Lockerbie bombing: Megrahi family appeal bid back in court

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Megrahi was released from prison to return to Libya in 2009

An appeal against the Lockerbie bomber’s conviction will return to court later.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was found guilty in 2001 of the terrorist attack which killed 270 people – 11 of them in the ground in Lockerbie – in 1988.

He is the only person ever convicted of the bombing. His family have requested a posthumous appeal against the conviction.

Five judges will be asked to allow the appeal to be heard in his son’s name.

Friday’s proceedings will presided over by Scotland’s most senior judge, the Lord President – Lord Carloway – along with the Lord Justice Clerk – Lady Dorian – and Lord Menzies.

They will begin another appeal process, after the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission said there may have been a miscarriage of justice.

The judges will be asked to order the release of prosecution documents which have been withheld because the UK government believes it would be against the public interest to publish them.

It will be many months before the full appeal begins.

How did we get here?

Image copyright
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A total of 270 people died in the Lockerbie bombing in 1988

US and British investigators indicted Megrahi in 1991 but he was not handed over by the Libyans until April 1999.

May 2000 – A special trial under Scots law starts on neutral ground at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.

31 January 2001 – Former Libyan intelligence officer Megrahi is found guilty of mass murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years.

March 2002 – Megrahi loses an appeal against his conviction.

September 2003 – The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) is asked to investigate Megrahi’s conviction.

June 2007 – The SCCRC recommends that Megrahi is granted a second appeal against his conviction.

18 August 2009 – Megrahi’s move to drop his second appeal is accepted by judges at The High Court in Edinburgh.

20 August 2009 – Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, is released from prison on compassionate grounds.

May 2012 – Megrahi dies at his home in Tripoli, aged 60.

July 2015 – Scottish judges rule that relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims should not be allowed to pursue an appeal on Megrahi’s behalf. Courts had previously ruled that only next of kin could proceed with a posthumous application.

July 2017 – Megrahi’s family launched a new bid to appeal against his conviction.

March 2020 – The Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission said Megrahi’s conviction can be taken to a fresh appeal.

The appeal bid was lodged three years ago on behalf of his family and supported by relatives of some of those killed in the disaster.

The Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission (SCCRC) said it had considered six grounds of review and concluded that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred by reason of “unreasonable verdict” and “non-disclosure”.

It rejected the four other possible grounds of review.

It said that “no reasonable trial court could have accepted that Megrahi was identified as the purchaser” of items that were inside a bomb suitcase used in the attack.

It also found that the Crown should have disclosed to the defence a statement and a police report concerning possession of photographs of Megrahi by a Maltese shopkeeper whose evidence helped to convict the Libyan.

The commission has published further details of its findings on its website.

BBC News