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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 10:31 GMT
Uncertain future for Camp Zeist
Zeist courtroom
A former school was converted into a court
A small piece of Scotland is to be returned to its original owners after completing its part in a piece of Scottish legal history.

The former military base at Camp Zeist in Holland has been under Scottish jurisdiction for more than three years.

The base was converted into a prison and a courtroom to provide the venue for the Lockerbie trial - the largest and most expensive ever conducted under Scots law.

Abdelbasset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi
Al-Megrahi was convicted in January 2001

Now the site is set to return to the ownership of the Dutch government - possibly as early as Friday.

No decision has yet been taken as to what will happen to the complex and its buildings.

However, Scottish Executive officials have been involved in negotiations for the handover of the site.

A spokesman said: "We have certain commitments to hand it back in such a way that they can use it and we have come to an agreement on how to do that."

Camp Zeist has a history of foreign involvement, forming part of a US military base until 1994.

Foreign soil

Located about eight miles from Utrecht in central Holland, it was chosen as the best location for the Lockerbie trial in late 1998.

The first of the 1,000 Scottish police officers who have been seconded to guard the site arrived in Holland in April 1999 - the same month that the two accused handed themselves over to the United Nations.

The trial of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, which began in May 2000, was the first to be held under Scots law on foreign soil.

Lord Cullen
Lord Cullen was among the appeal judges

In preparation for the hearing a former school was converted into a courthouse and the camp gymnasium became a media centre.

The prison which held the two accused was created on the ground floor of a former medical clinic, which was originally constructed as a hardened nuclear, biological and chemical shelter.

The following January the three Scottish judges delivered their verdict, clearing Fhimah but finding al-Megrahi guilty of murder.

However, that did not signal the end of Camp Zeist's role as the Libyan quickly lodged an appeal against the conviction.

That case was heard by a panel of five appeal judges between 23 January and 14 February.

They then retired to consider their verdict, which was announced on Thursday - signalling the end for the Scottish presence in Holland.

Lockerbie megapuff graphic

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14 Feb 02 | World
Lockerbie bombing appeal ends
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