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Prisoner Transfer Process

The Repatriation of Prisoners Act 1984, enables, under certain circumstances, persons who have received a custodial sentence in a country other than their own to be transferred to their home country to serve the remainder of their sentence.

A Prisoner Transfer Agreement, of which the UK has over 100, is an agreement with another country or nation to allow repatriation of prisoners to serve the remainder of their sentence in their home country.

A Prisoner Transfer Agreement was negotiated between the UK and Libyan Governments. When the prospect of a Prisoner Transfer Agreement was first raised, the Scottish Government expressed concern and requested to the UK Government that there be an exclusion in the agreement preventing anyone convicted of involvement in the Lockerbie Air Disaster from being considered for transfer. This exclusion was not included in the Prisoner Transfer Agreement, and it was ratified by the UK Government in April 2009.

Under the Repatriation of Prisoners Act 1984, it is for the Scottish Ministers to decide upon any application for prisoners in Scottish prisons - in practice it is the decision of the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Mr Kenny MacAskill MSP.

Application on behalf of Mr Al-Megrahi

The Scottish Ministers received an application from the Libyan Government requesting the transfer of Mr Al-Megrahi, under the terms of the Prisoner Transfer Agreement, on 5 May 2009.

Article 3 of the PTA sets out five conditions which are required to be met to allow transfer, these are:

(a) the prisoner is a national of the receiving State;
(b) the judgement is final and no other criminal proceedings relating to the offence or any other offence committed by the prisoner are pending in the transferring State;
(c) at the time of the receipt of the request for the transfer, the prisoner still has at least six months of the sentence to serve;
(d) the acts or omissions on account of which the sentence has been imposed constitute a criminal offence according to the law of the receiving State or would constitute a criminal offence if committed on its territory; and
(e) the transferring and receiving States agree to the transfer.

As part of the consideration of the application, Mr MacAskill has met or spoken with those that submitted relevant representations, this included: The US Attorney General (26 June), The US Secretary of State (13 August), The Libyan Government (6 July), UK families of victims (1 July), US families of victims (9 July), Families from Lockerbie (23 July) and Mr Al-Megrahi (5 August).


Mr Al-Megrahi's application under the Prisoner Transfer Process

Advice to Justice Secretary

Notes from meetings

Correspondence with Libyan Government

Letters of representation - will be released as permissions are obtained

Correspondence with Mr Al-Megrahi

Advice on prisoner transfer process

Advice on agreements