- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 11, 2002

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) Former South African President Nelson Mandela said yesterday that the Libyan man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 was being subjected to "psychological persecution."

After visiting Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi for more than an hour at Barlinnie Prison, Mr. Mandela said authorities should consider letting him serve his sentence in a Muslim country such as Morocco, Tunisia or Egypt.

"Megrahi is all alone," Mr. Mandela said at a news conference later in the prison's visitors room.

"He has nobody he can talk to. It is a psychological persecution that a man must stay for the length of his long sentence all alone."

Al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, was convicted last year of murder and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 20 years. Another Libyan was acquitted.

In March, al-Megrahi lost an appeal against his conviction.

Mr. Mandela played a crucial role in persuading Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to hand over two men suspected of involvement in the 1988 bombing over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. Two-hundred and seventy persons were killed, 189 of them Americans.

Mr. Mandela, a political prisoner for more than 20 years, said al-Megrahi was being harassed by other inmates at Barlinnie.

"He says he is being treated well by the officials, but when he takes exercise he has been harassed by a number of prisoners," Mr. Mandela said.

He said the Libyan should be allowed to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Mr. Mandela was met at the prison by al-Megrahi's attorney, Eddie MacKechnie, who said he would continue the campaign to prove his client's innocence.

Mr. MacKechnie said he was considering taking the case to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission or to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Mr. Mandela, who has maintained a warm relationship with Col. Gadhafi over the years, said he hoped to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush to discuss the case.


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