Scotland won't seek Lockerbie bomber extradition: leader
Scotland will not seek the extradition of the Lockerbie bomber from Libya's new government, First Minister Alex Salmond said Monday, adding many felt he should be left to die in peace.
Salmond spoke after the brother of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the 1988 atrocity, said the cancer-stricken bomber was drifting in and out of a coma and CNN reported he was close to death.
"The Scottish government has no intention, never has had any intention, to ask for the extradition of Mr. al-Megrahi because he has conformed to his licence conditions," Salmond told BBC television.
Conditions for his early release included providing regular medical updates to Scottish authorities and remaining in Libya.
Megrahi was jailed for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 which killed 270 people, mostly Americans, when it exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.
Scotland took the decision in August, 2009 to release Megrahi early on compassionate grounds, saying he had only months to live because of prostate cancer. He remains alive more than two years later in Tripoli.
US Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez called last week for the new Libyan authorities to extradite Megrahi, but Salmond dismissed the calls.
Even if an extradition request were to be made, the Libyan rebel leadership had already signalled they would not agree to it, the Scottish nationalist leader added.
"The opinion of many, many people is that it might be time as far as Mr. Megrahi is concerned to draw a line under that part of the Lockerbie issue and perhaps allow this man now to die in peace," Salmond continued.
Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the bombing, said extraditing Megrahi when he appeared on the verge of death would be "monstrous."
"I feel in view of all he's been through that he should have been accorded a peaceful end in Tripoli with his family," said Swire, a Briton who has long maintained that Megrahi is innocent.
"The idea of extraditing him is a monstrous one."
Scottish officials confirmed they had been in touch with the bomber's family via email at the weekend.
"There was no evidence of a breach of his licence conditions, and his medical condition is consistent with someone suffering from terminal prostate cancer," said a joint statement from the government and East Renfrewshire Council.
The job to keep tabs on Megrahi fell to East Renfrewshire Council because Megrahi's family had a home in the area when he was imprisoned in Greenock prison, in the west of Scotland.
© 2011 AFP