Thursday, 14 July 2016

Mandela meets UK Lockerbie families

[What follows is excerpted from a report published on the website of The Independent on this date in 2002:]

Both Egypt and Tunisia have agreed to accept the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing to serve his sentence, if the Government is willing to transfer him from his Scottish prison, Nelson Mandela said yesterday.
The former South African president added that the bereaved families of Lockerbie victims he met yesterday did not oppose Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi being moved from Glasgow's Barlinnie prison. Mr Mandela has called for Megrahi to be allowed a fresh appeal and for him to be permitted to serve his jail term in a Muslim country in the meantime. Mr Mandela has discussed the matter with presidents Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Ben Ali of Tunisia.
"I told the relatives [of the Lockerbie victims] that he would go to a country trusted by Britain and the United States to serve his sentence, and the length of the sentence would be determined by the Scottish authorities," he said.
"Nobody opposed it, and I was very happy with their response. They appear to be open-minded, not withstanding the wounds and the scars they have suffered."
Tony Blair had dismissed the idea of Megrahi, a member of Colonel Gaddafi's secret service, being moved to another country. But Mr Mandela said he would try to change the Prime Minister's mind. Mr Mandela was speaking to journalists in London after he had met the Lockerbie families. (...)
Mr Mandela played a key role in persuading Colonel Gaddafi to hand over Megrahi and his co-defendant, Al-Amin Khalifah Fhimah, for trial at the specially constituted Scottish court at Zeist, in the Netherlands.
But he has expressed grave disquiet over the subsequent conviction of Megrahi for smuggling a bomb on board the Pan Am jet in 1988, killing 270 people. Megrahi, 49, is serving a life sentence after losing an appeal.
Mr Mandela said he had told the relatives how a UN representative and judges from the Organisation of African Unity had criticised the evidence against Megrahi.
[RB: A report on Mandela’s meeting with the UK Lockerbie relatives published on the BBC News website can be read here.]

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