Friday, 15 July 2022

UK Supreme Court refuses leave to appeal Megrahi conviction

[The Scottish Crown Office have issued the following statement:]

Re: Decision of the UK Supreme Court in Al Megrahi (Appellant) v Her Majesty's Advocate and another (Respondents) (Scotland) UKSC 2021/0091

On 14 Jul 2022 the UK Supreme Court refused the appellant Ali Abdelbaset Al Megrahi's direct application for leave to appeal.

This means that Mr Abdelbaset Al Megrahi’s original conviction for murder stands and the appeal process is at an end.

[RB: The background can be found in this item posted on this blog on 1 April 2021: Megrahi family to apply to UK Supreme Court for leave to appeal after Scottish court's refusal.

Now that all domestic remedies have been exhausted, the only judicial avenue now open for the Megrahi conviction to be challenged is an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

[What follows is excerpted from a report just published on the website of The Herald:]

In January last year, Megrahi’s son, Ali al-Megrahi, lost an appeal against his late father’s conviction.

The Supreme Court has ruled that permission to appeal against that decision should be refused, saying the “application does not raise an arguable point of law”.

Lawyer Aamer Anwar, representing the Megrahi family, insisted this was not the end of the matter as he would take the case back to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) and “continue to pursue an appeal”.

Mr Anwar said: “I spoke today to Ali, the son of the late al-Megrahi, and he said he was deeply disappointed in the decision of the UK Supreme Court.

“Ali told me he was eight years old when his father went to the Netherlands to stand trial. When his father returned to Libya to die, Ali spent most of his time next to his father and said that until his dying breath he maintained his innocence.

“The Megrahis regard their father as the 271st victim of Lockerbie.”

Megrahi was released from prison in Scotland in 2009 on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and died in Libya in 2012.

The Libyan had originally lodged an appeal against his conviction in 2007, but this was abandoned in 2009 before he was granted compassionate release.

Mr Anwar said: “Ali said as a son he will not give up on his father’s dying wish to clear his name and that of Libya, and has instructed myself as his family’s lawyer to continue with a further application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.”

In March 2020 the SCCRC referred Megrahi’s case to the High Court as a possible miscarriage of justice may have occurred.

However, in what was the third appeal against Megrahi’s conviction in November 2020, at the High Court in Edinburgh, a panel of five judges rejected the claim.

Mr Anwar said that after having spoken to Megrahi’s son “this is not the end of the matter” as the “reputation of the Scottish criminal justice system has suffered badly both at home and internationally because of widespread doubts about the conviction of Mr al-Megrahi”.

The lawyer said: “On December 21 1988, 270 people from 21 countries were murdered in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, the worst terrorist atrocity ever committed in the United Kingdom.

“Since then the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only man ever convicted of the crime, has been described as the worst miscarriage of justice in British legal history.

“For my legal team it has been eight long years but for the families we represent it has been 33 long years of struggle for truth and justice. Sadly that struggle is not over.”

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