Lockerbie bomber has cancer, appeals for bail

October 31st, 2008 - 2:39 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 31 (IANS) A former Libyan intelligence official now in a Scottish jail for masterminding the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie in Scotland has appealed for interim bail as he is suffering from advanced prostate cancer.Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi has applied for the interim bail pending the outcome of his appeal against his conviction. A court in Edinburgh will hear the application next Thursday, The Times has reported.

He is serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 27 years after being convicted in 2001 of bombing Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York on Dec 21, 1988. All 259 men, women and children on board died, along with 11 residents in the Scottish border town of Lockerbie where the plane crashed after being blown up by a bomb.

He lost an appeal in 2002, but was given a fresh chance to clear his name in June last year when the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) referred his case back to appeal judges for a second time. His appeal is due to be heard next year.

The Lockerbie bombing is considered the worst ever terrorist attack against the United States till the Sep 11, 2001 attack. Of the 270 victims, 180 were American citizens.

There were three Indians on the flight, Anmol Rattan, Garima Rattan and three-year-old Suruchi Rattan. Suruchi was wearing a red salwar kameez on the flight. She became associated with a note left with flowers outside Lockerbie town hall that read: “To the little girl in the red dress who lies here who made my flight from Frankfurt such fun. You didn’t deserve this. God Bless, Chas.”

The Rattan family, from Michigan, US, had flown from Frankfurt to London to board the ill-fated Pan Am aircraft.

One of the luckiest ’survivors’ was Jaswant Basuta, an American of Indian descent. He was booked on the flight, but he got drunk in the passenger lounge after checking in, and sprinted to the gate to find the aircraft’s doors had just been closed. He pleaded for the doors to be re-opened, but Pan Am officials refused. Forty minutes later, he heard the plane had been bombed.

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