Friday, 18 March 2016

"We have not seen the end of this case"

[What follows is the text of a report headlined Law expert helps Libya with Lockerbie appeal that appeared in The Scotsman on this date in 2002:]

The legal expert who brokered the Lockerbie trial is helping the Libyan government to lodge a fresh appeal against the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, it emerged yesterday.

Professor Robert Black, a law lecturer at Edinburgh University, flew to Tripoli the day after Megrahi’s appeal was rejected last week.

He said he regarded the case as a miscarriage of justice because the court did not consider all the available evidence. "We have not seen the end of this case," Prof Black added.

Thousands of people marched through the Libyan capital yesterday in protest at the decision of the appeal court judges to uphold the conviction of Megrahi. Riot police supervised demonstrations outside a UN office.

A statement handed to a UN representative said Megrahi’s life sentence "contradicts international laws, as it was handed as a result of political pressure aimed at settling account with the Libyan revolution."

Prof Black was invited to the country by the Libyan government’s Lockerbie Committee, which is planning to lodge an appeal through the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. It was he who proposed the idea of trying the Lockerbie suspects in a neutral third country, which was the breakthrough which led to Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi agreeing to hand the two accused over for trial in the Netherlands.

Megrahi was convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, resulting in the deaths of 270 people, and lost his appeal last week.

Fresh doubts over his conviction were raised with claims that senior police officers covered up the discovery of important evidence in the wreckage of the Boeing 747.

Mary Boylan, 53, a retired Lothian and Borders Police officer, said she found a CIA identification badge among the debris but was told not to make a record of the find in her notebook.

Megrahi was found guilty of loading an unaccompanied suitcase bomb in Malta that was later transferred on to the Pan Am aircraft, which exploded en route to New York.

The Libyan government has said it will appeal the ruling to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights.

Prof Black said: "I am sure that at some point they will actually make an application to the Scottish Commission which deals with miscarriages of justice. The commission could then refer it back to the appeal court.

"I predict the grounds for that would be that evidence is emerging that has not yet seen the light of day. There is a hell of a lot more evidence about Lockerbie that appeared at neither the trial nor the appeal."

Libya, which is still subject to stringent UN sanctions over the Lockerbie bombing, faces a claim of up to £1.3 million compensation from relatives of each of the victims.

[RB: Perhaps the most immediate consequence of these discussions in Tripoli was the replacement of the Scottish legal team that had represented Megrahi at the Zeist trial and appeal.]

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