Minister meeting Lockerbie bomber in prison

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Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will meet the Lockerbie bomber today as he considers a request to return the prisoner to Libya.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi has terminal prostate cancer and has also lodged a separate application for compassionate release, which Mr MacAskill is considering.

The pair will meet in Greenock prison where Megrahi is serving a life sentence for his 2001 conviction for blowing up Pan Am flight 103 21 years ago, which left 270 people dead.

Mr MacAskill has said that political and economic factors will not influence his decision and that a 90-day deadline on the prisoner transfer will not be met.

The minister has spoken to the US Attorney General and the US and British families of the Lockerbie bomb victims.

Megrahi, who has always claimed he is innocent, is appealing against his conviction for the bombing - Mr MacAskill cannot grant the prisoner a transfer while this appeal goes through the courts.

But the minister can still consider the application from Libya.

It emerged earlier this month that no decision on the appeal against conviction will be reached until the autumn, after one of the judges involved had heart surgery.

SNP backbencher Christine Grahame, who has already met Megrahi in jail, said he should be given compassionate release.

This would allow his appeal to continue - unlike the prison transfer option.

Ms Grahame, MSP for South of Scotland, said she believed there had been a miscarriage of justice.

But she added: "The trouble with a prisoner transfer is it will never be resolved through the Scottish courts.

"The appeal must proceed, and justice be done and seen to be done."

Asked if Mr MacAskill's visit set a "very dangerous precedent", she replied: "I think it's appropriate that when someone's considering what's to happen to someone who's terminally ill and in prison that all aspects are examined."