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Lockerbie bomber on hunger strike

LONDON, England -- Convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi has gone on hunger strike, his former lawyer says.

Megrahi was found guilty of murder on January 31 for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, which killed 270 people.

He is appealing his conviction which carried a sentence of life imprisonment with the recommendation that he serves at least 20 years.

Megrahi is "very depressed," said Stephen Mitchell, one of the lawyers originally part of the defence team.

"I do worry for his mental state."

Mitchell said he had kept in contact with Megrahi's current legal team and had been told he had started a hunger strike.

"But the defence team and the doctors are trying to dissuade him and tell him the right course is to pursue his appeal," said Mitchell.

Three Scottish judges sitting in Camp Zeist in the Netherlands said they accepted that Al-Megrahi, whom they called a senior figure in Libyan intelligence, sent the bomb in an unaccompanied suitcase from Malta.

The Scottish Courts Service said notice of the intent to appeal had been given on Wednesday.

Lawyers for Megrahi, 49, now have six weeks to provide a written note setting out the grounds for the appeal.

A High Court judge will then decide whether or not to allow it and a hearing will be scheduled if leave is granted.

Megrahi is to stay at Camp Zeist, where he has been held since surrendering in April 1999, until the legal process is exhausted.

A cell dubbed the "Gadhafi Cafe" -- after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi -- has been prepared for him in Scotland's biggest prison, Barlinnie jail in Glasgow, should it be needed.

Mitchell said: "I think he is probably very, very depressed. I don't doubt for a minute that he thought there was no evidence against him. Back in 1992 he made it clear to me he was ready to go for trial outside Libya."

Megrahi's co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted.

Reuters contributed to this report.



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