Megrahi would not, or could not, say where the specialists were coming from or who was paying for them.

A Libyan government official said that al-Megrahi “has been admitted to the emergency room in the hospital. He is in a bad way. He is unable to speak to anyone.”

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A hospital spokesman said: “Because of the treatment he is receiving, his immune system is very weak.”

Critics of the Scottish Government’s decision to release al-Megrahi last month have questioned how ill he really is, but there seems little doubt that he is in his final weeks, or even days.

This afternoon, after a vigorous debate at Holyrood, the Scottish parliament voted not to endorse the Government’s decision to release al-Megrahi last month, although opposition parties are not planning to push for a full no-confidence vote.

Annabel Goldie, leader of the Scottish Tories, said: “This was a bad day for Alex Salmond’s Government and for the First Minister himself. Releasing the Lockerbie bomber was a bad decision, made badly.”

When The Times interviewed him in his Tripoli home on the day after his release on August 20 al-Magrahi looked very frail, but was still able to walk with the help of a stick. Soon after that he was confined to a medical bed installed in the ground floor of his home, and his brother said that he was refusing his family’s pleas to go into hospital because he was determined to receive the hundreds of wellwishers who were coming to his home to greet him.

Last Sunday al-Megrahi did finally go into hospital, and Channel 4 filmed him lying in a bed with an oxygen mask. His brother doubts he will leave hospital alive, but added: “We believe in God. Miracles happen.”

Al-Megrahi was certainly far too ill to appear at the celebrations of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s 40 years in power on Tuesday – a move that would have been provocative and prompted a walkout by the British charge d’affaires and other Western diplomats attending the events.

However, pictures of al-Megrahi flying home to a rapturous reception were shown during a two-and-a-half-hour re-enactment of Libyan history on Tuesday night that focused mostly on Colonel Gaddafi’s rule.

A British Embassy spokesman said that Britain and the US had both urged the Libyan Government to ensure neither al-Megrahi nor the film footage featured in the celebrations, and said the use of the video was “disappointing”.

Al-Megrahi’s release has been portrayed as a great victory in the state-controlled Libyan media, and Colonel Gaddafi evidently needs some successes to boost his popularity. The celebrations, which continue all week, have been notable for the almost total absence of public enthusiasm or spontaneous displays of affection.

Nor has Colonel Gaddafi let his people share the sumptuous spectacles he is staging at vast cost. Libyans were able to watch them live for hours on end on all four television channels, but residents of Tripoli have been barred from the centre of the city where the events are taking place, held back by high wire fences and baton-wielding policemen.

Western journalists had been told that 300,000 Libyans would pack into Green Square to watch Tuesday night’s show, which reportedly cost €35 million (£31 million) to produce. In the event the audience consisted of just a few thousand foreign dignitaries, Libyan officials and journalists. Officials cited security concerns.