South Scotland

Lockerbie families may seek appeal to clear Abdelbaset al-Megrahi

Abdelbasset al-Megrahi
Image caption Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing

A fresh appeal against the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing may be sought by UK relatives of some of those killed.

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died, said he felt an application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission was "the way to go".

He has long believed that Megrahi was wrongfully convicted of the atrocity.

Scottish and US investigators stand by the evidence presented at his trial and are pursuing other potential suspects.

In an article for the Scotsman newspaper, Dr Swire wrote: "Certain relatives will apply to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission for a further appeal against the Megrahi verdict."

In an interview with the BBC, he was less categorical but confirmed that an application was being considered as part of a campaign by UK relatives for a wider inquiry.

"Some of us, myself included, feel so frustrated by 25 years of refusal that we feel that the SCCRC application for appeal is the way to go," said Dr Swire.

"Whatever we do, it may initially concentrate on the verdict against Megrahi but it may equally well be an attempt to blast a route to a proper inquiry through very reluctant authorities."

Image caption Dr Jim Swire has long believed that Megrahi was wrongly convicted for the bombing

At a trial in 2001, Megrahi was found guilty and jailed for life. His co-accused Al-amin Khalifa Fimah was acquitted.

Megrahi's first appeal was rejected. In 2009, he dropped a second appeal prior to being freed from prison on compassionate grounds because he had terminal cancer.

When he died last year, he went to his grave a guilty man.

In a BBC interview on Monday, the Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland said "the conviction stands".

"We were ready to meet the arguments and challenges that Mr Megrahi and his lawyers were placing before the court," he said.

"If there's any further evidence, anyone's got any concerns about it, they should make it known to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission."

The SCCRC has confirmed that posthumous appeals are possible, even if the request does not come from relatives of the person who has died.

'Legitimate interest'

Any applicant must have a "legitimate interest" in the case and the commission would normally consult the deceased's family before accepting an application.

Dr Swire is confident the SCCRC would be sympathetic to a request from UK relatives of Lockerbie victims.

"The relatives are pretty darn central amongst those who want to see re-examination of the verdict," he said.

Image caption Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland told the BBC: "the conviction stands"

"I think there is no doubt that we relatives are valid applicants."

In an interview for the BBC documentary Living With Lockerbie, the former FBI Director Robert Mueller was asked if it would have been better if Megrahi's second appeal had gone ahead.

"Not necessarily," he said.

"I think all the challenges have been aired and aired and aired and aired. And so I'm not certain that we need yet another showing."

US and Scottish authorities are pursuing fresh witnesses and documents in Libya following the revolution that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya's new justice minister, Salah Margani, has said that they will be able to interview the former Libyan spy chief, Abdullah al-Senussi.

"Yes, this is the intention," he told ITV News.

"What we are working on is finalising the arrangements for this as much as obtaining the evidence that's available with the UK and US authorities.

"We all need to know the facts."

The Lord Advocate has confirmed that Libya's new government has also appointed two prosecutors to work with them on the case.

"I follow the evidence as a prosecutor and that takes me to Libya," Mr Mulholland said.

The 25th anniversary of the bombing which claimed 270 lives will be marked in ceremonies in the US and the UK on Saturday.

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