Undated Crown Office handout of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of murdering 270 people by blowing up Pan-Am flight 103 over Lockerbie 13 years earlier, but has always denied any involvement.
Several U.S. senators are blasting the British doctor who diagnosed a convicted terrorist with terminal cancer so he could be released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds.
“There is clear reason to believe that this terrorist was released from prison based on false information about his health,” said New York Senator Chuck Schumer. “This is especially galling to those of us who believed he shouldn’t have been released even if it had been true that his death was imminent.”
Al-Megrahi served just eight years of his life sentence for killing 270 people, including 189 Americans, in the December 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Many were college students returning home for the Christmas holiday.
Schumer, along with New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez expressed their outrage in a letter to the British Ambassador to the United States, Nigel Sheinwald. In the letter, the senators allege that the Lockerbie bomber may have been released in exchange for oil business deals that would benefit British energy companies.
“The latest reports are extremely troubling,” said Gillibrand. “Justice was not served… Al-Megrahi should serve his full sentence and spend the rest of his days in prison.”
Dr. Karol Sikora admitted in an interview with a British newspaper this past weekend that he did receive money from the Libyan government to examine Al-Megrahi. "It's embarrassing that [he] has gone on for this long," Sikora told the Sunday Times of London.
Sikora added he wasn't pressured to make the diagnosis and still believes there was a 50 percent chance Al Megrahi would actually die within three months.
Al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 for bombing the mighty jetliner out of the sky. He was released by order of the Scottish Government after officials there used the doctor's medical claims in part to order the release. The man convicted of mass murder received a hero’s welcome when he landed in his native Libya. He has lived nearly a year in freedom.
Families of the victims have been outraged by the release. They have long suspected the terrorist was released not on compassionate grounds, but rather in a 'blood money' exchange for oil and gas deals. British officials have denied that allegation.
“This terrorist belongs in prison and these allegations must be investigated promptly,” said Lautenberg.