Friday, 14 August 2009

Abandonment of appeal

[What follows is the text of a press release from Abdelbaset Megrahi's solicitors.]

Since his diagnosis with inoperable prostate cancer in autumn 2008 Mr Megrahi's health has deteriorated. His condition has taken a significant turn for the worse in recent weeks.

Mr Al Megrahi can confirm that on 12th August he applied to the High Court of Justiciary to abandon his appeal against conviction under section 116 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.

As the appeal hearing has commenced, and the court seized of the matter, leave of the court is required before the appeal can be formally abandoned.

Notes for Editors

In May 2009 the Libyan Government applied for Mr Al Megrahi to be transferred back to Libya under and in terms of a prisoner transfer treaty negotiated between the UK and Libya.

Last month Mr Al Megrahi made a separate application to the Scottish Justice Secretary to be released on compassionate grounds.

Press release from the Scottish Court Service:

A procedural hearing will take place at 10.00am on Tuesday 18th August 2009 to consider a Minute of Abandonment lodged on behalf of the appellant Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi.

The hearing will be held in Court 3 at the Lawnmarket Building of the High Court in Edinburgh.

Mr. Megrahi will not be present in court.

Press release from the Scottish Government:

In relation to the Minute of Abandonment lodged on behalf of Mr Al Megrahi to be heard in the High Court next Tuesday (August 18), a Scottish Government spokesperson said:

"This is entirely a matter for the court, Mr Al Megrahi and his legal team. The Justice Secretary is continuing his considerations of both the applications before him, one under the UK-Libyan Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA), and the other on compassionate grounds. He expects to make a decision soon."

Having no criminal proceedings pending is a necessary but not sufficient condition of a PTA application, but an application for compassionate release depends on entirely different criteria.

The Prisoner Transfer Agreement ratified by the UK and Libya states at Article 3(b) that a condition for transfer is that: "the judgment is final and no other criminal proceedings relating to the offence or any other offence committed by the prisoner are pending in the transferring State".

Statement by the First Minister:

First Minister Alex Salmond said the Scottish Government had not put any pressure on the Libyan to drop his second appeal.

Speaking in Edinburgh before Megrahi's application to drop his appeal was announced, he said: "We have no interest in pressurising people to drop appeals, why on earth should we?

"That's not our position - never has been."

He added: "Nothing that the Scottish Government has done or said suggests pressure on anybody to do anything."

He also said the issue would not be discussed at cabinet on Tuesday, saying it was a judicial matter, not a political one.

"This is a matter the justice secretary must determine and he must do it purely on judicial grounds, which is what he's been doing," he said.

[As reported on the BBC News website.]


  1. So Abdelbasset has chosen to go home to die without the possbility of clearing his name through the appeal process rather than go home to die whilst clearing his name. Apparently, then, he prefers to die with the world believing he is a muderous terrorist rather than an innocent victim.

    This can only be seen as in any way logical if either he is guilty and fears that the appeal will prove this conclusively OR he has dropped the appeal because he has been threatened with dying alone in prison if he does not.

    Having studied and investigated this case for more than 20 years, I am convinced he is innocent. For me, that means his release has been made conditional on his dropping the appeal. A triumph for Scottish justice and international diplomacy!

  2. How sick that the UK government should either broker a deal or intimidate a dying man.

    How sick that the UK government denies the victim's families the right to know who killed their daughters, sons, mothers...

    How sick it is that the Libyans who suffered horrendously under sanctions should not know why.

    How sick it is that all the people who perpetrated the crime will get away scotfree.

    And last but not least how very sick it is that all those who appear to have conspired to conceal the true perpetrators and fit up an innocent man including the three judges should now be sitting comfortably knowing their arses are protected and ready again at the UK government's behest to fit up whoever.

  3. It's a sad day for Scots law, the Scottish criminal justice system, and justice itself.

    What I don't understand is why he has abandoned the appeal if there was the possibility of compassionate release (which would allow the appeal to continue) next week. It doesn't smell too good.