Page last updated at 10:54 GMT, Saturday, 25 July 2009 11:54 UK

Ill Megrahi seeks prison release

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi
Megrahi was convicted of the bombing which killed 270 people

The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has asked to be released from jail on compassionate grounds.

Scottish ministers will now consider the application from Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer last year.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will make the final decision.

If the application is successful, Megrahi's release from Greenock Prison would allow him to return to Libya without dropping his appeal.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman confirmed that ministers will now seek advice on the application.

Three releases

Libya has already submitted a request to have Megrahi returned.

A total of 270 people died when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988.

According to The Herald newspaper, Mr MacAskill is thought to have released three terminally ill patients on compassionate grounds last year.

Traditionally, only applications from those with three months to live are granted.

Megrahi is currently being held in Greenock prison where he is receiving treatment for advanced stage prostate cancer.

'Evidence doubts'

South of Scotland MSP Christine Grahame, who has met Megrahi twice in recent months, said Scottish Prison Service officials had already informed her there was nowhere within the prison estate properly suited to managing his condition.

Earlier this month, she said: "This makes the case for compassionate release absolutely imperative.

"That option is not subject to judicial review and is the only sensible compromise position in light of the fresh evidence and Mr Megrahi's deteriorating health.

"The weight of evidence which has emerged combined with the serious doubts raised over the original evidence that was led at the trial have left me in no doubt of Mr Megrahi's innocence."

She added that if Megrahi was allowed to die in prison but it was later established he was innocent, people would question why the Scottish justice system "failed so dramatically".

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