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Sunday, July 11, 1999 Published at 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK


Security review for Lockerbie suspects

Camp Zeist: Guarded by 140 police and prison officers

Scottish police and prison officers guarding the Libyan suspects in the Lockerbie bombing could be partly replaced by private security guards.

The UK Government said on Sunday the proposals, if they went ahead, would cut the cost of guarding the suspects in the Netherlands.

[ image: al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah: One of the suspects]
al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah: One of the suspects
Abdel Baset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi and al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah are being guarded by officers from Dumfries and Galloway Police at the former military base Camp Zeist.

Camp Zeist has officially been renamed HMP Zeist until the suspects leave.

A spokesman for the Scottish Office confirmed it was carrying out a review to consider the use of private security guards to achieve "best value for money".

But she said the replacements would only be considered for non-sensitive areas and that the suspects themselves would continue to be guarded by police and prison officers.

[ image: Abdel Baset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi: Trial could last for up to a year]
Abdel Baset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi: Trial could last for up to a year
Around 100 police officers and 40 prison guards are guarding the Libyan suspects at the camp, 40 miles from Amsterdam.

The UK and US governments are currently footing the bill for the security operation.

There have been a number of security breaches at the camp since it became Scottish territory when the suspects arrived in April.

On one occasion prison officers were caught taking photographs of themselves at the base.

[ image: Lockerbie crash: 270 people died]
Lockerbie crash: 270 people died
On another occasion, three prison officers were sent home after they were caught wandering around the compound without permission.

No date has been set for the start of the trial but it has been estimated that it could last for up to a year.

The men are accused under Scots law of charges of conspiracy, murder and "contravention of the Aviation Security Act 1982". The trial must begin on or before 4 February 2000.

The disaster in December 1988 killed 270 people on the plane and on the ground in Lockerbie.

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