Where's that deathly ill Lockerbie bomber?

He may be so seriously ill that he can't talk to anyone but it appears as of now that the released Lockerbie bomber,Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, is not in his home and cannot be reached by phone.

You will recall that al-Magrahi was released from a Scottish prison last August in anticipation of his death from cancer. He was last seen in public in early September.

But Martin Fletcher, Tim Reid and Angus Macleod of the TimesOnline have been unable to track him down despite calls and visits to his house in Tripoli. And the Scottish authorities he was supposed to be reporting to regularly can't reach him either:

On Sunday evening The Times called at the bomber's home in suburban Tripoli. A policeman sitting on a plastic chair outside was asked to deliver a message to al-Megrahi. He spoke no English, but indicated that al-Megrahi was not there.

The next day The Times visited the Tripoli Medical Centre where alMegrahi was treated soon after his return to Libya. The receptionists said he had left the hospital some time ago.

Back at al-Megrahi's home, there was no sign of activity. One of three security officers sitting in a grey Mercedes car outside said: "They've all gone." He refused to elaborate.

Alerted by The Times, Jonathan Hinds, of East Renfrewshire Council, tried to telephone al-Megrahi at his home yesterday. He spoke to a Libyan man who said al-Megrahi was too ill to speak to him.

Mr Hinds has called al-Megrahi every other Tuesday since August, and has always been able to speak to him. Yesterday was not one of the regular Tuesdays, so al-Megrahi would not have been expecting a call.

"We will continue to attempt to call Mr Megrahi tomorrow and will then consider the situation," a council spokesman said. If there were grounds for suspecting al-Megrahi was breaching the terms of his release, "we would report that to the Scottish Government and it would be up to them to decide what action to take".

Not that too many believed the official explanation for al-Magrahi's release but doctors in Scotland gave him weeks to live. But here we are 4 months later and as far as we know, the terrorist is still breathing.

If he has taken a holiday somewhere, the whole issue will be dredged up again and roil the government. But there is a chance he is simply too sick to respond in which case, let us hope the end comes not too easily for the murderer of so many.

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