15 Aug 2009

Libyan drops appeal over Lockerbie bombing

10:08 pm on 15 August 2009

The former Libyan agent who was jailed for life for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing has applied to abandon his second appeal against his conviction.

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, 57, who is dying of prostate cancer, can only be considered for repatriation under a prisoner transfer agreement if he gives up the appeal.

Unconfirmed reports have said the Scottish government is planning to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

Megrahi, who lost his first appeal in 2002, made a separate application to the Scottish authorities in July to be released due to his severe illness, his lawyer said.

The court in Edinburgh will meet on Tuesday to consider the request to drop the appeal.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill would make the final decision on whether to release Megrahi, either under the prisoner transfer agreement between Britain and Libya or due to illness.

Megrahi was convicted under Scottish law at a trial in the Netherlands of blowing up a Boeing 747 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie as it flew from London to New York, and was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

The bomb killed 270 people - all 259 on board the plane and 11 on the ground.

The US State Department said Megrahi should spend the rest of his life in jail.