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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 15:07 GMT
Lockerbie bomber in Scots jail
The Lockerbie bomber will serve his sentence at Barlinnie Prison, Glasgow
Al-Megrahi lost the appeal against his conviction
The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has spent his first night at a prison in Glasgow where he will serve the rest of his life sentence.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was flown by helicopter to Barlinnie Prison on Thursday night, hours after losing his appeal against conviction.

The Libyan had been held at the Camp Zeist compound in the Netherlands compound since the start of his trial in April 1999.

There was increased security around Barlinnie Prison on Thursday evening, with a police helicopter and armed officers keeping watch.

Helicopter hovers over Barlinnie Prison
Al-Megrahi was flown in amid strict security

The M8 motorway, which runs through Glasgow, was closed in both directions while the helicopter landed at the prison.

Two armed escorts accompanied al-Megrahi on the flight to Scotland's largest jail.

In total 270 people died when a Pan Am airliner was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988.

Five appeal judges agreed that there was enough circumstantial evidence to convict al-Megrahi of the bombing.

'Brave but innocent'

Al-Megrahi's brother, Mohamed Ali, said the bomber told his mother not to worry about him during his last phone call home before beginning his life sentence.

Speaking to The Herald newspaper from his home in Tripoli, he added that his brother still maintained his innocence.

Mr Ali said: "He is trusting in Allah. He accepted the decision like a brave man even though he knows he is innocent."

"Nobody from our country and society believes in Western justice. They showed they are below the Third World because they bow to pressure from superior countries."

Medical tests

The Scottish Prison Service said al-Megrahi, 49, would at first be held separately in a special secure unit at the jail, which has been dubbed "Gaddafi's Cafe".

Barlinnie Prison
The bomber will serve his sentence at Barlinnie

But it said he would not receive special treatment "except where safety provisions require it".

He will first be "processed" - undergoing medical and psychiatric tests, and an assessment to establish whether he should serve the rest of his sentence in Barlinnie or another prison.

He will also appear before a court hearing which will decide how long he must spend in jail before being considered for parole. That is expected to be at least 20 years.

The prison service said Libyan consular officials would have "unfettered access", and an independent body such as the UN could monitor his treatment.

Al-Megrahi's relatives would have the same access rights as other inmates' families.

It is believed that he will have three prison officers with him at all times and will be required to work and take his recreation within the unit.

US action

The US Government praised the upholding of al-Megrahi's conviction and said Libya must now pay compensation to his victims.

President George Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said the case remained open and if new information emerged on other potential suspects, it would be investigated.

In the US, families of victims have launched a multi-million dollar compensation claim against Libya.

Bruce Smith, the husband of one victim, told BBC News on Friday that al-Megrahi was "one of the least of the Libyans involved."

"The civil suit is aimed at the top of the chain of command - at the Libyan Government itself," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Colin Blane
"The area around the prison was searched by police"
Glasgow University's Alastair Bonnington
"The system in Scotland has changed recently so there can be reviews"
David Leppard has written extensively on the trial
"We have to look further up the chain of the Libyan Security Service"
Lockerbie megapuff graphic

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Appeal concludes

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See also:

14 Mar 02 | In Depth
15 Mar 02 | Scotland
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