Friday, 8 July 2016

Entire conviction based on flawed premises

[On this date in 2002 the Organisation of African Unity’s Commission of Jurists on the Lockerbie Case presented its report to the summit of OAU Heads of State and Government being held in Durban, South Africa. The following are two paragraphs from the summary of the report:]

1.4  After analysing the judgment in depth with reference to both the Scottish criminal law and procedure as well as universally accepted principles of fair trial, the Commission arrived at the following conclusions: (i) The entire conviction was based upon flawed premises. (ii) The judgement violated the general principles of criminal law and procedure that any reasonable doubt should inure to the benefit of the accused. (iii) The judgement was characterised by strained arguments and inadequate proof of the vital elements. (iv) On important occasions in the judgement, the burden of proof appeared to have been reversed to the prejudice of the defence. (v) The link between the accused and the commission of the crime was at best tenuous, and at worst non-existent.

5 There are numerous flaws in the reasoning which led to both the initial conviction and the subsequent dismissal of the appeal and numerous reasons why Mr Al Megrahi's conviction should be quashed and set aside we respectfully submit, but the most fundamental one, as argued in the Commission's main report, is that the case against him was simply not made out.

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