EDINBURGH, Scotland – A Scottish court refused on Friday to release from prison a cancer-stricken Libyan man convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people.
The court acknowledged that Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi's cancer is incurable, but said he cannot be freed on bail pending an appeal of the case.
Al-Megrahi's lawyers argued that their client should be released because he recently was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and the disease has spread.
But the Court of Criminal Appeal rejected that argument.
"While the disease from which the appellant suffers is incurable and may cause his death, he is not at present suffering material pain or disability. The full services of the National Health Service are available to him, notwithstanding he is in custody," the judges stated in a written opinion. They said if al-Megrahi's condition worsens, they might reconsider their decision.
Al-Megrahi, 56, is serving a life sentence in a prison in Scotland for the bombing the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland. He and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah were prosecuted in The Hague in 2001 for the bombing. Fhimah was acquitted. Al-Megrahi has been trying to appeal his conviction.
He did not appear in court Friday. In a statement released through his legal team, al-Megrahi said, "I am very distressed that the court has refused me bail pending the hearing of my appeal and the chance to spend my remaining time with my family."
The statement added, "I wish to reiterate that I had nothing whatsoever to do with the Lockerbie bombing and that the fight for justice will continue regardless of whether I am alive to witness my name being cleared."