Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Lockerbie bomber to stay in Scotland

[This is the headline over a report published on the BBC News website on this date in 2002. It reads in part:]

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.

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.

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.

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.

[RB: Why Mr Brown or Mr Straw thought that the United Kingdom government had any control over where Abdelbaset Megrahi would serve his sentence is a mystery to me. Mr Mandela can be forgiven for not being aware of the details of the division of authority between the Scottish and the United Kingdom governments, but Messrs Brown and Straw cannot.]

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