Minister meeting Lockerbie bomber in prison

Author: By Scott Macnab, Press Association

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi has terminal prostate cancer and has also
lodged a separate application for compassionate release, which Mr MacAskill
is considering.

The pair will meet in Greenock prison where Megrahi is serving a life sentence
for his 2001 conviction for blowing up Pan Am flight 103 21 years ago, which
left 270 people dead.

Mr MacAskill has said that political and economic factors will not influence
his decision and that a 90-day deadline on the prisoner transfer will not be
met.

The minister has spoken to the US Attorney General and the US and British
families of the Lockerbie bomb victims.

Megrahi, who has always claimed he is innocent, is appealing against his
conviction for the bombing – Mr MacAskill cannot grant the prisoner a
transfer while this appeal goes through the courts.

But the minister can still consider the application from Libya.

It emerged earlier this month that no decision on the appeal against
conviction will be reached until the autumn, after one of the judges
involved had heart surgery.

SNP backbencher Christine Grahame, who has already met Megrahi in jail, said
he should be given compassionate release.

This would allow his appeal to continue – unlike the prison transfer option.

Ms Grahame, MSP for South of Scotland, said she believed there had been a
miscarriage of justice.

But she added: “The trouble with a prisoner transfer is it will never be
resolved through the Scottish courts.

“The appeal must proceed, and justice be done and seen to be done.”

Asked if Mr MacAskill’s visit set a “very dangerous precedent”, she replied:
“I think it’s appropriate that when someone’s considering what’s to happen
to someone who’s terminally ill and in prison that all aspects are examined.”

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