Lockerbie bomber case sent for appeal in Scotland

Family of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi claim that he was not responsible for the deaths of 270 people

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 20, 2009 Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, the only person convicted for downing a US passenger jet that killed 270 people over Lockerbie, holds his release papers as he boards an aircraft at Glasgow airport in Scotland, to fly home to Libya to die, after his release on compassionate grounds. A Scottish body responsible for investigating possible miscarriages of justices said on Wednesday, march 11, it had referred the case of a man jailed for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing for appeal, allowing the family of the late Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi to appeal the conviction in court.
 / AFP / POOL / DANNY LAWSON
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The conviction of the only man found guilty of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 above the Scottish town of Lockerbie will go to appeal after investigators concluded that the former Libyan intelligence agent was denied a fair trial.

A Scottish law body said there were grounds for a “potential miscarriage” of justice against Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi who was convicted in 2001 of the attack which left 270 dead.

The three Scottish judges had found that Al Megrahi was responsible for packing a bomb inside a radio-cassette player that was hidden inside a suitcase and loaded on to the aircraft.

The bomb exploded during the London to New York flight of PA 103 killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew on board and 11 people on the ground.

The family of the late Al Megrahi, backed by some of the relatives of those killed, had campaigned against the conviction.

His lawyers said the attack could have been carried out by Iran in retaliation for the downing of an Iranian passenger jet by a US warship in 1988.

A 419-page review report found that new information still pointed towards “Libya, and Mr Megrahi as an operative in 1988 for that state, as being the culprits in the bombing of PA 103,” the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission said in a statement.

But it said the failure of prosecutors to disclose that the US government had paid a key witness and questions over the identity of Al Megrahi as the man who bought items packed inside the suitcase that contained the bomb meant the case should go to appeal.

It rejected four of the six grounds for review of the case. The commission had previously referred the case of Al Megrahi for an appeal in 2007 but the Libyan abandoned his legal claim just days before his release from prison was approved on compassionate grounds in 2009.

Al Megrahi, who had been found guilty of mass murder and jailed for life, returned to Libya where he died in May 2012 while still protesting his innocence.

His family's lawyer Aamer Anwar said if the verdict was reversed it would show that the US and UK "lived a lie" for 31 years.

“A reversal of the verdict would mean US & UK lived a lie for 31 years, imprisoning a man they knew to be innocent & punishing the Libyan people for a crime which they did not commit,” he said in a tweet.

Col Muammar Qadddafi struck a deal with the US in 2008 and agreed to hand over $1.5 billion to the US victims of the bombing. The agreement came as relations improved between the two countries after Qaddafi renounced terrorism.