Sunday, 29 November 2015

Lockerbie 'no case' plea rejected

[This is the headline over a report published on this date in 2000 on the BBC News website. It reads as follows:]

Judges in the Lockerbie trial have rejected an appeal by one of the accused to throw out the case against him.

They ruled that the prosecution had led sufficient evidence for Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah to remain on trial at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands.

Richard Keen QC, lead defence lawyer for Fhimah, 44, had submitted that his client had "no case to answer".

Mr Fhimah and Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 48, are accused of murdering 270 people by blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988.

The defence has argued that the evidence put forward to try to prove Mr Fhimah was a Libyan spy who helped in the conspiracy to bomb the Pan Am airliner is either circumstantial or non-existent.

After considering the submission overnight, the presiding judge, Lord Sutherland, said: "We are unable to be satisfied there is no case to answer and must therefore refuse Mr Keen's motion.

"We have regard in particular to certain entries in the second accused's diary, his association with the first accused with whom he is charged with acting in concert and crucially the evidence of (Abdul Mijid) Giaka."

Giaka is a CIA mole who gave evidence for the prosecution and testified that Mr Fahima kept explosives in his desk at Malta's Luqa airport.

The judge stressed that at this stage, the court was not concerned with the credibility and reliability of witnesses.

According to evidence presented by the prosecution, Mr Fhimah was shown to have made entries in his diary reminding himself to acquire Air Malta luggage tags a few days before the attack.

The trial against both men will resume next Tuesday with the first witnesses called by Mr Megrahi's defence team.

It is likely that he will give evidence himself at some point during the week.

Defence lawyers will claim that a Palestinian underground group or groups were behind the bombing.

[RB: The report on the day’s proceedings from Glasgow University’s Lockerbie Trial Briefing Unit can be accessed here.]

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