A PETITION has been lodged with the High Court in Edinburgh to determine whether an appeal against the Lockerbie bomber’s conviction can be taken forward by relatives of some of those killed in the attack.
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) confirmed it is seeking the opinion of judges in relation to the case of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.
The Libyan, who died protesting his innocence in his home country in 2012, is the only person convicted for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the south of Scotland on 21 December 1988 with 270 people killed.
While previous court decisions have meant only the executor of a dead person’s estate or their next of kin could proceed with such an application, the SCCRC wants to determine if a member of the victims’ families – such as Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter – might be classed as a “person with a legitimate interest to pursue an appeal” if the case is referred back to the High Court.
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It comes after an application to the SCCRC to review Megrahi’s conviction from solicitor Aamer Anwar earlier this year.SCCRC chief executive Gerald Sinclair said that, since June, it had proceeded on the basis that Megrahi’s family are involved in the present application.
But he said: “The commission has now reached the conclusion that the current application is being actively supported only by the members of the victims’ families, who would no doubt be prepared to pursue an appeal if allowed to do so.
“The aim of the petition is to seek the advice of the court on whether members of the victims’ families would be entitled to pursue an appeal on behalf of Mr Megrahi if the commission ultimately decided to refer the current application, as previous court decisions have restricted this role to executors and the next of kin of the convicted person.” Mr Anwar said: “With respect, we would submit the commission are wrong and we remain instructed by members of the Megrahi family as well as the British relatives.”
He said he had been “in communication with the Megrahi family, both via intermediaries and directly” but added that this was “hampered by an extremely dangerous situation in Libya”.
Mr Anwar said Scotland’s top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, had highlighted this as “an explanation for lack of any progress in relation to investigations into the Lockerbie atrocity”.
The lawyer added: “Put simply, if the Lord Advocate with all the resources of the state cannot make progress, then it is highly unlikely we can travel to Libya in the near future to obtain the necessary documentation. Nor will we expect the Megrahi family to put their lives unnecessarily at risk to provide the required documentation in what can be termed as a ‘failed state’.”
Mr Anwar added: “With regards to the rights of the victims’ families to pursue an appeal, we would submit that there is a fundamental duty on the state to protect the rights of victims of crime, which includes the national courts’ responsibility for the administration of justice.”
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