Monday, 9 March 2020

SCCRC to announce Megrahi decision on Wednesday 11 March

A press release containing the following was issued by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission this afternoon:

Application on behalf of Mr Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (the Commission) will announce its decision in the current application in the case of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi on 11 March 2020.

In accordance with its statutory obligations the Commission’s statement of reasons for its decision in the case will not be made public. However, at 14:00 on 11 March 2020 the Commission will issue to the media a short summary of its main findings by way of a news release. Copies of the summary will be available on the Commission’s website,

The Commission does not intend to make any further comment at this time.

Mr Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of the murder of the 259 passengers and crew on board Pan American World Airways flight PA 103 from London to New York, and 11 residents of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988. He subsequently appealed his conviction and his first appeal was refused by the High Court in 2002.

Mr Megrahi first applied to the Commission for a review of his conviction in 2003, and, after a full review, his case was referred by the Commission to the High Court for a new appeal in 2007. Mr Megrahi subsequently abandoned that appeal in 2009. He was released from prison on compassionate grounds shortly thereafter. Mr Megrahi died from cancer in 2012.

1 comment:

  1. I imagine that if (as we hope) the decision is for a referral, the next question is, on what grounds will the appeal proceed? There are three broad areas where the safety of the conviction is clearly highly questionable, but will all three be allowed?

    1. The Gauci identification was the main ground identified by the 2007 SCCRC report. The conviction is clearly vulnerable on that ground and could be quashed on that point alone. However this might be slightly unsatisfactory as it leaves open the possibility that the Crown will continue to imply that Megrahi was indeed the perpetrator, that they got nothing wrong, and it's just a pity that the witness was bribed (or even just a bit unsure) and therefore his evidence had in the end to be excluded. However, as in the end this point from 2007 was never fully tested in court it's difficult to see how the 2020 SCCRC could exclude it from any referral.

    2. The infamous PT/35b fragment of circuit board clearly was not what the Crown represented it to be, and it's possible that there is enough new evidence that wasn't considered by the Zeist court to allow a referral on this point. However we don't know what the bloody thing actually was or where it came from. It's a huge mystery. So even if this point is accepted it again can't be said to prove Megrahi's actual innocence. It does however cast considerable doubt over any assertion that the Crown's case was essentially sound as regards the modus operandi of the crime.

    3. The baggage transfer records. The analysis of these records conclusively proves that the bomb did not come from Malta, and thus conclusively proves Megrahi's actual innocence. However most of these records were before the court at Zeist, they were just misinterpreted or not interpreted at all. Is there enough "new evidence" there for the SCCRC to include that in their grounds of referral? I think that's the biggie.

    However, a referral on any grounds is the first step. Even if only the identification evidence is allowed to be challenged, an acquittal on that point would remove the barrier to a proper investigation of what happened. Up till now all calls for an investigation have been rejected on the grounds that we know what happened, we have a conviction. If the conviction is no longer there then that no longer applies.

    If the verdict is overturned that itself in my opinion is only the next step towards a proper public inquiry where all the various dodgy dealings in this case can be properly examined and brought out into the open. If that happens it's going to make Hillsborough look like a vicar's tea party.