Monday, 5 April 2010

Lockerbie bomber to die ‘within next month’

[This is the headline over a report in yesterday's edition of The Sunday Times. It reads in part:]

The Lockerbie bomber is expected to die “within four weeks” of the terminal cancer that led to his release from a British prison.

Karol Sikora, a British cancer specialist who advised the Scottish government on Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi’s illness before he was freed, said that the convicted terrorist was spending his final days bed-ridden and on morphine.

He dismissed claims that the seriousness of the Libyan bomber’s condition had been exaggerated to secure his release.

Mr Sikora, who is being regularly updated by a doctor in Tripoli, said that al-Megrahi’s cancer had spread from his prostate to his kidneys, liver, pelvis and lymph nodes.

“I say he will be dead within four weeks. My understanding is that he’s bed-bound, at home, not going to the hospital, receiving palliative care and no active treatment at all,” he added.

Doctors have stopped al-Megrahi’s hospital visits in the past few weeks after he ceased responding to chemotherapy and other treatments.

Mr Sikora, medical director of CancerPartnersUK and dean of Buckingham University medical school, was one of three doctors who gave advice before al-Megrahi’s release on compassionate grounds last August from Greenock prison. (...)

MSPs have questioned Mr Sikora’s position. Bill Aitken, justice spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “I’m not a clinician, but Karl Sikora’s previous prognosis has been shown to be wildly inaccurate.

“I suppose we will just have to wait and see what happens, but even still, there is immense anger and bitterness that the biggest mass murderer in UK history has been released and survived for a period of almost eight months when he was supposed to be at death’s door.”

Mr Sikora said that al-Megrahi’s life may have been extended by the “psychological boost” he received from being surrounded by his family.

The cancer specialist is understood to be updated by Ibrahim Sherif, al-Megrahi’s British-trained doctor in Libya.

Abdurrhman Swessi, the Libyan consul general in Glasgow, a post established to deal with al-Megrahi’s case, said that the bomber’s health was rapidly deteriorating: “It’s much, much worse.” (...)

Commercial considerations were key to his release. In 2007 Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, wrote to Mr MacAskill that it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make him eligible for return to Libya.

[A similar report is published today in The Scotsman. It can be read here.]


  1. "Dr Simpson, a former member of the British Association of Urological Surgeons' prostate cancer working group who specialised in prostate disease research, expressed doubt that Megrahi would die within the next three months and claimed that Megrahi could live for eight months."

    This would make him pretty accurate, if it is. I'm not sure what Dr Simpson was basing that on...

  2. Not to sound cold, as this isn't a horse race but a death we're dealing with. I feel bad for Megrahi and his family in a time of fear, turmoil, loss, etc. It's certainly better than what the PA103 victims got, as so widely noted.

    Not that there's a moral equivalency, just you can get a little numbed. Stuff happens, right?