July 5th, 2010
08:26 PM ET

Doctor: Released Lockerbie bomber could live much longer

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi in Libya in 2009.

A British cancer expert who said the man convicted in the 1988 plane bombing over Scotland had about three months to live before the prisoner's release last year now says the Libyan could survive another decade or more.

Dr. Karol Sikora told The Sunday Times that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi – whom Scotland's government released on compassionate grounds in August after being diagnosed with prostate cancer - could live another 10 or even 20 years.

Scotland's justice secretary said last year that the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber was made after medical reports showed he had terminal cancer and perhaps three months to live.

"It's embarrassing that [al Megrahi has] gone on for so long," Sikora told The Sunday Times for a report published this week.

Al Megrahi, 58, is the only person convicted in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing, which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans. Scotland's decision to release him on compassionate grounds was made about eight and a half years after he was sentenced to life in prison.

He was released to his native Libya, and a celebration of his homecoming there infuriated some families of the Pan Am 103 victims.

Sikora, medical director of CancerPartnersUK, was hired by Libyan authorities to help determine al Megrahi's life expectancy in July 2009, The Sunday Times reported.

"It was clear that three months was what they were aiming for. Three months was the critical point. On the balance of probabilities, I felt I could sort of justify [that]," Sikora said, according to The Sunday Times.

He said he wasn't pressured. "There was a 50 percent chance that he would die in three months, but there was also a 50 percent chance that he would live longer," Sikora said, according to The Sunday Times.

The Libyan government forwarded his findings, along with those of two other experts, to Scottish authorities before Megrahi was released, The Sunday Times reported. Sikora is the only British doctor contacted by the paper to "admit to having endorsed the three-month prediction," The Sunday Times wrote.

After Scotland released al Megrahi last year, Scotland Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill told CNN he was acting on advice from the director of health and social care for Scottish Prison Services, the prison governor and "other relevant bodies of Scotland."

Since al Megrahi's release, the British and Scottish governments have denied allegations he was let go to clear the way for British oil deals with Libya.

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Filed under: Justice • Libya • Terrorism • United Kingdom
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. Johnny

    Hes a terroris for blowing up a planet that was released because hes dying. Now hes a free terrorsit with nothing to lose. Hmmm....

    July 6, 2010 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  2. Susan (Kimbell) McCabe

    Okay, here in the US, if a child is killed that is under a certain age, it's an automatic DEATH Sentence, how on EARTH did this dude even get a LIFE SENTENCE, I know there was probably more than one child on this flight? Are the laws not the same everywhere? Call me niave and stupid but, also this dude IS a Mass Murderer & Terrorist, why on God's Green Earth would anyone let this dude out showing any type of Compassion for him when he didn't show Compassion himself blowing up a plane full of Innocent Human Beings, that God created...What about their loved ones? This is Ridiculous by all Means! I say if he has a life's expectancy of another 1+ years left send him back to serve out his SENTENCE!!

    July 6, 2010 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Ummmm Susan McCabe.....when did the US get a mandatory death sentence? I must have missed that.

      July 6, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ed

    I just have a hard time reconciling the concept of a life sentence with the idea that as soon as the prisoner shows signs of being near death you let him go. I thought the point of the life sentence was that the prisoner would die in prison from natural causes (which, in prison, include being killed by your buddies on the cell block). Well, I guess I'll never understand this progressive prison reform....

    On the other hand, who among us doesn't get a spiritual lift from witnessing a miracle? I think al Megrahi is living proof that the gods work in mysterious ways. I'm sure it will all make sense some day.

    July 6, 2010 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tony

    The Scottish and British governments should be ashamed of themselves. They made a mockery of justice, they lied about it (humanitarian my Aunt Velma's butt, OIL OIL OIL). They treated the murders of Americans and Scottish people like they didn't matter at all in the large scheme of things (OIL OIL OIL). They acted like Republicans. Shame shame shame! The Scottish and British ministers complicit in approving this should rot in hell along with the assassin that they think so highly of!

    July 6, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. tpubon

    Susan, I was unaware that it is an automatic death sentence for killing a child under a certain age in the US. Unless it was a federal crime, I thought the individual states decided that. The states are free to choose to have the death penalty or not. Laws are not the same everywhere. What is against the law in the U.S. might not be against the law somewhere else. Laws even vary state to state. Even with international law not all nations abide by. I do agree with you about showing this individual any compassion. The only compassion should be the choice of life in prison or death. One would take him out of this world immediately and the other would allow him to live the rest of his life in a cell. I don't really care how sick he might be, he never should have been released. I for one feel serving out the rest of your life in a cell is much worse then death but I understand why others feel he should die. One of the problems is that the people that are trying to destroy us have no compassion while we had it out indiscriminately.

    July 6, 2010 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. Sam

    Tony, Tony.....

    I guess we are lucky that they acted like Republicans. At least he received some jail time. A Democrat would have begged forgiveness that our way of life turned him into a killing monster. He would have been given a public apology, a first class ticket back to whatever sand pit he came from and a national holiday named in his honor.

    July 6, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jack

    Sam, Sam...
    Perhaps a republican would have apologized too (for example, Joe Barton to BP, we're sorry we've been soooo hard on you...)

    Maybe a better approach would be to ask Mr. Qaddafi to return the prisoner, as he (Qaddafi) is such a champion of justice...

    July 6, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DallasMarine

    I'm sure all of our vets who have died serving and protecting this country love the idea of letting terrorists live out of compassion. These men and women never got to return home to their families, but this trash gets to? Our govt. truly is out of touch, Dems and Repubs.

    July 25, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Red-White-Blue

    I say hang him!!! Like in the good old days, let a firing squad determing his livlyhood. I believe sooner or later some angry, bitter victimized family memeber will avange himself-herself by seeking justice and taking the bomers life, as he once did to them by setting a bomb on the plane...

    In the Americas where the Red-White-Blue is seen in the skies.

    August 21, 2010 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
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