Friday, 12 August 2011

Barrhead is still watching Megrahi

[This is the headline over a report on the website of the Barrhead News. It reads as follows:]

Convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is still being properly monitored from Barrhead's social work office - even although his country is engulfed in civil war.

East Renfrewshire Council made that assurance this week while arguments raged over whether terminally ill Megrahi - controversially released on permanent bail on compassionate grounds - should be seized by rebel fighters and surrendered to the US to stand trial in America.

In a further twist a Justice For Megrahi group, who claim he's innocent, want the rebels to send him back to Scotland instead if he ends up in their custody. [RB: Not a very accurate summary of JFM's query to the Scottish Government.]

Last week the bail deal again came under scrutiny after news footage showed him in a wheelchair attending a rally in support of Libyan dictator Colonel Gadafi.

They argue the Holyrood government should declare an "open door" policy for the bailed prisoner to save him from any bid to have him tried, as they see it unfairly, in the USA.

East Ren Council has acquired its bizarre supervision role because Megrahi's family lived in the area when he was in prison in Scotland appealing his sentence.

East Ren is still his technical bail address even although his family had returned home to Libya and he was allowed to join them

When he was released after medical advice said he was dying the council was automatically handed the task of keeping tabs on him.

However despite the extraordinary circumstances, the council says that so far Megrahi hasn't done anything to breach his bail conditions.

"We're able to monitor him in exactly the same way as we would somebody released under conditions in Barrhead," said a council spokesman.

He said if he did break the bail terms - for example he can't leave Libya - it would be for the Scottish Government to decide what action to take.

A council social worker in Barrhead speaks to Megrahi regularly by phone or computer webcam link, and there's no suggestion he's failing to cooperate.

East Renfrewshire Council also has an up-to-date picture of his health, said its spokesman, but as with any other bailed prisoner isn't at liberty to give details.

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