Scottish minister to meet jailed Libyan bomber
Scotland's justice secretary will meet Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan agent convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, for talks yesterday on whether he should be released from prison on compassionate grounds.
Mr Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, was sentenced to life in 2001 for blowing up a Pan Am airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing all 259 people on board and 11 more people on the ground.
Libyan authorities made an application in July on behalf of Mr Megrahi, 57, asking for him to be released on compassionate grounds and allowed to return home.
A Scottish government spokesman said Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill would meet Mr Megrahi in Greenock prison in Scotland.
"The meeting is part of the process of considering the request for compassionate leave," he said. "That process is continuing and will not end today."
Libya has repeatedly lobbied for MrMegrahi's release - most recently at a meeting in Italy between Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown last month. The British government says his fate is a matter for Scotland, which has a separate legal system from the rest of Britain.
In May, Tripoli made a separate application to the Scottish government on Mr Megrahi's behalf for him to return to his homeland as part of a Prisoner Transfer Agreement. The deadline for a decision on that should be 90 days from application but Scottish officials have indicated it is unlikely to be met.
Four years after Mr Megrahi's conviction, Libya accepted respons-ibility for the bombing and agreed to pay about $2.7 billion in compensation to the victims' families - a move that helped clear the way for the lifting of sanctions and the restoration of Libya's ties with Western states.