Monday 8 August 2016

Lawyer confident about Lockerbie appeal

[This is the headline over a report published on the BBC News website on this date in 2001. It reads in part:]

The Libyan lawyer in charge of the Lockerbie bomber's appeal says he is confident that his client will soon be freed.

Dr Ibrahim Legwell's comments came after it was revealed that two top international legal experts had joined the appeal team.

English barrister Michael Mansfield QC and American human rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz are both involved in the fight to free Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.

The Libyan was sentenced to life imprisonment earlier this year for murdering 270 people in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.

His co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fahima, was found not guilty by three judges at a specially convened Scottish court in the Netherlands.

Speaking from London on Wednesday, Dr Legwell said: "I sent them a copy of the verdict and the transcripts of the trial and asked them for their views and analysis.

"I wanted to know what western lawyers thought about the verdict.

"Their replies gave me the confidence that we can go ahead with the trial with confidence in the western judicial system.

"There are definite aspects which show there has been a miscarriage of justice and I am very confident that we will be able to turn over his conviction." (...)

A further six lawyers have been enlisted to work on Megrahi's appeal.

Among them is Clive Nicholls QC, who represented the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet during extradition hearings at the High Court in London last year.

High profile American lawyer Frank Rubino has also been recruited to the appeal team.

Dr Legwell said he would consult the international legal team for further advice before passing it on to "our Scottish defence team so they can adapt it to Scots law".

Referring to his client, Dr Legwell said: "He is suffering a lot because he knows he is innocent, but has been convicted. But he is optimistic and confident he will win his case."

[RB: Dr Legwell had been the Libyan lawyer originally appointed to represent Megrahi and Fhimah. He was sacked in September 1998 and replaced by Kamal Maghur: the circumstances are outlined here. Maghur died shortly after the Zeist trial ended with Megrahi’s conviction, and Legwell took up the reins once again.

Dr Legwell was always a great enthusiast for international advisory teams, though what they could usefully contribute to preparation for a Scottish trial seemed, to me at least, to be questionable. Here is something written by me about an earlier stage in the case:]
… it was indicated to me that the Libyan government was satisfied regarding the fairness of a criminal trial in Scotland but that since Libyan law prevented the extradition of nationals for trial overseas, the ultimate decision on surrender for trial would have to beone taken voluntarily by the accused persons themselves, in consultation with their independent legal advisers. For this purpose a meeting was convened in Tripoli in October 1993 of the international team of lawyers which had already been appointed to represent the accused. This team consisted of lawyers from Scotland, England, Malta, Switzerland and the United States and was chaired by the principal Libyan lawyer for the accused, Dr Ibrahim Legwell. The Libyan government asked me to be present in Tripoli while the team was meeting so that the government itself would have access to independent Scottish legal advice should the need arise.


  1. Dear Professor Robert Black

    Please what is the address and department to submit an appeal in the "Lockerbie case", in Scotland
    many thanks, Edwin

    1. Any further appeal would require an application to be made to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. Contact details here: But the Scottish court has already refused to permit an appeal to be brought by victims' relatives such as Jim Swire and John Mosey and has indicated that any new application would have to be by close relatives of Abdelbaset himself, such as his widow and children.