Lockerbie bombing: campaigners make accusation of blanket cover-up
A FRESH legal bid to overturn the conviction of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is set to be launched after he dies, MSPs have been told.
And campaigners with the Justice for Megrahi group claimed there has been an “orchestrated” effort by the authorities to withhold key details about the case.
Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the 1988 bombing, indicated he was ready to take up a fresh appeal, if Megrahi’s family did not, after the Libyan, who has terminal prostate cancer, dies.
Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 on 21 December 1988, which killed 270 people, 11 on the ground. He was found guilty by a panel of judges at a specially convened Scottish court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. A co-accused, Lamin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted.
“The professional advice that I’ve received is that it would be perfectly possible for other individuals who are affected by this case to approach the SCCRC [Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission] to request a further appeal be granted,” Mr Swire told Holyrood’s justice committee yesterday.
“In that event, I understand that number one in the pecking order would be Megrahi’s family – to whom I’ve spoken. In the event they didn’t want to pursue it, it would fall to other people who were affected by it, unfortunately, like myself and those who support what we’ve been trying to do.
“So one way forward would be the request for a further appeal to be heard at the High Court in this city.”
The committee was taking evidence on the Criminal Cases (Punishment and Review) (Scotland) Bill, which aims to release the SCCRC’s “statement of reasons” for allowing the appeal against Megrahi’s conviction.
The committee also heard evidence from Sir Gerald Gordon QC, who said publication could still be hampered by data protection laws.
Megrahi dropped the appeal in 2009 and was later released from prison in Scotland on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, a decision made by justice secretary Kenny MacAskill amid protests from victims’ relatives in the US, UK politicians, and pressure from the US government.
A report on the Lockerbie case was sent to the appeal court by the SCCRC, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice, but has not been released. A fresh appeal could see the details emerge in court. Dr Swire added: “I feel there is an orchestrated desire to delay the resolution of this dreadful case.”
The campaign group wants Holyrood to hold a full inquiry and fellow campaigner Iain McKie said “the political will doesn’t exist anywhere else”. He said: “It doesn’t exist in Libya or Europe or England. The only place for this political will to be shown is in Scotland.”
A government spokesman said: “We believe the SCCRC Statement of Reasons should be in the public domain and that is precisely why we have introduced this bill to facilitate publication. The bill is necessary in order to overcome objections by interested parties preventing any publication.”
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