Lockerbie bomber could live 10 years with cancer: report

4th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Lockerbie bomber could survive for 10 years or longer, according to the cancer specialist who said last year he would be dead within three months of his release, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

Professor Karol Sikora, who assessed Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi for the Libyan authorities almost a year ago, told The Sunday Times it was "embarrassing" that he had outlived his three-month prognosis.

The Scottish government provoked outrage from the United States when it released Megrahi from prison in August 2009 on compassionate grounds because he is suffering from terminal cancer.

Megrahi is the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing of a US Pan Am jumbo jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, which left 270 people dead.

But the newspaper claimed that Sikora, the dean of medicine at Buckingham University in southern England, was the only expert the Libyan authorities could find who would agree to put the three-month estimate on Megrahi's life.

It reported that the advice of two other experts was ignored after they said Megrahi could live for 19 months.

Sikora said: "There was always a chance he could live for 10 years, 20 years... But it's very unusual."

The professor told The Sunday Times that the Libyan authorities made it clear to him that if he concluded Megrahi would die in a matter of months, it would greatly improve his chances of being released from jail in Scotland.

"It was clear that three months was what they were aiming for. Three months was the critical point," Sikora said.

"On the balance of probabilities, I felt I could sort of justify (that)."

He denied he came any under pressure, but admitted: "It is embarrassing that he's gone on for so long."

"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."

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's eldest son, Seif al-Islam, said in May that Megrahi was still "very sick" with advanced stage cancer.

© 2010 AFP

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