A Scottish court rejected on Friday an appeal to overturn the conviction of a now-deceased Libyan man found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing which killed 270 people.
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 in the deadliest militant attack in British history.
“The bombing of Pan Am 103 is, to this day, the deadliest terrorist attack on UK soil and the largest homicide case Scotland’s prosecutors have ever encountered in terms of scale and of complexity,” said Lord Advocate James Wolffe, Scotland’s chief legal officer.
“The evidence gathered by Scottish, U.S. and international law enforcement agencies has again been tested in the Appeal Court and the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi stands.”
In March, an independent Scottish review ruled that his family could launch a third appeal due to a possible miscarriage of justice. But on Friday, five judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Scotland rejected that.
ArabNews reports that the case came back to court in November last year after an independent criminal case review body said a possible miscarriage of justice may have occurred on the grounds of “unreasonable verdict” and non-disclosure of evidence. But the judges rejected both grounds of appeal.
“The appeal against conviction is refused,” they said in a 64-page ruling.
Central to his family’s case was the testimony of Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper, who identified Megrahi as the man who bought clothes found in the suitcase that contained the bomb.
Lawyers argued his eye-witness evidence should have been discounted and was “highly prejudicial” because he had earlier seen a photograph of Megrahi as a suspect in a newspaper.
They said Gauci was motivated by reward money, that there was no proof Megrahi bought the clothing, and that dates of his supposed visit to Malta did not fit the timeline. The suitcase was loaded onto a plane from Malta to Germany, then transferred to the ill-fated flight that left London Heathrow bound for New York. The government’s case was that Megrahi used a false passport to travel to the Mediterranean island, and that Gauci did not receive any remuneration.
Megrahi’s son Ali said the family were heartbroken and planned to appeal to the UK Supreme Court, their lawyer Aamer Anwar said. “He maintained his father’s innocence and is determined to fulfil the promise he made to clear his name and that of Libya,” Anwar said.
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.
After years of wrangling and sanctions against Libya, Megrahi and a second man Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima went on trial before Scottish judges at a special court in the Netherlands.
Megrahi was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum 27 years, while Fahima was found not guilty.
via Reuters /Arab News