September 4, 2009 / 2:44 PM / 9 years ago

Libya's Megrahi out of emergency room: hospital source

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Doctors have moved the man convicted over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing out of an emergency care unit at a Libyan hospital but he remains under close observation, a hospital source told Reuters on Friday.

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was released from prison in Scotland last month on the grounds that he has prostate cancer and does not have long to live. The United States, and opposition parties in Britain, have criticized the decision to release him.

A Libyan official said earlier this week Megrahi had been admitted to an emergency unit at the Tripoli Medical Center and that his condition was poor.

“Mr Megrahi is out of the emergency room and intensive care but is under close observation by a team of doctors,” the hospital source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Friday.

“The hospital has formed a committee to assess his state of health and plans to issue a statement either tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” said the source.

The source did not say why Megrahi had been in the emergency unit and did not provide further details about his condition.

Megrahi was the only person convicted over the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 above the Scottish town of Lockerbie, in which 270 people were killed. He received a rapturous welcome when he arrived home in Libya last month.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the release of Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, was a mistake. The majority of the victims of the bombing were U.S. citizens.

The British government has also been accused by domestic opponents of backing Megrahi’s release in a drive to improve ties with Libya, where British firms are seeking greater access to the North African state’s oil and gas reserves.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday rejected the allegations, saying the decision to release the Libyan was made by Scotland’s devolved government with no pressure applied from London.

Reporting by Ali Shuaib; Writing by Tom Pfeiffer and Christian Lowe; Editing by Giles Elgood

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