Cancer experts not consulted over Megrahi release: report

15th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Four British cancer specialists who were closely involved in the Lockerbie bomber's treatment have said they were not consulted before his release, a report said Sunday.

One of the experts said he was "surprised" that his advice was not sought before Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi was freed in August last year, in comments to The Sunday Times newspaper.

None of the medics, who were working for Britain's state health service when they dealt with Megrahi, said they signed off on a prognosis stating that the bomber had only three months to live, said the report.

The Scottish government freed him on compassionate grounds because he was suffering from terminal cancer and had only a short time to live, but he is still alive almost a year later.

"I was surprised when I heard he was being released, because I wasn't really asked for my opinion... it's a bit odd," said Zak Latif, the bomber's urologist in Scotland.

A Libyan doctor, Ibrahim Sherif, and a British cancer expert, Professor Karol Sikora -- who was paid by the Libyan government -- examined Megrahi and concluded he had three months to live, according to The Sunday Times.

Sikora admitted in an interview last month the bomber could in fact live for 10 years or longer.

Megrahi is the only man convicted of the 1988 terrorist attack over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, in which 270 people died, including 189 Americans.

The fact he is still alive almost a year after his release from prison has enraged critics in the United States who accuse oil giant BP of having pressed Scottish authorities for Megrahi's release to safeguard a lucrative business deal.

The Scottish government vehemently denies it came under pressure from BP.

Scottish ministers last year published a report by Andrew Fraser, director of health and care at the Scottish Prison Service.

It highlighted the names of four specialists in the case but their names were blacked out, said The Sunday Times.

As well as consultant urologist Latif, they were: urologist Geoffrey Orr, who first diagnosed Megrahi's cancer; Richard Jones, Megrahi's personal oncologist; and Grahame Howard, a consultant, according to the paper.

Latif said he had never had any dealings with Fraser: "I've never met or spoken to him. I deal with prostate cancer all the time and I'm very reluctant to make any kind of prognosis."

"I don't know how he made the decision of three months," he added.

Latif said Jones was not consulted before the release. Jones refused to comment, said The Sunday Times.

Orr said he had not been in touch with Scottish prison authorities since late October 2008, when he retired. "I would not even attempt to make a prognosis," he said.

Howard has previously said he is not surprised that Megrahi is still alive.

The Scottish government told the paper: "Due and proper process was followed at every stage."

© 2010 AFP

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