[This is the headline over an article just published on the website of Time magazine. The last three questions are as follows:]
Did Scottish officials persuade Al-Megrahi to drop his legal appeal before going home?
With no explanation, Al-Megrahi dropped his appeal against his conviction shortly before he was freed. Some relatives of Lockerbie victims suspect Scottish officials might have persuaded Al-Megrahi to end his appeal — possibly in exchange for a smoother release — perhaps to avoid raising potentially embarrassing questions about the original trial, held in Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in 2001 and 2002. "Most of us [relatives of Lockerbie victims] here feel that there is something extremely murky, which the US and British governments don't want to come out," John Mosey, a British pastor whose 19-year-old daughter died aboard the Pan Am plane, tells Time. Jim Swire, whose 24-year-old daughter was killed in the Lockerbie attack, says Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill did something "very unwise. He went to see Al-Megrahi in prison ... then Al-Megrahi dropped his appeal, and then MacAskill decided to send him home." Swire, who has fought a long campaign to reveal the truth behind the Lockerbie attack, says that suggests possible persuasion. But, so far, there's no proof of any.
Could Al-Megrahi have been innocent?
US Senators are not aiming for a retrial, but they might focus on the controversies surrounding Al-Megrahi's imprisonment. Swire, Mosey, and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's envoy to the Lockerbie trial, Austrian law professor Hans Köchler, are among those who have long argued that the trial leading to Al-Megrahi's conviction was deeply flawed. In 2007, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, a publicly funded body that investigates possible wrongful convictions, issued an 800-page report listing several grounds for an appeal by Al-Megrahi, including inconsistencies in the testimony of the key prosecution witness and the existence of CIA documents about the Swiss-made timer for the bomb, which defense lawyers had not seen. So far, the full report has not been released publicly.
How is Al-Megrahi still alive?
This is hardly something on which the US Senate will focus, but at least one survivor of the Lockerbie victims is curious as to how Libya's doctors have kept Al-Megrahi alive in Tripoli. Swire, a British medical doctor, says he studied survival rates for cancer patients with conditions similar to Al-Megrahi's and concluded that only about 10% of them could live this long. "He was regarded as hopeless," he says. Al-Megrahi's survival suggests that Libya might have used start-of-the-art medicine on him. "If there is some new technology which has been offered to him it would be good to know," he says. "It is very, very encouraging in terms of medicine." Although surely not so encouraging for those who, predicting his quick demise, sent him home one year ago.