[What follows is the text of a Reuters news agency report published this afternoon:]
The family of a Libyan man found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing which killed 270 people will seek to appeal the conviction direct to Britain’s top court after being refused permission by the Scottish Appeal Court, their lawyer said.
Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, an intelligence officer who died in 2012, was jailed for life in 2001 for the murder of 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 residents of the Scottish town of Lockerbie in the deadliest militant attack in British history.
In January, the Court of Criminal Appeal in Scotland rejected an appeal brought by his family, who had argued that there had been a possible misconduct of justice, and their lawyer Aamer Anwar said on Thursday the same court had now refused permission for them to appeal that decision.
“I have now instructed our legal team to seek leave to appeal directly to the UK Supreme Court which is the final court of appeal for my father’s case,” Megrahi’s son Ali said in a statement.
“I regard my father Abdelbasset Al-Megrahi as the 271st victim of Lockerbie.”
Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie in December 1988 en route from London to New York, carrying mostly Americans on their way home for Christmas.
Megrahi, who denied involvement in the attack, died in Libya in 2012 after being released three years earlier by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds due to prostate cancer.
Former leader Muammar Gaddafi accepted Libya’s responsibility for the bombing in 2003 and paid compensation to families, but did not admit personally ordering it.
However, Megrahi’s family and some relatives of the Scottish victims have always doubted his guilt and Libya’s responsibility, and say the truth has yet to come out.
[RB: The refusal by the Scottish High Court of Justiciary to grant leave to appeal was anticipated, and the necessity of a direct application to the Supreme Court was planned for.
A report in The Times on 2 April discloses the judges' reason for refusing leave to appeal: “Although the case is clearly one of public importance, the proposed grounds of appeal do not raise points of law of general public importance. The principles of law which the court applied were all well known, settled and largely uncontroversial.” [RB: The court's Statement of Reasons can be read here.]
A report in The National on 2 April contains the following:
[Aamer] Anwar said the appeal ... related to two challenges to the conviction. The first – that no reasonable jury properly directed could have convicted Megrahi on the evidence led – as it focused on that of Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper who said Megrahi had bought from him clothing put in a suitcase containing the bomb that was planted on the plane.
The second was a failure to disclose information to the defence which led to an unfair trial and thus a miscarriage of justice. This related to Gauci’s identification of Megrahi.
He added: “I have no doubt that the new democratic Libyan government headed by Abdul Hamid Dabaiba will support this final appeal for justice on behalf of the al-Megrahi family and help in our efforts to prove the innocence of Libya and its people.”]