Page last updated at 18:06 GMT, Sunday, 20 December 2009

Lockerbie bomber's condition 'deteriorates'

Megrahi was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008

The condition of the terminally ill Lockerbie bomber has deteriorated, it has been confirmed.

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, 57, who was jailed for life in 2001 for the 1988 bombing, was released from prison in August on compassionate grounds.

The Tripoli Medical Centre in Libya said a scan has shown that the prostate cancer from which Megrahi is suffering has spread throughout his body.

When he was repatriated he was believed to have a three-month life expectancy.

The hospital said that Megrahi arrived there on Saturday coughing and vomiting, and he is said to be suffering from the secondary effects of chemotherapy sessions.

The bulletin said: "A scan has shown a worsening of the disease which has spread more than before."

'Bold decision'

Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill freed the bomber from Greenock Prison on compassionate grounds on 20 August.

His decision, and the scenes which greeted Megrahi on his return to Tripoli - where Scottish flags were waved - was met with anger by some relatives of the American victims.

A Scottish government spokesperson said of Megrahi's condition: "This would reflect the nature of the medical report prepared by Dr Fraser, the Scottish Prison Service director of health and care, which - along with the recommendations of the parole board and prison governor - informed the justice secretary's decision to send Megrahi back to Libya to die.

"But we would not comment on the situation of any individual."

Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the bombing, which happened 21 years ago on Monday, said: "I've been talking to people who know about his medical condition and the message I get is he's likely to only have a few weeks left.

"I think it's another occasion where we should be grateful for Kenny MacAskill's bold decision to allow him to go home."

However, Conservative MP for the Lockerbie area David Mundell said: "On this 21st anniversary of the Lockerbie air disaster, it is disappointing that Mr Al Megrahi is once again the focus of attention.

"Instead our thoughts should be those who lost loved ones on the night or were subsequently caught up in these tragic events."

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