Clash over Lockerbie bomber's appeal

JUDGES were told yesterday it would be "absurd" and "illogical" to allow the Lockerbie bomber a wide-ranging second attempt to overturn his conviction.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi's lawyers want to go beyond the limited grounds identified by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission when it suggested he might have suffered a miscarriage of justice.

But the Crown told the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh Megrahi's right was only to argue an appeal on the reasons given by the commission for referring the case to the court.

Megrahi, 56, a former Libyan intelligence officer, is serving a minimum of 27 years in prison, after being found guilty of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people.

An appeal was rejected in 2002, but last year the commission completed a review of the case and held there were grounds for permitting Megrahi another chance to have his conviction quashed.

Those grounds centred mainly on the purchase in Malta of clothing, packed with the bomb in a suitcase, and a shopkeeper's evidence that Megrahi "resembles a lot" the buyer.

The current hearing is to determine the scope of the appeal, which is unlikely to be heard until next year.

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