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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Lockerbie bomber to stay in Scotland
Barlinnie Prison
The Libyan is being held at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow
The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing will serve his entire sentence in a Scottish jail, the UK Government has confirmed.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has rejected Nelson Mandela's calls for Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi to see out the remainder of his life sentence in a Muslim country.

The former South African president suggested the move after meeting the Libyan in Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison in June.

Last month he said after a meeting with the victims' relatives in London that they would not object to such a move.

Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi
Megrahi was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years

However, Mr Mandela's calls prompted Dumfries MP Russell Brown to write to Prime Minister Tony Blair urging him to reject any such transfer.

In a letter of reply, Mr Straw said: "I can assure you that there will be no change in policy on the location of Megrahi's imprisonment.

"He will serve his full prison sentence in Scotland."

Mr Mandela had accused the Scottish Prison Service of "psychological persecution" for holding the bomber in solitary confinement at Barlinnie.

Religious sensitivity

He said that the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia had both agreed to accept Megrahi if he was transferred from Glasgow.

However, Mr Straw said UN monitors had found that the prison guards at Barlinnie showed "commendable" sensitivity to cultural and religious conditions.

They described the conditions in the jail as "clearly very good" and said that they met all known national and international standards.

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela met victims' relatives

Mr Brown welcomed the promise from Mr Straw.

"Now that Jack Straw has ended speculation over Megrahi, we can now focus our attention on ensuring that the government hold a further inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing," said the Labour MP.

"We know that this won't be a full public inquiry, but there are still many questions that remain unanswered."

He said these included the possible involvement of other countries in the bombing and the issue of airport security.

Minimum sentence

Megrahi was jailed for life in January 2001 for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, with a recommendation that he should serve at least 20 years.

The plane exploded over Lockerbie in December 1988, leading to the deaths of 270 people.

An appeal against the conviction of the 49-year-old Libyan was rejected last year at a special Scottish Court sitting in the Netherlands.

Lockerbie megapuff graphic

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10 Jun 02 | Scotland
10 Jun 02 | Scotland
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