Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Lockerbie bomber allowed appeal

[This is the headline over a report published on the BBC News website on this date in 2007. It reads in part:]

The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has been granted leave to make a second appeal. (...)

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which has been investigating Megrahi's case since 2003, recommended the second appeal.

In light of the review findings, the Libyan reiterated his innocence.

The commission is responsible for looking into possible miscarriages of justice.

It said the Lockerbie review, which cost £1.1m, was a "difficult" one to deal with.
The chief executive of the group, Gerard Sinclair, said it was the "longest, the most expensive and singularly most complex case we have had to investigate and review".

There were four main areas for referring the case back to court.

They included the "reasonableness" of the court's verdict; additional evidence; new evidence and "other" evidence.

Scotland's Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini said it was inappropriate for her to comment on the basis of the commission's decision.

However, she added that she had appointed Ronald Clancy QC and advocate Nick Gardiner as the Crown's counsel in the event of an appeal going ahead.

It is likely to be held in Scotland before a panel of three judges and is unlikely to be heard for about a year. (...)

Announcing the decision, the chairman of the commission, the Very Reverend Dr Graham Forbes, said: "The commission has a very special role within the Scottish criminal justice system and has been given extensive statutory powers to enable it to carry out this role.

"The function of the commission is not to decide upon the guilt or innocence of an applicant.

"We are neither pro-Crown nor pro-defence. Our role is to examine the grounds of review identified, either by the applicant, a third party, or by our own investigations, and to decide whether any of the grounds meet our statutory test."

Megrahi said in a statement on Thursday that he was never in any doubt that he would be allowed a fresh appeal.

He added: "I was not involved in the Lockerbie bombing whatsoever.

"I am confident that when the full picture is put before the ultimate arbiters, the Lords Commissioners of Justiciary, I shall finally be recognised as an innocent man."

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said the ability to look into alleged miscarriages of justice was a vital part of the criminal justice system, adding that it was now time to allow the independent legal process to take its course.” (...)

Lawyers representing Megrahi have always maintained he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

He has already had one appeal following his conviction in January 2001.

That was heard at Kamp van Zeist, the former Dutch air base where he and his co-accused, Al-amin Khalifa Fhima, were tried.

Mr Fhima was acquitted and flew home to Tripoli.

Megrahi's appeal was rejected in March 2002 and since then he has been held in Gateside Prison in Greenock.

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