Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, has made a truly remarkable recovery. As you may remember, in December 1988 a bomb exploded in the cargo hold of Pan American flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, causing the aircraft to break into several pieces in the air. 270 people in the plane and on the ground died of decompression, massive trauma and fire.
Megrahi, allegedly a Libyan intelligence officer, was indicted in 1991 but it required the UN to apply sanctions to Libya and protracted negotiations with Libyan dictator Qadaffi before he was finally handed over to Scottish authorities in 1999. In January 2001, Megrahi was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2003, Libya accepted responsibility for the bombing.
Now it gets interesting. An appeal was denied in 2002, and a second appeal was filed in 2007. During the trial of this appeal in 2009, Megrahi asked for release on ‘compassionate grounds’, which may be granted under Scottish law when a convict can be shown to have three months or less to live. His lawyer claimed that he was suffering from terminal prostate cancer and would not survive three months. On August 2009 he was released from prison and flew home to Libya where he received a hero’s welcome.
After his release, Megrahi was supposedly given chemotherapy, which appears to have been more effective than expected. In February 2010, the UK Telegraph reported that
Prof Sikora, one of the examining doctors who was paid a consultancy fee last July  to examine Megrahi, told The Sunday Telegraph this weekend: “My information from Tripoli is that it’s not going to be long [before Megrahi dies].
“They stopped any active treatment in December and he has just been going downhill very slowly at home. He is on high doses of morphine [a painkiller] and it’s any day now.”
Prof Sikora said that he suspected that Megrahi was still alive because he had received a “psychological” boost from returning to his homeland and being reunited with his family…
Prof Sikora said it was just possible that Megrahi would be alive in several years time but added: “It’s highly unlikely. There is a 90 per cent chance he will die in the next few weeks.
Well, here it is June and he’s still hanging on.
Today there is an unexpected topical connection. When Megrahi was released there were claims that the British government pressured Scottish officials to approve the release because of considerations relating to trade — in particular, an oil deal. And guess what oil company was involved?
In his interview today [Sept. 4, 2009], [Foreign Secretary Jack] Straw admits that when he was considering in 2007 whether the bomber should be included in a prisoner transfer agreement (PTA) with Libya, Britain’s trade interests were a crucial factor.
Documents published this week showed Mr Straw originally promised that a PTA would only be reached with Libya if Megrahi was excluded. But he later caved in to Libyan demands to include Megrahi. It followed a warning from BP that a failure to include the bomber could hurt the oil giant’s business interests.
When asked in the interview if trade and BP were factors, Mr Straw admits: “Yes, [it was] a very big part of that. I’m unapologetic about that… Libya was a rogue state.
“We wanted to bring it back into the fold. And yes, that included trade because trade is an essential part of it and subsequently there was the BP deal.” …
A spokesman for BP said the company had raised concerns with the Government about the slow progress in concluding the PTA, but denied mentioning Megrahi.
“Like many others, we were aware that a delay might have negative consequences for UK commercial interests, including ratification of BP’s exploration agreement,” he added.