missing: Megrahi cannot be contacted.
Reports last night suggested that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi left his modern villa at the weekend when rebel troops made a sudden advance on the capital.
Megrahi’s neighbour, Dr Hussein Barba, said: “This man knows too many things. Gaddafi has taken him with him, wherever he is.”
The property’s tall iron gates stood locked last night and a security guard who used to protect the house had vanished.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said attempts were being made to contact rebel leaders in Libya to determine Megrahi’s whereabouts and ensure that he was still available for monitoring under the terms of his release.
As the Libyan rebels headed towards Gaddafi’s home city of Sirte, Mr MacAskill -- who two years ago controversially freed Megrahi on compassionate grounds -- referred to him as “a Scottish prisoner”.
He said: “We are entering into communications. These matters are difficult but we are seeking to make sure we lock on to the authorities. At present, there is some doubt as to just which parts of Tripoli are controlled by whom. So, we seek to enter into discussions with the appropriate authorities.”
East Renfrewshire Council is the supervising authority and, until now, has been in regular contact with Megrahi -- who was convicted of killing 270 people when Pan Am flight 103 came down over Lockerbie in 1988. A spokesman said that, despite attempts every day this week to contact Megrahi, who has been receiving treatment for prostate cancer at a Tripoli medical centre, the local authority had failed to contact him.
It is East Renfrewshire that will determine whether the convicted terrorist has breached the terms of his release licence. These include keeping in regular contact and producing monthly medical reports.
However, it is thought the Scottish Government would ensure the Libyan was recalled to prison, if it was deemed he had breached his licence.
This week, Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy, Nick Clegg, made clear they believed Megrahi should be put back behind bars while William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, urged First Minister Alex Salmond to review Megrahi’s status “urgently”.
In the US, there are growing calls for Megrahi to be reincarcerated, with some senators and relatives of the bombing victims demanding his extradition to the US to stand trial there.
The Herald has been told that, on the ground in Libya, a race is now on between US and UK special forces to find and seize the convicted terrorist.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Gordon Brown has been rebuffed in his attempt to get a UK Government report on Megrahi changed.
In February, Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, concluded the Labour Government did “all it could” to facilitate the Libyan’s release. In six strongly-worded letters Mr Brown insisted he “did not propose, initiate, lead, adopt, or even know of a policy called facilitation” in relation to Megrahi. But Sir Gus said Government papers showed “facilitation” was the policy agreed by UK ministers. He has refused to change his report.