Monday 22 August 2022

HMP Barlinnie and Abdelbaset Megrahi

[What follows is excerpted from an article headlined Glasgow Crime Stories: The many stories behind HMP Barlinnie published today on the website of the Glasgow Evening Times:]

It's been known by many names The Bar-L, Bar Hell, Glasgow's Alcatraz, the Big Hoose, or simply HMP Barlinnie.  (...)

Barlinnie's most high-profile prisoner was the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi. (...)

In 2001 Barlinnie was back on the world's stage with the arrival by helicopter of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, which killed 270 people.

Megrahi was provided with a £1.5million purpose-built cell, dubbed Gaddafi's Café situated in the former specula unit.

It has a private toilet and shower, a TV, kitchen facilities for the Libyan to cook his own halal meals.

There was also an exercise area and a room where Megrahi coud be visited by human rights officials to make sure he was being treated fairly. 

The cost at the time of keeping him in solitary confinement was thought to be around £100,000 a year. 

That compared to the £18,000 annual cost for a regular prisoner at Barlinnie.

In 2002 Megrahi was visited by Nelson Mandela who called for a fresh review of his conviction and for him to serve his sentence in a Libyan prison.

Mandela himself spent 18 of his 27 years in jail on Robben Island after being locked up by the South Africa's apartheid government. 

What he thought of the conditions at Barlinnie compared to Robben Island is not known.

However, he did describe Megrahi's imprisonment in Barlinnie as psychological persecution 

Megrahi was later moved to Greenock prison in 2005, before being sent home to Libya in 2009 on compassionate grounds with terminal cancer.


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