The Lockerbie bomber’s family can appeal his conviction eight years after his death, a criminal case review has ruled.
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was convicted of murdering 11 Lockerbie residents, as well as 243 passengers and 16 crew on board Pan Am Flight 103, which blew up over the Dumfries and Galloway town on December 21, 1988.
Former Libyan intelligence officer Megrahi was the only person convicted of the bombing, having been found guilty in 2001 of mass murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years.
He died in 2012 after being released from prison on compassionate grounds following a cancer diagnosis.
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) said it believed a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.
It has now referred to the case to the High Court of Justiciary for a ruling,
The application to the SCCRC was made by lawyer Aamer Anwar on behalf of al-Megrahi’s family and was supported by some families of those who died in the 1988 disaster.
The commission said that “no reasonable trial court could have accepted that al-Megrahi was identified as the purchaser” of items that were inside a bomb suitcase used in the attack.
It also found that the Crown “ought to have disclosed to the defence a statement and a police report concerning possession of photographs of Mr Megrahi” by a Maltese shopkeeper whose evidence helped convict the Libyan.
Chairman of the SCCRC Bill Matthews, said: “This is the second time that the commission has carried out what I believe has been a rigorous and independent review of this particular conviction, and we note that since our last review further information has become available, including within the public domain, which the commission has now been able to consider and assess.
“As the chair of the SCCRC in 2007 said when the case was originally referred, our function is not to decide upon the guilt or innocence of an applicant. Our function is to examine the grounds of review identified and to decide whether any of the grounds meet the statutory test for a potential miscarriage.
He added: “I am satisfied that the matter is now returning to the appropriate forum – the appeal court – to consider fully all of the issues raised in our statement of reasons.”
Mr Anwar said he was instructed by the family of Megrahi and also supported by Dr Jim Swire, father of Flora Swire – who was aged 23 when she died in the bombing – along with Rev John Mosey whose daughter Helga Mosey, 19, also died on the flight.
Megrahi’s first appeal against his conviction was refused by the High Court in 2002.
His case was referred back to the High Court in 2007 for a new appeal, following a review by the SCCRC.
He abandoned this appeal in 2009, shortly before his release from prison.
In 2014, a new application to the SCCRC was made on Megrahi’s behalf but the following year the commission decided it was not in the interests of justice to proceed with a review of Megrahi’s conviction, citing difficulties accessing defence documents.
The latest application to the SCCRC was lodged in 2017.