The Lockerbie bomber has secretly resumed hospital chemotherapy sessions in an attempt to beat his cancer, the Daily Mail has revealed.
A year after Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was sent home to Libya to die with just three months to live, he is now making regular trips to a top medical centre for the “very best care that money can buy”.
Earlier this year, his family claimed that all conventional treatment had stopped and he was solely relying on alternative medicine and positive thinking to ease his pain.
But the Mail has learned he is once again receiving help from cancer specialists, which his family hope will provide a “miracle cure” and extend his life still further – possibly by more than 18 months.
According to sources in Tripoli, the new treatment is “going well”, although the Libyan is apparently suffering from “black moods” over the negative way Britain and the West is portraying his case.
With no further aid, a patient might be expected to live for about another year – far more than the three months predicted for the Lockerbie bomber a year ago.
Studies show that patients given taxotere every three weeks could, on average, expect to live for a further 18.9 months from the commencement of treatment.
For a man who was said to be on the verge of death a year ago, such an extension to his life would represent the “miracle” for which his family are hoping.
In practice, taxotere is given as a drip infusion with a steroid in a course of 10 cycles every three to four weeks. It is used to control symptoms and prolong life, not to cure prostate cancer.
It can shrink and slow down the growth of the cancer and control pain. Side effects vary from patient to patient, but include an increased risk of developing an infection, anaemia, tiredness, hair loss, diarrhoea or sickness.
The news is certain to fuel the bitter debate over the decision to free the 58-year-old from jail in Scotland on compassionate grounds.
“He is living at home but visits the centre for chemotherapy and for other intensive treatment,” said a source in Tripoli. “All the latest treatments are available to him – it is the very best that money can buy.”
With this coming Friday marking the first anniversary of the convicted terrorist’s triumphant return, the revelations of the resumption of his treatment were met with fierce criticism by the families of Lockerbie victims.
Susan Cohen, 72, of New Jersey, who lost her 20-year-old daughter Theodora in the 1988 bombing, said: “There really is no end to this horrible thing. Who knows how long he has got.
“All I know is that he’s doing better than I am, because it is my daughter’s birthday on 10 September and before it and after it I’m going to be miserable.”
News of the new treatment emerged days after US senators called on Scottish officials to release the medical advice they received before releasing Megrahi.
On 10 August last year, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was told that Megrahi had just three months to live because of prostate cancer. He was returned to his homeland 10 days later.
Initially he went home to his wife and five grown-up children and spent the first few days inside the two-storey villa in a Tripoli suburb, before entering hospital for his first bout of chemotherapy.
That ended in December and he returned to the villa where, two months later, his elderly father Ali said he was hoping for a “miracle”.
Four months ago, Professor Karol Sikora, the London-based cancer specialist who examined Megrahi on behalf of the Scottish authorities and predicted that he would be dead by last October, predicted that the Libyan would be dead within a month.
He said: “My understanding is that he is bed-bound, at home, not going to hospital, receiving palliative care and no active treatment at all.”
Megrahi is believed to be receiving chemotherapy in the form of infusions of Taxotere.
This is a liquid that is absorbed into the blood after being administered by an intravenous drip. The drug effectively breaks up cancer cells.
Although the gruelling treatment is “going well”, according to the source, it has left Megrahi feeling depressed. He also complains of black moods because of the negative way his case has been portrayed around the world, and especially in Britain and America.
Megrahi has always maintained his innocence of Britain’s worst ever terrorist atrocity, believing he will one day prove this beyond doubt.
The source in Tripoli said: “His number one aim is to prove he had nothing to do with the Lockerbie bombing, and this is the reason he is putting so much effort into regaining his health.”
According to the terms of his release from Scotland, Megrahi is not allowed to leave his family’s home in the New Damascus suburb of west Tripoli. The house has been converted to include all mod cons, and is under 24-hour guard by the Libyan authorities.
Since Megrahi’s release, Libya has invested millions in Britain, with UK companies also launching massively lucrative contracts in the North African country.
Critics believe Downing Street colluded with the Scots to pave the way by having Megrahi freed.