Lockerbie bomber's mysterious disappearance set to embarrass Scottish govt.

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London, Dec. 16 (ANI): In a vanishing act that may cause further embarrassment to the Scottish government, Lockerbie bomber Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi has disappeared mysteriously, as his Scottish monitors were unable to contact him at home or in hospital in Libya.

Under the terms of his release from Scottish jail, al-Megrahi cannot change his address or leave Tripoli, and must keep in regular communication with East Renfrewshire Council.

However, on Tuesday, Libyan officials failed to reveal al-Megrahi's whereabouts.

The mysterious disappearance surfaced on Sunday when a team of The Times visited the bomber's and was told by one of three security officers sitting in a grey Mercedes car outside said: "They've all gone." He refused to elaborate.

When the crew alerted Jonathan Hinds, of East Renfrewshire Council, about the incident, he tried to telephone al-Megrahi at his home, but was told that al-Megrahi was too ill to speak.

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 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".

Politicians and relatives of the 270 people who died in the 1988 bombing expressed anger about al-Megrahi's disappearance.

Richard Baker, Labour's justice spokesman in the Scottish Parliament, said: "This flags up just how ludicrous it is that East Renfrewshire Council, a local council thousands of miles away from Libya, is responsible for supervising al-Megrahi's conditions of licence." (ANI)

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