This Friday is the one year anniversary of the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. He was released on “humanitarian grounds,” because he was given only three months to live by leading cancer specialist, Professor Karol Sikora. Sikora’s prognosis was a bit off as the mass-murderer is still alive.
To add insult to injury today Sikora strongly attacked the way his prognosis was portrayed. He said he would have made his evidence “more vague” if he could have foreseen that it was going to be interpreted as a fact that al-Megrahi was going to die within three months.
Excuse me? What the heck did he think? He said the guy is going to die in around three months. Did he expect that people would laugh and say “Karol you are such a kidder?”
It was the worst terrorist attack in Britain’s history, the deadliest assault on U.S. civilians until 9/11 and a political powder keg that roiled governments around the world.
On Dec. 21, 1988, a bomb exploded in the forward cargo hold of Pan Am Flight 103, a jetliner flying from London to New York. Within less than a minute, the Boeing 747 splintered into thousands of pieces and fell 31,000 feet, smashing down in the village of Lockerbie, Scotland. The impact killed 11 villagers and destroyed 21 homes. None of the 259 people on board the aircraft survived. Thanks in part to Dr Karol Sikora’s opinion Scottish courts showed more mercy to al-Megrahi than he showed to the people he killed.
In an interview the UK Guardian Dr Karol Sikora says ‘I just provided an opinion. Someone else let him go free
Sikora denied that he succumbed to pressure from Libya to agree al-Megrahi had under three months to live so that he could be returned to Libya on compassionate grounds. “I felt, on the balance of probability, you could justify that [claim], but you couldn’t say he was definitely going to be dead in three months,” he said.
“It’s not like in the films when the oncologist says ‘I’m sorry you have three months to live’. There’s a huge spectrum for every clinical situation. When I was asked ‘Is he likely to die in three months?’, my opinion was that he was. If you look at the survival curve, there’s about a 60% chance of someone being dead in three months, but that doesn’t mean he will die in three months. The legal side has to have it one way or another; it [the prognosis] can’t be mousey. If I did it again, I’d really test the grounds for compassionate release. This three months [rule] – is it based on the balance of probability or more than that? Is it beyond reasonable doubt?” Sikora said it was not the job of doctors to deal in certainty, but to make politicians and lawyers aware of the spectrum of potential outcomes when asked to assess how long a terminally ill patient had to live: “If I could go back in time I would have probably been more vague and tried to emphasise the statistical chances and not hard fact.”
“In medicine we say ‘Never say never and never say always’, because funny things happen. All you can do is give a statistical opinion, and that’s fraught because the media, the law, and indeed patients, don’t like statistical opinion. They want to know ‘Is it this or is it that?’ A court is all about guilty or not guilty.” He questioned whether the law governing compassionate release if a prisoner had only three months to live was established under Scottish law: “There was no written rule about compassionate release. Was it three months or not?”
And he said if he were to do it again he would suggest “setting up some independent review panel that would include maybe four or five experts”.
How about if he were to do it again, making the S.O.B. rot in jail. This guy is a Mass Murder.
He added: “What I find difficult is the idea I took the key and let him out. I provided an opinion, others provided an opinion, and someone else let him out. That decision of compassionate release is nothing to do with me. No one asked me, ‘Should we let him out?’ All they said was when do you think he will die?”
And he never the rumors that Britain was looking for a way to release al-Megrah on compassionate grounds?
There has been wild speculation that al-Megrahi never had cancer, but Sikora said he had no doubts. “Initially I thought he had 18 months, but when I saw the data, the blood tests and X-ray reports and spoke to the prison doctor, who had observed the pace of the disease, I thought it would be much quicker.” When he examined al-Megrahi, Sikora said he saw a “man that was hunted. He looked ill.” His impression was of a “highly intelligent guy who took copious notes and asked the right questions”.
Al-Megrahi’s longevity should not be too much of a surprise, Sikora argued: “There is some fascinating data of people wanting to live much longer and succeeding.
Maybe next time Dr Sikora is called on to give a diagnosis that will end up releasing a terrorist, he will realize that the people the terrorist murdered also wanted to live longer. Not once in this entire interview did express remorse for the fact that this mass-murderer was living the “good-life” in Libya. Nor did he once did show feelings for the family members of the Lockerbie terrorist’s victims partly because of his prognosis.
One year after he was released Abdelbaset al-Megrahi still walks the face of the earth, and Dr. Sikora is still making excuses for letting him go.