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EDITIONS
Monday, 10 June, 2002, 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK
Mandela vow to Lockerbie families
Nelson Mandela
Mr Mandela raised concerns about the conviction
Nelson Mandela has promised to meet relatives of victims of the Lockerbie bombing after visiting the man jailed for the atrocity.

The former South African president criticised the conditions under which Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi has been detained at Barlinnie Prison during a visit to the jail near Glasgow.

Mr Mandela, who helped to broker Megrahi's trial in an attempt to break international "deadlock", expressed the hope that the Libyan would be successful in securing another appeal.


From the point of view of fundamental principles of natural law, it would be fair if he is given a chance to appeal

Nelson Mandela
He also said he wished to meet relatives of the bombing during a return visit to Scotland in July.

Mr Mandela told a packed media conference: "I am coming back here in July and it is my intention to visit Scotland and speak to all the victims of Lockerbie."

Megrahi was jailed for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie and lost an appeal against his conviction earlier this year.

He has been detained in a special segregated unit at the jail.

During a visit to assess conditions at the jail, Mr Mandela said Megrahi was being harassed by other inmates and should be moved to a jail in an internationally recognised Muslim country.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi
Megrahi is "all alone" in Barlinnie
He said: "It would be fair if he was transferred to a Muslim country - and there are Muslim countries which are trusted by the West.

"It will make it easier for his family to visit him if he is in a place like the Kingdom of Morocco, Tunisia or Egypt."

However, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said the call went against what Libya had agreed before the trial.

"Libya agreed to hand over the suspects to a third country and that if convicted by the Scottish court they would be imprisoned in Scotland.

"This situation has not changed," he said.

Victims' families

That view was shared by Scottish Justice Minister Jim Wallace.

He said: "I am sure that the Scottish Prison Service will be sensitive to the particular circumstances of Mr Megrahi.

"Equally we must be sensitive to the position of the victims' families who live with their loss."

Mr Mandela compared Megrahi's ordeal with his own 27 years in jail under Apartheid and said: "The difference was that I was with other prisoners, I was not alone.


My main objective is to pat Mr Mandela on the back and thank him for the part he played in making the trial possible

Dr Jim Swire
UK relatives spokesman
"Some of the prisoners were widely travelled and had a high level of education and during the latter years we had a very well stocked library."

Mr Mandela said the fact that Megrahi was being held on his own was not a deliberate act on the part of the authorities.

He said he planned to raise his case with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W Bush.

Mr Mandela said there had been criticism of the trial and appeal process and he hoped there would be further proceedings

"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 said.

Mr Mandela said he did not regret acting as broker in securing the trial of Megrahi and another Libyan - who was cleared - because action needed to be taken break the "deadlock" between Libya and the West.

European Court

A spokesman for Mr Blair said he had no plans to meet Mr Mandela in the near future.

UK relatives spokesman Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was among the victims, said: "Personally I would strongly support Mr Mandela's call for a further review of the verdict itself.

"I don't think it serves the purposes of humanity to have this man having a desperate time in prison.

"My main objective is to pat Mr Mandela on the back and thank him for the part he played in making the trial possible. Before he joined there was complete deadlock."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's James Robbins
"South Africa's former president used stinging language"
BBC Scotland's Reevel Alderson reports
"Mr Mandela said he found Megrahi in good spirits"
Father of the House of Commons Tam Dalyell
"There is an innocent man in Barlinnie jail"
Lockerbie megapuff graphic

AUDIO VIDEO

Appeal concludes

Key stories

Features

The trial
See also:

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