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LIBYA - Nov. 24 - Megrahi Get 27 Years.

Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi, the former intelligence agent who was convicted of planting the bomb on the New York-bound Pan Am jet which exploded over Lockerbie in late 1988, must serve at least 27 years in jail before he can apply for parole. This is the ruling of three judges at the High Court in Glasgow which puts a more precise minimum term on Al-Megrahi's sentence. (He was tried under Scottish law by a special court in the Netherlands and found guilty almost 3 years ago of the largest mass murder in British history. He was jailed for life with a recommendation that he serve at least 20 years. A subsequent appeal failed a year later, and Al-Megrahi has been held in Glasgow's Barlinnie prison, Scotland's biggest jail, ever since. Given his age - Al-Megrahi was 48 when he was originally convicted in February 2001 - it has been assumed that, in the absence of a successful appeal, he will spend most of the rest of his life behind bars. But European human rights law, now incorporated into Scottish law, requires that individuals facing life sentences be told exactly how many years they are required to serve before they can apply for parole). Announcing the 27-year minimum term, Lord Sutherland says Al-Megrahi has been guilty of a "wicked act carried out in the full knowledge that the plan, if successful, would result in the slaughter of many innocent persons". The 1988 airline bombing killed 270 people. Afterwards, legal advisers to Al-Megrahi said the latest development had reinforced "the need for us to marshal our forces to establish the innocence of this man". His lawyer Eddie MacKechnie says: "I have no doubt we will have the opportunity for a fresh appeal in due course, although it may be many months away". (Two possible routes are the Scottish criminal cases review commission, which is currently examining the case, and the European Court of Human Rights, although both procedures will be lengthy).
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:6LIBY
Date:Nov 29, 2003
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