Lockerbie bombing appeal dropped

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Lockerbie memorial

The High Court in Edinburgh has today accepted Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi's request to drop his second appeal against his conviction for the Lockerbie bombing. Al-Megrahi was found guilty of planting a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103, which detonated as the aircraft flew over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 killing all 259 people on board and eleven more on the ground.

Megrahi has always protested his innocence. Although his appeal was dismissed in 2002, a review found evidence of a possible miscarriage of justice and granted Megrahi a second appeal. He is terminally ill with prostate cancer and may soon be released on compassionate grounds. Today's hearing was attended by the Reverend John Mosey, whose daughter was killed and who believes in Megrahi's innocence.

The conviction remains controversial, with the majority of victims' families in the UK feeling Megrahi is innocent while those in the US believe him to be guilty according to the Daily Telegraph. Doctor Jim Swire, a member of UK Families Flight 103, has threatened to sue the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service over what he feels is a deliberate blocking of justice. Meanwhile, in an earlier interview with Wikinews on the twentieth anniversary of the bombing last year, the then-head of the US group Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Kara Weipz, told Wikinews that "There is no difference between the truth as we see it and the official version of events. The facts are the facts, Mr. Megrahi is guilty."

Wikinews has obtained a statement from Mrs. Weipz's replacement Frank Duggan. In it Duggan maintains that Megrahi should die behind bars in Scotland, casts doubt on the likelihood of a transfer to Libya and attacks the Scottish media's coverage of the case. Dr. Swire has also been contacted with a request to comment.

"The murderer appealed again, and now seeks, without apparent reason, to withdraw that appeal. The court had little discretion, and absent some grandstanding from the bomber’s attorneys, it is certainly not what the Scottish media is making it out to be. It is NOT the key to Mr. Megrahi's release pursuant to the Prisoner Transfer Agreement, since Article 5 of that agreement states that there cannot be any pending legal action against him. There is, as everyone should know, another appeal pending, which was originally filed before Megrahahi's, objecting to the lenience of the sentence for the murder of 270 innocent souls. In addition, Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill must still rule on the request for transfer, a request made by [Libyan President] Muammar Gadhafi, who has admitted his nation’s guilt in the most egregious case of state-sponsored terrorism in UK history. It is simply inconceivable to us that the Scottish government would respect the wishes of this man.

"The American victim’s families cannot understand why Megrahi would withdraw his appeal, unless his attorneys thought that they were not persuading Minister MacAskill that the bomber was indeed on his deathbed. That is a more likely scenario since they had been saying he had one foot in the grave for the past year. If the rumors of his impending release, fueled by the Herald, Guardian, Scotsman and other “newspapers” were meant to test public opinion about his release, either by Prisoner Transfer or Compassionate Release, then the trial balloon was successful. There has been worldwide outrage and opprobrium that this man might get to go home to a hero’s welcome in Libya.

"The only other reason we can imagine is that his attorneys were not aware of the other pending appeal, and are perhaps taking advice from that legal scholar, Prof. Robert Black, who still maintains that there was insufficient evidence in the first trial and appeal. Black has been wrong about every step of this case from the beginning, yet he and Dr. James Swire are given full opportunity to express their views of the evidence in the UK “newspapers.”

"The convicted bomber should not be transferred under any subsequent agreement since the arrangements for the trial in the Netherlands promised that if convicted, the defendant would serve his prison term in Scotland. As to the application for release on compassionate grounds, this has caused the most uproar around the world. News media, not so many in Scotland I regret to say, wonder just how much compassion was shown by Megrahi and Libya when they planted a bomb designed to murder hundreds of innocent, unsuspecting lives."

Megrahi is now set to complete his sentence in HMP Greenock, where he is to serve a minimum of 27 years, barring any further developments.

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

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