Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Lockerbie bomber could die before appeal outcome

[This is the headline over a report just published on The Scotsman's website. It reads as follows:]

The cancer-stricken Lockerbie bomber could die before a decision is made on his appeal after new delays in the case, his lawyer warned today.

It was revealed that one of the judges hearing Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi's long-running appeal against conviction has had heart surgery.

Scotland's top judge, the Lord Justice General Lord Hamilton, told the High Court in Edinburgh that Lord Wheatley's recuperation may be "protracted" and it is thought he will not be fit to resume judicial duties until mid-September.

Lord Hamilton said the situation "complicates matters".

The court has already heard full submissions on two grounds of appeal, but the court will not now be able to give its decision on those grounds until the autumn.

Al Megrahi's QC, Margaret Scott, expressed dismay at the situation, but acknowledged it arose out of "unforeseen and unexpected" circumstances.

She told the court the defence wished to see a decision reached as soon as possible.

"My Lord will appreciate in this court justice delayed is justice denied," she said. "There is a very real risk my client will die before this appeal is adjudicated."

She added that it was difficult to conceive of "more pressing circumstances".

Al Megrahi was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year.

Ms Scott told the court that her client's health was deteriorating and he was experiencing a "relentless onset of symptoms".

[A somewhat more informative report has just been posted on the BBC News website. It can be read here.]

4 comments:

Patrick Haseldine said...

This is the text of today's court statement:

"STATEMENT BY THE COURT

in causa

ABDEL BASET ALI MOHMED AL MEGRAHI

v

HM ADVOCATE

7 JULY 2009

"Today the court convenes in the absence of Lord Wheatley, one of its members. Unexpectedly and recently, Lord Wheatley was advised that he should enter hospital for heart surgery. That he has done. The operation, we are pleased to say, was successful but the period of recuperation may unfortunately be protracted. The expectation is that he will be fit to resume judicial duties about the middle of September, though it may be sooner.

"Prior to Lord Wheatley’s entering hospital significant work had been done by the court following the conclusion of the hearing on grounds of appeal 1 and 2. Further work has been done in his absence. However, as will be appreciated from the nature and length of the written and oral submissions, these grounds give rise to complex and difficult issues both of fact and of law. Resolution of them requires much thought, as well as extensive consultation among the judges. There is no way in which the necessary consultation and resolution could have been completed by today’s date, even if Lord Wheatley had been fully fit. His indisposition, however, complicates matters.

"The court recognises that, in view in particular of his health, the appellant is anxious to have as soon as possible a decision on grounds 1 and 2 and, in particular, would have wished a decision to be intimated on these grounds today. Regrettably, the court is unable to accommodate that. It is only when Lord Wheatley is fit to resume judicial duties that it will be possible to resume consultation among all the judges with a view to reaching a final decision. That decision may be either to proceed on a determination of grounds 1 and 2 or to defer a decision on those grounds until a later stage in the appeal. Even if the former course is adopted, a reasoned decision could not be expected until some time in the Autumn; in the circumstances of this case the judges do not consider that a decision with reasons later would be appropriate.

"Accordingly, today the court is minded, subject to any submissions by counsel, simply to continue the appeal but reserving to itself the right, if so advised, to issue a judgment on grounds 1 and 2 at any time."

I recall that three Judges presided at the Lockerbie trial. An alternate fourth Judge also sat on the bench in order that the trial could continue in case of judicial illness.

Perhaps an alternate sixth Judge should now be appointed for the continuing second Lockerbie appeal, so that illness of any of the five appeal court Judges does not entail further delay in their overturning Mr Megrahi's wrongful conviction for the Lockerbie bombing.

Patrick Haseldine said...

The Crown Office have provided the following supplemental statement:

"Scheduling is a matter for the Court. The Court has set a hearing in Edinburgh starting today (Tuesday, 7 July 2009) to continue until Friday. This will include a preliminary hearing in relation to further grounds of appeal to be discussed. No date has yet been fixed to hear these grounds. The Court will consider the timing and further arrangements for these grounds this week. In addition, this week the Court will also hear a debate on two outstanding petitions for recovery of documents."

Ruth said...

While the judge lies in bed recuperating, no doubt surrounded by family and friends, Megrahi lies dying alone in an alien, evil country.

ebol said...

'Lockerbie-Scandal'

7th of July, 2009: Delays, delays, delays and before a decision is taken by the High Court, a new questionable delay was produced in the case of Abdelbaset al Megrahi's appeal !
What wants the Criminal Justice Directorate achieve with these delays ?
Lord Hamilton said the court has already heard full submissions on two grounds of appeal, but the court will not be able to give its decision on those grounds until autumn 2009. Why ?

MEBO answer:
It is obvious that the Scotthis Justice with these tactics wants Mr. Megrahi to withdraw his appeal ! Only by renouncing his appeal the ill Mr. Megrahi has the possibility to return to his family by a prisoner transfer agreement between the United Kingdom and Libya.
On the other side the Scottish Justice, with these nasty and dirty tactics, wants to defend its criminal Scottish Officials from a criminal prosecution! They are verifiable responsible for the manipulation and falsification of evidence in the Lockerbie-affair and therefore as their backers responsible for the miscarriage of justice against Libya and its Official Megrahi ...
Some of the Scottish Officials are the true criminals in the Lockerbie Affair !!!

Photos, documents and evidence material, see on our webpage: http://www.lockerbie.ch

by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, Mebo Ltd., Switzerland