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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 February, 2005, 15:31 GMT
Jail switch for Lockerbie bomber
Greenock Prison
Greenock Prison will be Megrahi's new home
The Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, has been moved from a purpose-built jail unit in Glasgow to another prison 25 miles away.

The transfer from Barlinnie to Greenock was carried out on Thursday morning.

No special provisions have been made at Greenock for Megrahi, who is serving at least 27 years for carrying out the 1988 atrocity in which 270 people died.

Eddie MacKechnie, Megrahi's lawyer, said that his client had been moved without prior notification.

He said he was "currently considering a remedy before the Court of Session".

Megrahi, 52, will be free to move around Greenock jail with other inmates. He began his sentence after his conviction in 2001.

Court challenge

A £250,000 Barlinnie suite was built to house those charged in connection in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 before it was known how many people would stand trial or that the case would be held in Holland.

It is now understood the unit, which was dubbed "Gaddafi's Café", will be decommissioned.

Megrahi, who has been visited in prison by Nelson Mandela, has had little contact with his fellow inmates until now for fear of reprisals.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi
Megrahi was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in 2001

But the move to Greenock will see him mix with other lifers.

Megrahi was convicted of smuggling a bomb aboard the New York-bound flight on December 21, 1988.

The plane exploded over the small Dumfries and Galloway town of Lockerbie killing all 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground.

The former Libyan intelligence officer was found guilty after a trial by a specially convened Scottish court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.

His co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted.

In November 2003, Megrahi was told by three Scottish judges that he must spend at least 27 years in jail before being considered for parole.

Solitary confinement

The Crown is appealing against what it believes is an "unduly lenient" prison term.

Passing sentence, Lord Sutherland said it would have been longer but for the fact that the Libyan was in a foreign country and was held virtually in solitary confinement.

BBC Scotland's home affairs correspondent Reevel Alderson said: "That will no longer be able to be argued, and an appeal by the Crown arguing the sentence was too lenient is due to be heard soon."

Eddie MacKechnie
The concern of the Libyan government and my client is that his personal safety and security should be preserved
Eddie MacKechnie
Megrahi's lawyer

In a separate legal move, Megrahi is challenging the court ruling that he must serve at least 27 years.

Mr MacKechnie described the decision to transfer his client to Greenock as "surprising and disturbing".

"The position adopted by both my client and his country, Libya, is that the move to the special holding facility, created potentially for two Libyans, was a matter that was agreed between Libya and the UK as part of the negotiations leading up to the Lockerbie trial in Holland," he said.

"The concern of the Libyan Government and my client is that his personal safety and security should be preserved and that integration with other prisoners, which has not happened at all in Barlinnie, would be dangerous and of great concern."

He said Libya was "very concerned" that the British Government had gone back on an agreement to keep Megrahi apart from other inmates.

He said the issue had been raised recently with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.


SEE ALSO:
Bomber damages claim 'irrelevant'
07 Jul 04 |  Scotland
Bomber will not attend appeals
04 Jun 04 |  Scotland
Lockerbie bomber fights sentence
31 May 04 |  Scotland
Blair meets Lockerbie relatives
24 May 04 |  Scotland


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