The Criminal Appeal Court (consisting of Lord Justice General Hamilton, Lords Kingarth and Wheatley) today reserved judgement in Abdelbaset Megrahi's application for interim liberation pending his appeal. No indication was given as to how long this period of avizandum (consideration) would be. There is a further sitting of the court already fixed for 27 November, but it is devoutly to be hoped that their Lordships will be in a position to announce their decision before then.
As anticipated in a previous post on this blog, the appellant's counsel, Maggie Scott QC, founded on (1) the substantial nature of the appellant's grounds of appeal, including the fact that some of them have the support of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission; (2) the delay that has already occurred in the case and the further delay that is likely before the appeal is heard; and (3) the state of the appellant's health.
The Crown, represented by Ronnie Clancy QC, opposed the granting of bail, principally on the ground of the gravity of the crime of which the appellant stands convicted (the murder of 270 persons), but also on the basis that at least some of the grounds of appeal were unlikely to succeed; that the delays which had occurred were not (at least primarily) the fault of the Crown (this submission causing a measure of astonishment amongst many of those present in the courtroom); and that the appellant's illness (which the Crown accepted as genuine) could be satisfactorily treated in Greenock Prison.
The court investigated what conditions should be attached to interim liberation, if granted, which at least indicates that the possibility is being taken seriously.
The report of today's hearing on the BBC News website can be read here.