Mystery surrounded the Lockerbie bomber Tuesday after he could not be reached at his home or hospital in Libya.
Libyan officials could say nothing about the whereabouts of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, and his Scottish monitors could not contact him by telephone. They will try again to speak to him today but if they fail to reach him, the Scottish government could face a new crisis.
Under the terms of his release from jail, the bomber cannot change his address or leave Tripoli, and must keep in regular communication with East Renfrewshire Council.
Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic and relatives of the 270 people who died in the 1988 bombing expressed anger about al-Megrahi’s disappearance. Richard Baker, Labour's justice spokesman in the Scottish Parliament, said the whole affair was turning into a shambles and putting Scotland's reputation at risk. "This flags up just how ludicrous it is that East Renfrewshire Council, a local council thousands of miles away from Libya, is responsible for supervising al-Megrahi’s conditions of licence," he said.
Eliot Engel, a New York congressman, said: "I think it was a tremendous mistake to let him out in the first place. I don’t think a convicted terrorist has any integrity to abide by any type of agreement."
Relatives of the victims were furious in August when Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, released al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds because he was expected to die of prostate cancer within three months.