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Monday, 10 June, 2002, 21:58 GMT 22:58 UK
UK rejects Lockerbie transfer plea
Nelson Mandela
Mr Mandela spent more than an hour at the jail
The British Government has ruled out a call from the former South African President, Nelson Mandela, for the Libyan man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing to be transferred from a Scottish prison to one in a Muslim country.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi
Megrahi is "all alone" in Barlinnie
Mr Mandela was speaking after a visit to Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who is serving a life sentence at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow.

A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the nature of Mr Megrahi's detention had been agreed with the Libyan Government, and no meeting with Mr Mandela was planned.

Mr Mandela, who played a key role in persuading Libya to hand over Megrahi for trial, has also called for a fresh appeal in his case.

Mr Mandela had earlier told a packed media conference he would be seeking talks with Mr Blair and US President George W Bush about the case.

'All alone'

Mr Mandela said the Libyan had been detained in specially segregated quarters in virtual isolation and had been harassed by other prisoners.

Megrahi family
Megrahi's family arrives at the jail

He told reporters: "Megrahi is all alone. He has nobody he can talk to. It is a psychological persecution that a man must stay for the length of his long sentence all alone."

Mr Mandela said it would make it easier for his family to visit him if he was in a place like Morocco, Tunisia or Egypt.

"He says he is being treated well by the officials, but when he takes exercise he has been harassed by a number of prisoners," said Mr Mandela.

"He cannot identify them because they shout at him from their cells through the windows and sometimes it is difficult even for the officials to know from which quarter the shouting occurs."

Privy Council

During the media conference, Mr Mandela said doubts existed over Megrahi's trial and subsequent failed appeal at a special Scottish court in the Netherlands.

He said a four-judge commission from the Organisation of African Unity had criticised the process.

Megrahi was jailed for life for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland on 21 December, 1988 with the loss of 270 lives. A second Libyan was acquitted at the trial.

"They have criticised it fiercely, and it will be a pity if no court reviews the case itself," said Mr Mandela.

"From the point of view of fundamental principles of natural law, it would be fair if he is given a chance to appeal either to the UK Privy Council or the European Court of Human Rights," he added.

Megrahi's family also visited the Libyan on Monday, arriving shortly after Mr Mandela.

'New evidence'

Mr Mandela met Megrahi's Scottish lawyer, Eddie MacKechnie, at the jail.

Mr MacKechnie earlier alleged that he had uncovered new evidence not available at the trial and appeal.

"An $11m dollar payment was made by the government of Iran to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command two days after the atrocity," he said.

He said the information had come from a former CIA officer who had given details of times, dates and bank accounts.

"My concern is not simply that there is evidence of such payment, but whether that information was available to any British authorities," he added.

The BBC's James Robbins
"It was Nelson Mandela who helped bring Mehgrahi to justice"
Father of the House of Commons Tam Dalyell
"There is an innocent man in Barlinnie jail"
Lockerbie megapuff graphic


Appeal concludes

Key stories


The trial
See also:

10 Jun 02 | Scotland
06 May 02 | Europe
14 Mar 02 | In Depth
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