Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lockerbie Appeal : Families of victims split on Megrahi’s bid to challenge conviction

Relatives & family of the victims of those who died aboard Pan Am flight 103 which blew up as a result of a bomb, over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988 are unsurprisingly divided over the current appeal of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi against his conviction for the atrocity, which many feel was politically motivated.

The Scotsman reports :

Split among Lockerbie relatives as Megrahi bids to clear name

Published Date: 29 April 2009
Law Correspondent

VICTIMS' relatives at the long-awaited opening of the Lockerbie bomber's second appeal were divided on whether he should be freed or ordered to continue serving a life sentence.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, 57, is suffering from prostate cancer and was not in the dock at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh yesterday. His condition in Greenock prison is said to have deteriorated.

His lawyer argued that Megrahi's conviction had been a miscarriage of justice, and the claim found support from Jim Swire, whose daughter, Flora, was among the 270 victims.

"I think the real perpetrator was Iran, which paid money to a Syrian group to introduce one of its devices at Heathrow on the day of the disaster," he said. "I think this appeal will lead to the overthrowing of the verdict."

The Rev John Mosey, who lost his daughter Helga in the bombing, said:

"I am here hoping to hear whatever new evidence there is about how our daughter was murdered 20 years ago.

"I am hoping nothing will prevent that coming into the public domain. Having sat through the trial, I came away with the profound impression that this man was not guilty or, even if he is, the evidence led in that court did not show him to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt."

Asked about Megrahi's medical condition, he said: "Of course, I have sympathy for him. He is a fellow human being whether he killed my daughter or not."

Strikingly contrasting views were given by Jack and Kathleen Flynn, of New Jersey in the United States, whose son, John Patrick, died in the explosion.

Mr Flynn said: "Justice would be Mr Megrahi to serve his term. I went to the trial every day either at Kamp Zeist or to the closed circuit television link in New York. I saw all the evidence. I noted it and discussed it with attorneys and everybody agreed he was guilty. Yes, he was the right man. Yes, he did it."

There had been speculation Megrahi might abandon his appeal, which would be necessary if he were to attempt to use a new prisoner-transfer treaty between Libya and the United Kingdom to serve the rest of his sentence at home. He has completed ten years of a minimum term of 27 years.

It is almost two years since the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission sent the case for a rehearing by the appeal court on the ground that it believed a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.

Megrahi had been convicted in 2001 by a three-judge bench at a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands, and five judges rejected a first appeal in 2002.

While new evidence could feature in later parts of the second appeal, the current hearing, expected to last four weeks, is to examine the evidence led at the trial and to see whether the guilty verdict was reasonable.

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