Libyan cleared over Lockerbie may be retried under double jeopardy

FAMILIES of Lockerbie bombing victims hope an attempt by prosecutors to put Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi's co- accused on trial again will shed new light on the atrocity.

The Crown Office is examining new evidence to establish whether it is strong enough to invoke the new double-jeopardy law, which allows prosecutors to try someone twice for the same offence.

Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 55, a former station manager for Libyan Arab Airlines, was acquitted of 270 counts of murder in 2001 after the trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.

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Victims' families are split on whether he or Megrahi, 59, who was convicted but released in 2009 on compassionate grounds, were behind the terror plot, but all want to see further investigations.

Jean Berkley, 80, from Northumberland, co-ordinator of the UK Families Flight 103 group, who lost her son, Alistair, 29, in the bombing, said: "We've always been told the investigation remains open, but it never occurred to us they would be coming back for Fhimah.

"Anything that sheds any light we would be interested in.

"Our concern has been that we were unconvinced by the trial or that the evidence was sufficient to find Megrahi guilty.

"However, we're glad to see anything that keeps Lockerbie in the public eye. There are too many questions that remain. Our aim is to get more of the truth."

The Rev John Mosey, from Cumbria, whose 19-year-old daughter Helga was killed, said: "Having sat through the trial, the first appeal and the second appeal - until it was aborted - I am 95 per cent certain that Megrahi was innocent. There was even less evidence against Fhimah. However, the more they look at it, the more possibility they will see that there's something very, very wrong here."

Susan Cohen, 73, from New Jersey in the United States, whose daughter Theo, 20, died in the attack, is convinced of Megrahi's guilt and would welcome a new prosecution. She said: "I think that's fine if they can do it and have the evidence to do it, although I can't say I have much faith in the Scottish legal system after Megrahi was released.

"If you look at Wikileaks, for example, there's no sign that Libya did not do it - that Megrahi was framed."

Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, who was promoted to the role of Scotland's chief prosecutor after last month's elections, has set up a double-jeopardy unit to look at failed prosecutions.

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It will examine cases including the 2007 trial of convicted killer Angus Sinclair for the "World's End" murders of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott, both 17, in 1977, and the not proven verdict after the trial of Francis Auld for the murder of Lanarkshire teenager Amanda Duffy in 1992.

However, Fhimah is the unit's top priority.

Mr Mulholland has also said he would be willing to launch a prosecution against Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, and is keen to speak to former Libyan justice minister Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil, who has claimed to have evidence linking Gaddafi to Lockerbie.

But Mrs Cohen said she hoped Gaddafi would be killed, rather than face trial.

"As far as I'm concerned, any prosecution of Gaddafi would go before the international court," she said. "That's very slow. My preferred solution is that Gaddafi is killed - he is dangerous, he will kill again. He is the worst sort of tyrant and terrorist."A Crown Office spokesman said: "As the investigation into the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 remains live, and in order to preserve the integrity of that investigation, it would not be appropriate at this time to offer any further comment or the detail of ongoing inquiries.

"The Solicitor General, Lesley Thomson, has been asked by the Lord Advocate to review and prioritise cases which may be prosecuted anew under the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Bill. It is too early to say which cases would be considered."

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