MacAskill to meet Lockerbie bomber over jail transfer

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JUSTICE secretary Kenny MacAskill is to meet the Lockerbie bomber to discuss his possible transfer home to Libya to serve out the rest of his prison sentence.

The Scottish Government confirmed yesterday that it had received a request from Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi to meet Mr MacAskill to put his case. A meeting is likely to take place "soon", probably in Greenock prison, where Megrahi, who has been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, is being held.

Megrahi was convicted in 2001 for the 1988 bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, in which 270 people died.

A spokesman for Mr MacAskill said: "The justice secretary feels it is right to hear from all the people who would be affected by the decision to ensure he has the best possible information on which to base any decision."

The transfer application, which was submitted in May, normally takes around 90 days to complete. A decision from Mr MacAskill, who has vowed to ignore political and economic considerations, is expected by mid-August.

It is separate to a second appeal against his conviction from Megrahi being considered by the Scottish courts. A decision on this has been delayed until the autumn due to the illness of one of the judges.

In determining whether to allow the transfer, Mr MacAskill has also sought the views of the British and American families of victims of the attack, as well as that of US attorney-general Eric Holder.

Mr MacAskill said last month: "The Lockerbie air disaster remains the most serious terrorist atrocity committed in the United Kingdom. I am aware of the pain and grief still being experienced by many people whose lives were affected by it both here in Scotland and across the world."

Megrahi's case was raised by Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, when he met Gordon Brown at last week's G8 summit in Italy, but the Prime Minister told him it was a matter for the Scottish Government.