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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK
Lockerbie trial venue handed back
Scottish police outside Camp Zeist
Scottish police outside Camp Zeist
The Scottish Executive has formally returned the site of the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeist to the Dutch Government.

Scotland's Justice Minister Jim Wallace officially handed back the venue near Utrecht to the authorities at a reception on Tuesday.

Last month, Abdelbaset ali Mohmed-al Megrahi lost his appeal against his life sentence for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie in 1988, killing all 259 people on board and 11 townspeople.

Al-Megrahi was found guilty in January 2001 following a trial under Scottish law in the Netherlands.

His co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was found not guilty at the original hearing.

Justice Minister Jim Wallace
Jim Wallace: "Three years to the day"

Al-Megrahi's appeal against his conviction was rejected by judges at the special Scottish court at the Camp Zeist compound on 14 March this year and he was then transferred to Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison.

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

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

This was because it satisfied Libya's assertion that the suspects would only be given up for trial on neutral ground.

Minister's thanks

During a reception at the British Embassy in The Hague, Mr Wallace expressed his gratitude to the government of the Netherlands and to all those involved in the Lockerbie proceedings.

Mr Wallace said: "Exactly three years to the day after the arrival of the first Scottish police officers, Camp van Zeist was handed back to your government on 2 April 2002.

"I would like to extend my personal thanks and the thanks of the Scottish nation to the people of the Netherlands for all you did to make the Lockerbie proceedings a reality.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to once again thank the Scottish agencies involved at Camp van Zeist, both in the initial organisation and in the unusual day-to-day processes involved.

"Without the hard work of the Scottish Courts Service, all the Scottish Police Forces, and the Scottish Prison Service, the criminal proceedings conducted there could never have happened and been brought to a conclusion."

Lockerbie megapuff graphic

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See also:

24 Mar 02 | Scotland
14 Mar 02 | In Depth
15 Mar 02 | Scotland
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