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Sunday, 31 December, 2000, 10:41 GMT
Moderator to visit Lockerbie prison
Camp Zeist
The two accused are on trial at Camp Zeist
The moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland plans to visit the prison holding the two men accused of the Lockerbie bombing.

The kirk said the Right Reverend Andrew McLellan would travel to the Scottish court and prison complex in the Netherlands in the new year.

His trip to Camp Zeist, where the two Libyan men accused of the bombing have been on trial, resulted from a promise to visit all of Scotland's jails during his year in office.

It was understood that the moderator had received an invitation from the Scottish Prison Service via Lothian and Borders Police and would not visit Camp Zeist before the middle of February.

Trial details
The two accused are Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 48, and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44
Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, killing all 259 people on board and another 11 on the ground
The two men deny three charges - murder, conspiracy to murder and a breach of the 1982 Aviation Security Act
The trial is taking place in a Scottish courtroom at Camp Zeist, in the Netherlands
The case is being heard by a panel of Scottish judges

A kirk spokesman said: "It is a Scottish prison and he is keen to go because he said he would visit all Scottish prisons and talk to staff and inmates.

"He will be going some time in the new year, but he doesn't have a definite date yet."

After his tour of the country's jails, Mr McLellan said he believed Scotland's prisons were "isolated" communities hampered by low staff morale and misrepresentation in society.

However, he added that he had found positive features, in particular the shift in relationships between inmates and officers from a culture of "fear and bullying" towards one of mutual respect.

He condemned the detention of immigrants in prison as "scandalous", said slopping out was a "disgusting" practice and aired the "greatest possible reservations" about private prisons.

The moderator also criticised negative public attitudes to prisoners, particularly sex offenders, warning that it led to offenders being victimised at the expense of their needs and those of their victims.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah have been held in custody since their first appearance at the court in April.

After months of prosecution evidence, lawyers for Mr Al Megrahi began presenting his defence case in December.

The court was adjourned until 8 January to allow more time for a document, relating to new evidence, to be sent to the court by the Syrian Government.

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See also:

21 Dec 00 | Scotland
Tribute on Lockerbie anniversary
05 Dec 00 | Lockerbie Trial
Lockerbie defence case begins
21 Nov 00 | World
Lockerbie trial adjourns
17 Nov 00 | World
'Recorders found in raid'
16 Nov 00 | World
Agent denies Lockerbie role
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