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Megrahi is so ill he could die if he gets a cold

The health of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has worsened and experts say “a cold could finish him off”.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Libyan who was freed early from prison last August because he was expected to die within three months, has failed to respond to chemotherapy.

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According to the latest bulletin about his condition, all treatment for prostate cancer has stopped and he is now receiving only palliative care.

Doctors are also said to be concerned that he is struggling to come to terms with his prognosis.

East Renfrewshire Council and the Scottish Government is sent a monthly report on Megrahi’s progress but there has been growing scepticism about the various medical views involved because the Libyan has survived for 11 months rather than three.

Last month Professor Karol Sikora, who examined Megrahi last summer and gave him less than three months to live, said he could last for up 10 years. Sikora was one of three doctors paid for by the Libyan Government to examine Megrahi.

However, his report has never been read by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who was pilloried internationally for choosing to grant him compassionate release. MacAskill made the decision based on a report by Dr Andrew Fraser, head of health at the Scottish Prison Service, which had itself been based upon the expert opinions of at least two UK consultants and the prison doctor.

A source said: “We’re told that he could survive beyond August 18, but equally that a cold could finish him off. He is extremely unwell and is now only receiving palliative care.”

Megrahi was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer in September 2008.

Doctors have suggested that he has lived far longer than expected because of the positive psychological impact of his release and return to his home and family, as well as the high level of medical attention he has received in Tripoli.

When Megrahi was released last August there was a clamour from politicians, critics and relatives for more information to be released about his medical condition and the decision to let him fly home to Tripoli.

It is thought that when he dies, medical reports will be released, though there are other documents unlikely to be released.

The Herald revealed last month that hundreds of pages of information, pinpointing why the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing should be granted a fresh appeal, will remain secret.

The Crown Office, the Foreign Office and police have all failed to give their consent to an official request to disclose the material, as has Megrahi.

The fact the official Lockerbie papers may never be published is likely to prove embarrassing for those who have not allowed disclosure and the ministers who suggested the papers would be published. It will also fuel the frustration of the families of the 270 victims who have waited more than 21 years for answers.

Megrahi was granted fresh leave to appeal in June 2007, based on the three-and-a-half-year probe by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, but the appeal suffered delays and last summer he dropped the case to improve his chances of returning home to Libya.

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