Hundreds sign petition seeking inquiry into Lockerbie bomber conviction
A PETITION urging ministers to hold an independent inquiry into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber has been signed by almost 1,000 people in its first week.
Campaigners launched the petition, calling on MSPs to put pressure on the Scottish Government to re-examine the evidence presented at the 2001 trial of Abdelbaset Ali al Megrahi at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. Since then, hundreds of signatories have come forward including award-winning novelists AL Kennedy, James Robertson, and Aonghas MacNeacail and senior figures within the legal community, such as Len Murray, the retired High Court judge, Ian Hamilton QC, most famous for stealing the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey, and Hector MacQueen, the Scots law professor and a vice-president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Notable signatories from outwith Scotland include Benedict Birnberg, the retired human rights solicitor who acted for Virgin tycoon Richard Branson and Ian Brady, the Moors murderer, among others, during his 40-year career.
The petition has also been signed by about 100 people from Malta, where the bomb which caused the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103, claiming 270 lives, was said to have been smuggled on board.
Some long-term Lockerbie campaigners, including Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the mid-air explosion, believe that Megrahi, the only man convicted of playing a part in the atrocity and who was released from prison on compassionate grounds last year, is innocent. Robertson, a former Booker longlist nominee, whose latest novel, And The Land Stood Still, was published this month, said he had felt strongly about the Lockerbie issue for several years, but had only become "actively engaged" over the last year.
"When Megrahi was released the political shenanigans detracted attention from the important issue: the safety of the verdict at the Camp Zeist trial," he said.
"If you look at the original trial it seems the evidence on which Megrahi was convicted was very slight, in my view. Since then we've learned a lot more, but it hasn't been dealt with by the courts."
Robertson said he has taken a stand because he fears that when Megrahi dies, the truth will never be told. "It is crucial for the relatives because they feel, 22 years after the event, that they still don't know what happened and who was responsible," he said.
"There is also a stain on the Scottish justice system, as this does not look or feel right.As long as the answers are not addressed this stain will not be removed."
The petition was raised by the Justice for Megrahi campaign group, which includes Swire and Professor Robert Black QC, widely credited with coming up with the framework for Megrahi's unique trial, which was held in a foreign jurisdiction but under Scots law.
Dr Swire, who has long been convinced that Megrahi is innocent, said yesterday he was pleased with the response to date.
"No Scottish lawyer I know of believes in the integrity of the verdict. All it takes for this situation to continue is for good men to do nothing so I would urge people to sign the petition now."
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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