September 12, 2009 / 3:47 PM / 9 years ago

Libyan Lockerbie bomber's health worsens: brother

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The health of the terminally ill Libyan convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing has deteriorated markedly in the past day, his brother and doctors said on Saturday.

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

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was released from prison in Scotland and allowed to return home 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, criticized the decision to release the man who was sentenced to life in prison in 2001 for his part in blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988, killing 270 people.

“He is at a special ward at Tripoli Medical Center. His condition has deteriorated rapidly since yesterday. He is unable to speak to anyone,” his brother Abdenasser Megrahi told Reuters inside the center.

“His situation is worrying. His temperature is at 39.5 degrees (103.1 Fahrenheit),” he added. Normal human body temperature is around 37C (98.6F).

“He has chemotherapy treatment at his hospital ward,” said his brother. Doctors attending to the patient confirmed Abdenasser’s statement but they declined to give more details.

LAB RESULTS

“We are expecting the result of lab exams from Germany to arrive here before a special committee of doctors release a statement on his health circumstances,” one of the doctors told Reuters, asking not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A Reuters correspondent who had been due to interview Megrahi from his hospital bed was able to enter his room but found him unable to speak.

Megrahi, the only person convicted over the Lockerbie bombing, received a rapturous welcome when he arrived home in Libya last month.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the release of the 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.

The government has rejected the allegations, insisting the decision to release the Libyan was made by Scotland’s devolved government with no pressure applied from London.

On Wednesday, Megrahi had appeared in a relatively better condition when he was met by African parliamentarians at a conference room at the Medical Center, to which he was taken in a wheelchair, doctors said on Saturday.

Writing by Lamine Ghanmi; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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