Appeal against Lockerbie bomber’s conviction back in court

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission ruled earlier this year a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.

An appeal against the conviction of the late Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing returns to the High Court on Friday.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) referred the case to the High Court in March, ruling a possible miscarriage of justice may have occurred.

A statement issued by appeal lawyer Aamer Anwar on behalf of al-Megrahi’s family said the reputation of the Scottish criminal justice system has “suffered badly both at home and internationally because of widespread doubts about the conviction”.

The statement said: “He (al-Megrahi) was convicted in a Scottish court of law and that is the only appropriate place for his guilt or innocence to be determined.

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“A reversal of the verdict would have meant that the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom stand accused of having lived a monumental lie for 31 years, imprisoning a man they knew to be innocent and punishing the Libyan people for a crime which they did not commit.”

The bombing of Pan Am flight 103, travelling from London to New York on December 21, 1988, killed 270 people in Britain’s largest terrorist atrocity.

Former Libyan intelligence officer al-Megrahi – found guilty in 2001 of mass murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years – was the only person convicted.

He died in 2012 after being released from prison early on compassionate grounds.

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Friday’s hearing, which will be held via videolink, will be presided over by Scotland’s most senior judge, the Lord President – Lord Carloway – along with the Lord Justice Clerk – Lady Dorian – and Lord Menzies.

The SCCRC published a decision on March 11 ruling a miscarriage of justice may have occurred in his case on two of the six grounds it considered in the review – unreasonable verdict and non-disclosure.

On the issue of unreasonable verdict, the commission said a miscarriage of justice may have occurred because no reasonable trial court, relying on the evidence led at trial, could have held the case against Megrahi was proved beyond reasonable doubt.

On the issue of non-disclosure, it said the Crown ought to have disclosed certain information to the defence and also its failure to disclose information about reward money bolsters the conclusion he was denied a fair trial.