Further hearing for Lockerbie relatives’ appeal bid
27 March 2015
A judge has called for a further hearing to decide if a new appeal can be heard in the Lockerbie bombing case.
Relatives of some of the victims of the atrocity want to pursue the appeal on behalf of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of it.
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) asked the appeal court to rule on whether it could continue investigating.
It wants a ruling on whether the relatives have “a legitimate interest”.
Since June 2014, the SCCRC has been considering a joint application from members of the family of Megrahi, the Libyan secret service agent who was convicted of the murders of 270 people in the 1988 bombing.
The application was jointly lodged by the Justice for Megrahi campaign group, which includes relatives of British victims of the bombing, in an attempt to review his January 2001 conviction.
The relatives, led by Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the explosion over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, believe the Libyan was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and said his conviction should be overturned.
SCCRC has asked the High Court for guidance on whether it can take forward such an appeal on the convicted man’s behalf.
It had earlier said, despite repeated requests, members of Megrahi’s family had failed to provide appropriate evidence supporting their involvement in the application.
It concluded the application was being actively supported only by the members of the victims’ families.
A brief procedural hearing took place in Edinburgh before judge Lady Dorrian to examine the SCCRC’s petition.
She ordered a further hearing to take place, likely to last a day, for all the issues surrounding the commission’s request to be aired.
It is expected to take place later in the year.
Previous court decisions have meant only the executor of a dead person’s estate or their next of kin could proceed with such a posthumous application.
The SCCRC has asked the court to determine if victims’ families can be classed as a “person with a legitimate interest to pursue an appeal”.
Dr Swire and other victims’ relatives were among those at court.
They have called for the SCCRC’s petition for guidance to be dismissed, claiming it is “incompetent” in law.
After the hearing, Aamer Anwar, the Megrahi family solicitor, said:
“Relatives of the Lockerbie victims instructing my firm maintain that they have a legitimate interest in pursuing an appeal and they will continue to seek the truth but as proceedings are live, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
SCCRC has already investigated the Lockerbie bombing, sending the case back to the Appeal Court in June 2007 after a four-year investigation.
But Megrahi, who was convicted after a trial at Kamp van Zeist in the Netherlands, abandoned the case two years later.
Shortly afterwards he was sent home to Libya on compassionate grounds, suffering from inoperable prostate cancer. He died in 2012.