Wednesday, 21 September 2016

UK Lockerbie relative would welcome appeal by Megrahi family

[What follows is the text of a report published this morning on the website of the Bromsgrove Advertiser:]

A retired doctor whose daughter died in the Lockerbie bombing says he would welcome an appeal against Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi’s conviction.
Dr Jim Swire, formerly of Pikes Pool Lane in Bromsgrove, has spent nearly three decades campaigning for the truth after his daughter Flora, 23, was among the victims killed in the atrocity.
Megrahi was convicted of 270 counts of murder for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town on December 21, 1998, and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Numerous appeals against his conviction were refused before he was controversially released for compassionate reasons after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008. [RB: Only one appeal was refused; another was abandoned.]
He died in Tripoli, Libya, in 2012, and his son Khalid Al Megrahi has now revealed he will aim to clear his father’s name and seek "justice" with a fresh appeal in Scotland.
Dr Swire, who has always argued Megrahi was used as a scapegoat and that Libya was a side issue, said he would welcome the appeal as a "major step" to discovering the truth.
He told the Advertiser: "It would be fantastic if this appeal did turn up and was examined by the Scottish authorities. We would more than welcome that.
"It would be a major step into getting closer to the truth.
"If Megrahi junior was to come to this country that would be excellent. If the appeal does go ahead I am sure that the original conviction will be overturned."
The UK Families Flight 103 Group have previously had their own appeal into Megrahi’s conviction rejected, including a recent appeal which collapsed last November. [RB: They did not appeal. They made an application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission which dismissed the application having been instructed by the High Court that relatives of the victims of the atrocity did not have a “legitimate interest” to pursue an appeal.]
As the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission said it could not proceed without input from Megrahi’s family, Dr Swire hopes the latest efforts will prove more successful.
Dr Swire, who now lives in Chipping Campden, added: "Last year we tried to persuade the Scottish authorities to action a further appeal against the Megrahi verdict.
"Unfortunately it was decided by a judge of the Scottish High Court that the relatives of the dead did not have the locus to challenge the verdict of the Zeist court in this way.
"Two dozen of us UK relatives had applied together to do so. It is difficult for some of us to accept that the relatives of the dead are deemed not to have a locus on this issue.
"The impression was given to us however that had the Scottish system been able to satisfy itself that Mr Khaled Megrahi was indeed Mr Megrahi's executor and was applying for such an appeal, then agreement for appeal might have been granted.
"Against the chaotic conditions in post-Gaddafi Libya it proved impossible to convince the Scottish authorities that Megrahi's son Khaled was indeed that executor and was genuinely wishing to start a further appeal himself.
"If Khaled Megrahi persists in his expressed wish it may prove possible for a further appeal to be granted.
"That would be a powerful way of getting more of the real story out into the open at last."

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