South Scotland

Megrahi Lockerbie conviction inquiry pressure renewed

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi
Image caption Megrahi was freed on compassionate grounds from a Scottish prison in August 2009

The Scottish government has come under renewed pressure to hold an independent inquiry into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

It follows an Al Jazeera broadcast which claimed that a key witness in the trial was paid for his testimony.

The architect of the Lockerbie trial, Prof Robert Black, said an inquiry was vital for the reputation of the Scottish criminal justice system.

He was writing in the legal affairs magazine the Firm.

Editor Steven Raeburn said that the Scottish government had the power to order an inquiry.

"The government initially said they had no such power," he said.

"There was a game of diplomatic tennis between the Scottish government and the Westminster government each claiming the other was the best forum and had the necessary powers and so on.

"The Scottish government maintained that position for about 18 months until it was demonstrated that they had the power all along under the Inquiries Act 2005 - the power is there."

Last year, Scotland's leading Roman Catholic, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, backed calls for an independent inquiry into the conviction.

Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter in the bombing, has also supported that move.

Megrahi, the only man convicted of the 1988 atrocity in which 270 people died, was released from prison in 2009 on compassionate grounds.

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