Egypt, Tunisia to take 103 bomber?
LONDON, England -- Former South African President Nelson Mandela says Egypt and Tunisia are ready to let the Libyan agent convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing serve out his sentence there.
After a meeting with relatives of Lockerbie victims, Mandela said they were not opposed to the idea of transferring Abdel Basset al-Megrahi so that he can finish his sentence in a Muslim country.
The respected world intermediary said he told around 30 relatives that he had already discussed the idea with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali.
Mandela had already said that he wished Al-Megrahi to serve his sentence in a Muslim country after visiting him last month in a Scottish jail.
He paid the visit on June 10 to check on the conditions at Barlinnie Prison, where the Libyan intelligence agent is serving life for murder for smuggling a bomb aboard Pan Am Flight 103.
"I told the relatives that he would go to a country trusted by Britain and the United States to serve his full sentence, and the length of the sentence would be determined by the Scottish authorities," Mandela told a press conference at South Africa House in London.
"Nobody opposed it and I was very happy with their response. They appear to be open-minded, notwithstanding the wounds and the scars they have suffered."
Mandela played a key role in persuading his friend Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to hand over Al-Megrahi and another Libyan suspect for trial at a special Scottish court sitting in Camp Zeist, the Netherlands.
The court found Al-Megrahi guilty in January 2001 of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people.
Al-Megrahi appealed against the verdict, but in March Scottish appeal judges upheld his conviction. He was sentenced to life in jail. Libya has always denied any role in the bombing.
Most of the 259 people killed on board Pan Am flight 103 when it blew up over Lockerbie in December 1988 were Americans. Eleven residents of the small Scottish town were also killed on the ground.
When in June, Mandela visited Al-Megrahi in his Scottish prison and said he should be transferred to a prison in a Muslim country, British PM Tony Blair told parliament: "I see no reason, I have to say, to change that decision."
Mandela, who spent 27 years in jail during his long campaign against apartheid, said that he would, in due course, ask to meet Blair to discuss the issue.
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