Lockerbie case to be reopened

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Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, miscarriage of justice

Lockerbie case to be reopened

By Dr. Ludwig De Braeckeleer

Thursday, July 5, 2007

On June 28, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) announced that the Libyan agent convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie deserves a second appeal. The dramatic legal decision is likely to embarrass Washington and London.

In January 2001, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was convicted in a special court located in the Netherlands under Scottish rules for the murder of 270 people who died in the explosion. In March 2002, his request for appeal was rejected. Since then, He has been serving a life sentence in Gateside Prison in Greenock. Megrahi has always maintained his innocence.

Since September 2003, the SCCRC has investigated his conviction. On Thursday, the commission released an 800-page document in which they explain why they believe that the former Libyan agent may have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

New evidence not heard at the trial and additional evidence not made available to the defense constitute the ground of referral in a case described by the chief executive of the SCCRC as the "longest, the most expensive and singularly most complex they have had to investigate and review."

The families of the relatives who died in the tragedy welcome the appeal, as they hope that the truth will finally come out.

The Rev. John Mosey, who lost his 19-year-old daughter in the explosion, believes that the appeal is needed for the sake of the Scottish justice system.

"The group [of relatives of the victims] feels strongly that the full and true facts about the bombing have not been satisfactorily explained," Mosey said.

"And we very much hope that this long-awaited decision will lead to the emergence of more information," he added.

Should the initial ruling be overturned in the appeal, it is certain that the families will request an independent inquiry.

Former foreign secretary Jack Straw has consistently opposed such an inquiry, arguing that nothing further could be learned. Mosey and other members of the UK103 families group disagree.

"And it's very clear to us today, from this announcement by the SCCRC, that there are a number of eminent independent and learned gentlemen in Scotland who believe that there is yet a great deal more to be learned," Mosey said at a media briefing in the Scottish parliament.

Jim Swire, who also lost his daughter in the tragedy, describes the ruling of Megrahi as the most disgraceful miscarriage of justice in history, blaming both the Scottish legal system and U.S. intelligence.

"The Americans played their role in the investigation and influenced the prosecution," Swire told the Scotsman newspaper.

Top-level U.K. diplomats tend to agree with him, such as Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya.

"No court is likely get to the truth, now that various intelligence agencies have had the opportunity to corrupt the evidence," Miles told the BBC.

The spectacular decision of the SCCRC is certain to give a second life to the dozen of alternative theories of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Nearly two decades later, the case is back to square one.

Canada Free Press, CFP Editor Judi McLeod