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Lockerbie bomber heads for UK jail

CAMP ZEIST, Netherlands -- The Libyan man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing is being transferred to a Scottish prison after his conviction was upheld by an appeals court.

Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi was jailed for life for his part in the bombing which killed 259 people on board Pan AM flight 103 and 11 people on the ground in the Scottish town of Lockerbie. (Full story)

After losing his appeal at Camp Zeist, Netherlands, he was due to be transferred on Thursday night to Scotland. His exact destination has not officially been disclosed, but it is believed he will be taken to Barlinnie prison in Glasgow, Scotland's largest jail, to serve the remainder of his sentence.

The judges said "none of the grounds of the appeal are well-founded."

The families of those who died on the plane said they were not surprised by the ruling, but called for an independent inquiry in to airport security. (Full story)

Five appeal court judges delivered their ruling at 11 a.m. local time (1000 GMT) at Camp Zeist.

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PROFILE: Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi 
 

He has no further right of appeal in the high courts, but he does have the option of an appeal to Britain's Privy Council.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he hoped the decision would bring some "solace and comfort" to the families of those killed. (Full story)

CNN's Chris Burns said: "This effectively closes the book on the case."

He added it now opens the way for possibly billions of dollars of compensation to be paid to the families of those who died.

John Grant, a professor at Glasgow University who has been covering the case, said he was not surprised by the verdict.

"Under the law of Scotland it is very difficult to get a conviction...so it is difficult to win an appeal."

The decision could pave the way for a public inquiry into the tragedy.

"I do not think he dreamt up the idea on his own in a Libyan cafe," Grant added.

Al-Megrahi, 49, was convicted of the December 21, 1988 bombing last year after the prosecution argued he had placed the explosive, hidden in a suitcase, on a flight from Malta to Frankfurt, where it was transferred onto the Pan Am plane to New York via Heathrow.

His co-accused, Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima, was found not guilty in the first trial that was held at Camp Zeist but heard under Scottish law.

The prosecution maintained al-Megrahi, who worked at Malta's Luqa Airport, was an agent for the Libyan intelligence services and that he had been seen buying clothes that were in the suitcase that contained the bomb.

But during the appeal the Libyan's legal team urged the judges to declare the original trial a miscarriage of justice.

William Taylor QC introduced fresh evidence showing the bomb could have been planted at Heathrow to cast doubt on the prosecution's version of events.

Retired security guard Ray Manly said that 18 hours before flight 103 was blown out of the sky he had discovered a break-in at Heathrow's baggage build-up area, where bags were brought by airport staff prior to being loaded on to flights.

Alan Turnbull QC, for the prosecution, urged the judges to reject the appeal, insisting the Heathrow theory was just another example of the "speculative explanations" the defence had put forward at the original trial.

But he accepted that the Maltese connection was crucial to their case against al-Megrahi.

Al Megrahi's wife Aisha, dressed entirely in black, collapsed in sobs as the ruling was read out.

As Cullen dismissed the appeal, the prisoner, dressed in white Arab robes and a red fez, swallowed hard, once looking dazed.

A shout of "Yes" went out from someone in the public gallery and there was the sound of one or two people applauding at the rear of the gallery.

British and American relatives in the front rows of the public gallery shook each others hands.



 
 
 
 






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