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Saturday, 15 June, 2002, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Mandela's Lockerbie visit criticised
Nelson Mandela
Mandela helped broker the Lockerbie trial
Nelson Mandela's visit to the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has been criticised by a senior detective who helped the investigation.

Jim Gilchrist, the former head of Dumfries and Galloway CID, also attacked Mr Mandela's calls for the Libyan bomber to be transferred to a prison in a Muslim country.

Mr Mandela visited Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi in Glasgow's Barlinnie prison on Monday.

But Mr Gilchrist told the Scottish Daily Mail the Lockerbie case had seen "a series of political compromises".

Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi
Megrahi was taken to Barlinnie in March

The former policeman suggested Mr Mandela's involvement could help pave the way for a U-turn by the UK Government.

He told the paper: "The visit of one of the world's foremost statesmen has conferred a status upon Megrahi to which he is not entitled.

"He is a convicted mass murderer, not a political prisoner."

He added: "I believe we're on the verge of another shift in stance.

"Nelson Mandela was hand-picked for the job. Who else could have got away with coming to this country and criticising us and suggesting that Megrahi should be allowed to move?

"Only he could satisfy everyone's agenda. The Libyans trust him. The US and the UK are saying a transfer is not possible but if it suits them to hand Megrahi over to a Muslim country, Mandela's standing in the world community might ease the way to another U-turn."

Lockerbie bombing scene
The bombing required a huge investigation

The Foreign Office said a request for Megrahi to be moved went against what Libya agreed to before the Lockerbie trial at a special Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands.

On Monday, Mr Mandela called for a fresh appeal in Megrahi's case, and said he hoped to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush to discuss the matter.

He described in detail how a four-judge commission from the Organisation of African Unity had criticised the basis by which Megrahi came to be convicted last year.

Megrahi was convicted of murder for smuggling a bomb aboard Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, with the loss of 270 lives.

Lockerbie megapuff graphic

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11 Jun 02 | Scotland
10 Jun 02 | Scotland
25 Apr 02 | Scotland
16 Apr 02 | Scotland
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