October 21, 2009 / 3:29 PM / 10 years ago

Lockerbie bomber still alive, Libyan official says

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi sits in a wheelchair in his room at a hospital in Tripoli September 9, 2009. REUTERS/Ismail Zetouny

LONDON (Reuters) - Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi is still alive, a Libyan official and Megrahi’s Scottish lawyer said on Wednesday, dismissing a report that he had died.

“Megrahi’s condition is stable. He’s alive,” the Libyan official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

“It’s absolutely untrue,” lawyer Tony Kelly told Reuters when asked if he could confirm a Sky News report that his client had died. “He’s definitely not dead.”

“I’m not saying anything about his health condition other than the fact he is alive and breathing,” Kelly said.

Scottish authorities released Megrahi, a Libyan agent convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing in which 270 people were killed, on compassionate grounds in August.

The decision to free Megrahi, who is terminally ill with prostate cancer, and to let him return home to Libya angered the U.S. government and relatives of the 189 Americans killed when Pan Am flight 103 exploded.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government denies pressing the devolved Scottish government to free Megrahi to help improve business ties with Libya, which has Africa’s largest oil reserves.

The British Foreign Office could not confirm the Sky report and the Scottish government said it was checking. No one could immediately be reached for comment at the Libyan Embassy.

Additional reporting by Lamine Ghanmi in Rabat; Reporting by Michael Holden, Avril Ormsby, Adrian Croft; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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