[What follows is excerpted from a report in today's edition of The National headlined Lockerbie appeal lawyer raises questions over timing of US suspect announcement:]
A lawyer representing the family of the late Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in their court bid to clear him of blame for the Lockerbie bombing has criticised America’s timing in announcing it intended to indict another man for the atrocity. (...)
American media reports claimed the US Justice Department expected to unseal charges in the coming days, with Abu Agila Mas’ud named as the suspect that will be indicted.
Five appeal judges in Edinburgh are currently deliberating whether to acquit Megrahi after the conclusion of the third appeal against his conviction last month.
Lawyer Aamer Anwar, who is acting for the Megrahi family, said the timing of the American announcement was suspect.
“How ‘convenient’ that this should happen just as the decision of the Megrahi miscarriage of justice appeal in the Scottish courts is awaited,” he said. “It’s difficult not to be cynical about the motivation of the Americans, that on the eve of the anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing as well as the appeal decision, the US now wish to indict an individual, 32 years after the bombing, what exactly have they been doing up until now?
“Why would the Attorney General William Barr wait just as he is about to step down from the Justice Department, considering that he has been involved with this case since 1991 … It is once again a matter of deep concern that the Americans claim to have shared information with Scottish authorities in 2017, yet for some reason this information was never disclosed to the Megrahi family’s legal team.”
Anwar’s comments came as Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the attack and is convinced that Megrahi was innocent, said he hoped the truth would come out. He told BBC Breakfast: “My position has been difficult in that I cannot bring myself to feel that the evidence we’ve heard so far does in fact point us towards the truth of who committed those 270 foul murders back in 1988 … I do hope that with what’s going on at the moment, coming up to the 32nd anniversary of this awful business on Monday, that some truth will come out of what’s happening now.”
US journalist Ken Dornstein told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that he had passed fresh information about Mas’ud to the FBI after he discovered more details about him.
He added: “I think a little bit of truth, if it can be established beyond any real doubt in this case, is always important to fight for.”