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Libya to seek extradition of Lockerbie bomber

TRIPOLI – Libya plans to seek the extradition of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi who is serving a life term in Scotland and suffering from terminal cancer, a Libyan source said on Monday.

"Libya and Britain are due to exchange ratified extradition documents at the end of April, and after that Libya will officially submit a request for Abdelbaset Megrahi’s extradition," the source close to the case told AFP.

This would allow Megrahi "to continue his sentence in a Libyan prison, particularly since he is suffering from an advanced stage of cancer and has only a few weeks left to live," the source added on condition of anonymity.

In May 2007, Britain and Libya signed a protocol agreement on the transfer of prisoners which the Libyan source says has been ratified by the two countries. The documents are due to be exchanged later in April.

Megrahi is serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 27 years after being convicted of downing a transatlantic US airliner over the Scottish village of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people.

The 56-year-old Libyan former intelligence officer has been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, according to his lawyers, but a Scottish court last November refused to free him on bail.

"While the disease from which the appellant suffers is incurable and may cause his death, he is not at present suffering material pain or disability," Lord Justice General Arthur Hamilton said at the time.

But his wife Aisha told AFP in February that he "is in danger of dying" because of his worsening cancer and complained that he had been refused bail.

On Monday Aisha pleaded anew for her husband’s release.

"I call on the entire world to take pity on my children and the Abdelbaset family," she told AFP by telephone.

"Our only wish is to spend a few days with him before he dies. We have suffered every day these past 10 years. How much longer are we to pay the price of injustice?"

Megrahi was sentenced in 2001 by three Scottish judges sitting at an extraordinary tribunal in The Netherlands for blowing up Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York over Scotland on the night of 21 December 1988.

The blast killed all 259 on board, and another 11 people on the ground were killed by falling debris.

Megrahi has repeatedly protested his innocence, and his lawyers are set to appeal the verdict for a second time later this year.

The bombing plunged ties between oil-rich Libya and the West into a deep chill that has thawed in recent years.

In August 2003 Libya agreed compensation for the victims of the bombing after months of talks with British and US officials, prompting the lifting of UN sanctions in September.

In early 2004, weeks after Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi announced Tripoli was abandoning efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, the United States restored ties with Tripoli that were severed in 1981.

Washington announced a full normalisation of ties in 2006, dropping Libya from a State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The last hurdle to normal relations was removed in October 2008 when Libya paid the United States USD 1.5 billion (EUR 1.2 billion, CHF 1.7 billion) as part of a settlement to compensate families of Libyan terrorist attacks.

AFP / Expatica