LOCKERBIE, Scotland (AFP) – Lawyers will appear before a Scottish court on Thursday seeking the release of the Libyan man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing on bail.
The hearing has been scheduled after a lawyer for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet Al-Megrahi, 56 — behind bars for downing a transatlantic airliner over Scotland in 1988 killing 270 people — said Al-Megrahi has advanced prostate cancer.
The Crown Office, which handles prosecutions in Scotland, confirmed the hearing but made no further comment. Such applications are usually decided on the day, but a spokesman declined to speculate on when a ruling could be made.
“The Crown will have the opportunity to address the court during the hearing and it would not be appropriate for the Crown to make its position now outwith the court,” he said.
Al-Megrahi is serving life with a minimum term of 27 years in a Scottish prison for blowing up Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on the night of December 21, 1988.
His lawyers have now applied for his release on bail pending an appeal which is not expected until next year.
The father of one of the victims, who has criticised the slow appeals process, backed Al-Megrahi’s provisional release.
“The man has reportedly got months to live,” said Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the bombing and who became a spokesman for the Lockerbie victims’ families in the years following the tragedy.
“My personal feelings are that to force him to remain segregated from his family and his five children for the short remaining time that he may have before him would amount to exquisite torture,” he told the BBC last week.
His lawyer said on October 21 that Al-Megrahi has “advanced” prostate cancer which has spread to other parts of his body, adding that he could not predict how long the Libyan will live.
“Unfortunately, the disease has spread to other parts of his body and is therefore at an advanced stage,” said lawyer Tony Kelly. “We on his legal team are continuing to prepare his appeal.”