Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lord Hamilton - Secret Lockerbie documents must be handed over

Lord Hamilton rules the 'secret documents' in the Lockerbie case appeal must be handed over to be viewed by three judges in " closed session".

BBC News reports :

Lockerbie document handover order

The Lord Justice General has ordered the handover of secret documents linked to the Lockerbie bombing to be viewed by three judges in "closed session".

Lord Hamilton said the papers should be produced to the court within seven days subject to appropriate security.

Judges will then hear the objections to the documents being handed to lawyers for Abdelbasset Ali al-Megrahi.

Agreement has not been reached as to how the man convicted of the bombing should be represented at proceedings.

The decision came at the end of a three-day procedural hearing at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh.

It is preparing the way for Al Megrahi's second appeal against his conviction for the 1988 atrocity.

The UK Government has argued that handing over the documents is not in the national interest.

However, lawyers for Al Megrahi have said it could be important in his appeal.

Lord Hamilton said judges would take a "stage by stage, pragmatic approach" to the issue but made some orders immediately.

The first was that the advocate general should produce copies of the document in question to the court.


"That should be done, subject to appropriate security arrangements being in place, within seven days," he said.

Three judges in "closed session" will then hear the objections to the handover of the documents.

Lord Hamilton said that hearing would not deal with the question of whether the Crown had any obligation to show the document to Al Megrahi's lawyers.

He added that proposals for a security-vetted advocate to represent the Libyan would be studied in due course.

"Once we have examined the documents further decisions in this matter will be given by the court," he said.

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