Lockberbie bomber was not about to die: report

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Scottish authorities were aware of treatments that would have kept alive the Libyan man convicted in the Lockerbie plane bombing, but they released him on compassionate grounds anyway, a report says.

According to an article in the latest issue of Vanity Fair magazine, Scottish officials were discussing putting Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi on anti-cancer treatments that typically prolong life by as much as 19 months or more.

Instead, he was released from prison in Scotland in August 2009 after medical authorities determined he could die within three months -- the cut-off point for being releasing a prisoner on compassionate grounds.

"Whatever the possible treatment scenarios, none of them is consistent with the notion that Megrahi had only three months to live," Vanity Fair said. "But three months was the officially desired prognosis. Megrahi was sent home, where he was met with a hero's welcome."

Megrahi, convicted in the 1988 attack on Pan Am flight 103 that killed 270 people, remains alive today. He is undergoing chemotherapy.

Vanity Fair's report suggested that the rules were changed in order to placate the North African country's ruler Moamer Kadhafi and ease relations for British businesses in Libya.

Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister, called the article "balderdash," the Daily Telegraph reported.

However US lawmakers probing the 1988 atrocity -- in which most victims were Americans -- said the report mirrored their own findings.

"The news that the Scottish Government traded a convicted terrorist in exchange for 50 million pounds is sickening," Senator Robert Menendez said.

"The Scottish government's repeated denials, even when confronted by specific and compelling evidence, get more ludicrous by the day."

© 2011 AFP

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