Monday, April 27, 2009

Lockerbie Appeal : Megrahi may clear his name claims victims father

Dr Jim Swire, father of one of the victims of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988 has spoken of his views that the latest appeal by Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi against his conviction over the destruction of the airliner, may well result in the Libyan clearing his name.

The Scotsman reports :

Lockerbie bomber will clear his name, says victim's father

Published Date: 27 April 2009
By michael howie and john robertson

THE father of a young woman killed in the Lockerbie bombing last night predicted a fresh appeal by the Libyan convicted of the atrocity will clear his name.

Dr Jim Swire, whose 24-year-old daughter, Flora, was among 270 people killed when Pan Am flight 103 was blown up over the town on 21 December, 1988, believes material to be brought before the hearing – due to start tomorrow – will overturn the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.

Mr Swire told The Scotsman: "My knowledge of what is going on, which is far from complete, looks to me as though the prosecution case could not withstand the new evidence and different emphasis that could be applied to old evidence."

Megrahi, 57, who was diagnosed with cancer last year, has just completed ten years in custody for the bombing and it could be nearer 11 years before the appeal is fully determined.

It is almost two years since the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission decided there were grounds for believing Megrahi's conviction might be a miscarriage of justice.

Preliminary disputes, over such issues as public interest immunity and the scope of the appeal, have dogged attempts to arrange an early hearing for the case in the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.

The first hearing, which is scheduled to last four weeks, will concentrate on an area for which preparatory work has been completed – that the guilty verdict returned against Megrahi at his trial was not supported by the evidence – and, were the plea to succeed, it would be enough for the conviction to be overturned and for Megrahi to be freed.

However, some observers believe this part of the appeal is far from Megrahi's strongest argument, and that other areas will require to be pursued, explaining why work is continuing.

A source said: "Three judges at the trial decided there was enough evidence to convict Megrahi and five judges said the same thing at his first appeal. That's a pretty high hurdle to overcome, and while there's nothing to be lost in having another go, you can't imagine five different judges this time being easily persuaded.

"So, in theory, Megrahi could win this first point and be on his way back to Libya by the end of the summer, but it seems much more likely that the other grounds of appeal will have to be heard, and that will take us months further down the line, to have them heard and for the judges to go away and think about them and then announce their decision."

Megrahi will not attend the hearing, but will follow the proceedings by a closed circuit television link between the court and Greenock Prison.

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