Thursday, 25 August 2011

Megrahi 'flees Tripoli with Col Gaddafi' rumour

[The following are excerpts from a report published this evening on The Telegraph website:]

Standing outside the smart modern two-storey villa belonging to Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi in the upmarket Hay Damascus suburb of Tripoli, [neighbours] said he had not been seen since the rebels’ sudden advance on the capital. (...)

“This man knows too many things,” Hussein Barba, a Canadian-educated doctor who lives behind Mr Megrahi’s house said. “Gaddafi has taken him with him, wherever he is.”

Some neighbours said they believed that Mr Megrahi’s wife was still living in the house. Though resolutely anti-Gaddafi, they also demonstrated Mr Megrahi’s ambiguous position in a society where many believe he is innocent of the accusation of placing the suitcase bomb on Pan-Am 103, killing 270 people, in December 1988.

They said they had promised to protect his house while he was away and prevent anyone trying to get in, whether or not his wife was still there.

One said his son was still living in the area – along with his father’s BMW – and staying with friends, though he refused to say where. “He goes from place to place to check on things,” he said. “He was an ordinary person, not involved with the government. He had no reason to leave.”

The Scottish justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, said officials were trying to contact rebel leaders in Libya to ensure Mr Megrahi would continue with the monitoring that was a requirement under the terms of his early release from prison on compassionate grounds. (...)

“Tripoli and Libya is a war zone and until the dust of battle settles I think we have to allow them to continue to make the efforts that they’re doing,” he said.

“Hospitals are overrun, the British embassy is having difficulties operating, so I think East Renfrewshire have done a good job to date and I fully support them in the efforts they’re making.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said: “The next appointed date for scheduled contact with Al-Megrahi by the criminal justice social work service of East Renfrewshire Council is not for some time.

“He has not been in breach of his licence conditions to date, and if these circumstances were to change then that would be a matter for discussion with the new duly constituted authorities in Libya.

“As the Justice Secretary has said, we have already established a line of communication with the National Transitional Council in London.” A spokesman for Mr MacAskill added that Megrahi had never been under house arrest as part of his release conditions and was allowed to come and go from his property in Tripoli.

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