Lockerbie bomber to appeal

Lockerbie bomber to appeal

GLASGOW – Scotland’s High Court must hear a new appeal by Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi against his conviction for the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing, an independent review board said yesterday.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission said it had ‘identified six grounds where it believes that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred and that it is in the interests of justice to refer the matter to the court of appeal’. Megrahi was found guilty in 2001 of the bombing of a Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, which killed 270 people.He is serving a life sentence in a prison near Glasgow and was told of yesterday’s decision three hours before the announcement.Nearly two-thirds of recent cases referred to the High Court by the commission have ended with appeals being granted, suggesting Megrahi has a reasonable chance of success.That would throw the case wide open after nearly two decades and raise questions about how Libya would respond, after paying more than $2 billion to victims’ families on the basis that Megrahi was guilty.The commission said it had doubts over the trial court’s finding that clothing found in the brown Samsonite suitcase that contained the bomb had been bought by Megrahi at a shop called Mary’s House in Sliema, Malta, on December 7, 1988, two weeks before the disaster.New evidence concerning the date when Christmas lights were switched on in Sliema indicated the items had been purchased before December 6, when there was no evidence Megrahi was in Malta.The shop’s proprietor, Tony Gauci, picked out Megrahi at an identity parade as being the man who bought the goods.But the commission said there was new evidence showing that Gauci, four days before the ID parade, had seen a photograph of Megrahi in a magazine article linking him to the bombing.”In the commission’s view, evidence of Mr Gauci’s exposure to this photograph in such close proximity to the parade undermines the reliability of his identification of (Megrahi) at that time and at the trial itself,” it said in a statement.It did not publicly reveal all of the six grounds for allowing an appeal, reserving some of them for its full, confidential report which runs to more than 800 pages.Officials said it would be months, at least, before the appeal is heard.Libya, seeking international rehabilitation after Washington had long branded it a rogue state, paid compensation to victims’ relatives after telling the United Nations in a 2003 letter it ‘accepts responsibility for the actions of its officials’.Nampa-ReutersMegrahi was found guilty in 2001 of the bombing of a Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, which killed 270 people.He is serving a life sentence in a prison near Glasgow and was told of yesterday’s decision three hours before the announcement.Nearly two-thirds of recent cases referred to the High Court by the commission have ended with appeals being granted, suggesting Megrahi has a reasonable chance of success.That would throw the case wide open after nearly two decades and raise questions about how Libya would respond, after paying more than $2 billion to victims’ families on the basis that Megrahi was guilty.The commission said it had doubts over the trial court’s finding that clothing found in the brown Samsonite suitcase that contained the bomb had been bought by Megrahi at a shop called Mary’s House in Sliema, Malta, on December 7, 1988, two weeks before the disaster.New evidence concerning the date when Christmas lights were switched on in Sliema indicated the items had been purchased before December 6, when there was no evidence Megrahi was in Malta.The shop’s proprietor, Tony Gauci, picked out Megrahi at an identity parade as being the man who bought the goods.But the commission said there was new evidence showing that Gauci, four days before the ID parade, had seen a photograph of Megrahi in a magazine article linking him to the bombing.”In the commission’s view, evidence of Mr Gauci’s exposure to this photograph in such close proximity to the parade undermines the reliability of his identification of (Megrahi) at that time and at the trial itself,” it said in a statement.It did not publicly reveal all of the six grounds for allowing an appeal, reserving some of them for its full, confidential report which runs to more than 800 pages.Officials said it would be months, at least, before the appeal is heard.Libya, seeking international rehabilitation after Washington had long branded it a rogue state, paid compensation to victims’ relatives after telling the United Nations in a 2003 letter it ‘accepts responsibility for the actions of its officials’.Nampa-Reuters

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