Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Fresh inquiry call into Lockerbie bomber’s conviction

[This is the headline over a report in today's edition of The Press and Journal, a daily newspaper circulating mainly in the North-East of Scotland. It reads in part:]

Justice for Megrahi group says verdict ‘fatally flawed’ and calls for ministers to re-examine trial evidence

The Scottish Government has been urged to launch an independent inquiry into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber.

Campaigners have called on MSPs to put pressure on SNP ministers to re-examine the evidence presented at the trial of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in 2001.

A group called Justice for Megrahi claims the verdict was “fatally flawed” and says a fresh probe is needed to establish who was really responsible for the atrocity.

Group member Dr Jim Swire said the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission had concluded that the Libyan’s trial may have been a miscarriage of justice.

The campaigner, whose 24-year-old daughter Flora was one of 270 people who died when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up and crashed into Lockerbie in 1988, said the verdict had damaged the reputation of Scotland’s justice system. (...)

Mr Swire said the group had lodged a petition at Holyrood calling for action because the UK and Scottish governments had been playing a “macabre game of ping-pong” over who was responsible for addressing claims Megrahi was wrongly convicted.

Mr Swire, who visited Mr Megrahi in Libya last month, said: “Almost everyone who has looked at the evidence has come to the conclusion it was fatally flawed.

“Megrahi was allowed to start a second appeal but when he saw a chance to get home to his family to die he decided to withdraw it.

“I understand why he did it, but it has left Scotland in a very difficult position.

“The justice system is regarded with scorn in many countries because there is a view that it is available to manipulation. We should be demanding this verdict is reviewed so we can start to recover the reputation of the justice system.”

The Scottish Government said it did not doubt the safety of Megrahi’s conviction but understood that others did.

A spokesman said ministers would be happy to co-operate fully with any inquiry but they were not in a position to order a probe because several countries had an interest.

“The questions to be asked and answered in any such inquiry would be beyond the jurisdiction of Scots Law and the remit of the government,” he said. “Such an inquiry would therefore need to be initiated by those with the required power and authority to deal with an issue, international in its nature.”

Holyrood’s public petitions committee is expected to discuss the issue next month.

[The petition remains open for signature until 28 October.]

1 comment:

  1. The P n' J were rather scornful just a coup'la months ago. Perhaps the mauling they received from their commenters opened minds!