Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The first SCCRC application and consequent appeal

[The following are two items from this date in 2002 and 2009 respectively. Both relate to Abdelbaset Megrahi’s first SCCRC application and consequent appeal:]

1. From The Scotsman

The legal expert who brokered the Lockerbie trial is helping the Libyan government to lodge a fresh appeal against the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, it emerged yesterday.

Professor Robert Black, a law lecturer at Edinburgh University, flew to Tripoli the day after Megrahi’s appeal was rejected last week.

He said he regarded the case as a miscarriage of justice because the court did not consider all the available evidence. "We have not seen the end of this case," Prof Black added.

Thousands of people marched through the Libyan capital yesterday in protest at the decision of the appeal court judges to uphold the conviction of Megrahi. Riot police supervised demonstrations outside a UN office.

A statement handed to a UN representative said Megrahi’s life sentence "contradicts international laws, as it was handed as a result of political pressure aimed at settling account with the Libyan revolution."

Prof Black was invited to the country by the Libyan government’s Lockerbie Committee, which is planning to lodge an appeal through the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. It was he who proposed the idea of trying the Lockerbie suspects in a neutral third country, which was the breakthrough which led to Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi agreeing to hand the two accused over for trial in the Netherlands.

Megrahi was convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, resulting in the deaths of 270 people, and lost his appeal last week. (...)

The Libyan government has said it will appeal the ruling to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights.

Prof Black said: "I am sure that at some point they will actually make an application to the Scottish Commission which deals with miscarriages of justice. The commission could then refer it back to the appeal court.

"I predict the grounds for that would be that evidence is emerging that has not yet seen the light of day. There is a hell of a lot more evidence about Lockerbie that appeared at neither the trial nor the appeal."

2. From The Herald
Three senior judges yesterday ordered 45 pieces of key evidence to be handed over to the legal team representing the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in an embarrassing setback for the Crown Office.
The vital documents include a secret fax that could discredit a key prosecution witness.
The court of criminal appeal in Edinburgh ordered prosecutors to find and disclose the different evidence, which has so far been kept secret from the defence.

Last month lawyers for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the man convicted of the 1988 bombing, began the challenge over material they believe will free their terminally ill client.

But the Crown Office and the UK Advocate General claimed that in some cases the evidence does not exist or is irrelevant.

The Libyan's defence team applied to see 48 documents, which included a fax they claim places a fundamental question mark against the original trial testimony of Tony Gauci, who sold clothes later found in the wreckage of Pan Am 103 at Lockerbie.

The judges rejected three of the requests, including demands for information about the number of times police and US agencies had contact with Mr Gauci.

However, the onus will now be on the Crown to identify and share a range of other undisclosed documents, including those expected to show that Scottish police recommended to US authorities that both the main witness in the trial and his brother should be paid a reward of up to $3m, or $1.5m.

Lord Hamilton, the Lord Justice General, who was sitting with Lord Kingarth and Lord Eassie, said: "Without expressing any view on the adequacy of the steps already taken by the Crown to satisfy the claims for recovery, we consider that the appropriate course at this stage is to identify the classes of document which, if they exist, the appellant is in our judgment entitled to recover."

Megrahi's appeal is due to begin on April 27 and could last at least 12 months. Megrahi, who is suffering from advanced prostate cancer, is determined to clear his name but it is far from certain that he would survive such a long appeal case.

Libyan authorities have been encouraged to apply for a prisoner transfer to allow Megrahi to spend his remaining time with his family, but this would mean dropping the appeal, which he is not prepared to do.

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