Tripoli lobbies for return of jailed Lockerbie bomber

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is lobbying to block the imminent transfer of Lockerbie prisoner Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from Glasgow's Barlinnie prison to a facility 30 miles away as part of a campaign to have him serve his life sentence in Libya or another Muslim country.

The government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is lobbying to block the imminent transfer of Lockerbie prisoner Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from Glasgow's Barlinnie prison to a facility 30 miles away as part of a campaign to have him serve his life sentence in Libya or another Muslim country.

Libyan government officials have written to the United Nations claiming that transferring Megrahi from Barlinnie jail breaches the agreement that led to Tripoli handing over two suspects for trial. Libya has also complained to Britain.

"The Libyans learned that the Scottish authorities were planning to move him to another prison," said Saad Djebbar, a London lawyer who has represented the oil-rich country over the Lockerbie case. "They said if this is about cost, this is an opportunity for us to take him to a third country."

In January 2001, Megrahi was convicted at a special court in the Netherlands of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in which 270 people were killed. He was sentenced to life while his co-accused was found not guilty.

Since his conviction, Megrahi, 52, has been held alone in a special wing at Glasgow's Barlinnie prison - nicknamed Gaddafi's cafe. His wife and family live nearby.

But the Scottish Prison Service is about to move Megrahi to Greenock jail, about 30 miles away, for "operational reasons". It says it was never intended that he should remain in Barlinnie.

Libya has said that not only would the transfer breach an agreement it reached with the UN, but that Megrahi would be serving his sentence in a prison used for inmates coming to the end of their sentences.

"If the other people around him are ready to go home that would drain him psychologically," said Mr Djebbar. Concerns have also been raised about his safety among other prisoners.

Libya wants Megrahi to serve his remaining sentence at home. Before Christmas, on the 16th anniversary of the bombing, lawyers acting for Libya wrote to the families of the Lockerbie victims asking them to support Megrahi's release on "humanitarian and religious grounds".

A spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, said it received a letter of complaint from Libya but it is understood the organisation does not intend to intervene.

Comments