Scotland agrees to appeal of Libyan 'guilty' of Lockerbie bombing

Court decision paves way for posthumous appeal for Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who died in 2012 after denying involvement.

The conviction of the only man found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie aircraft bombing has been referred for an appeal to Scotland’s High Court of Justiciary.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission said on Wednesday the family of Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who died in 2012, could instruct an appeal over his conviction for the attack on Pam Am flight 103, which was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988 en route from London to New York.

Al-Megrahi, who denied being involved, died in Libya in 2012 after being released three years earlier by Scotland’s government on compassionate grounds following a diagnosis of terminal cancer.

He first appealed his conviction in 2002 but this was refused by Scotland’s High Court.

The following year he appealed to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and the case was referred to the High Court for a second appeal in 2007. However, he abandoned this in 2009.

In 2018, the commission said it would conduct a full review of the conviction to decide whether to refer the case for a fresh appeal. Its main findings were made public on Wednesday.

In 2003, former Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi accepted his country’s responsibility for the bombing and paid compensation to the victims’ families, but did not admit to personally ordering the attack.

Scotland’s top prosecutor said in 2014 that no evidence had emerged to cast doubt on the conviction.

However, his family and some relatives of the Scottish victims have doubted his guilt.

Most of the victims of the explosion over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in Scotland were Americans on their way home for Christmas. Eleven people died on the ground as the New York-bound jet crashed when a bomb exploded in its hold some 40 minutes after leaving London’s Heathrow airport.

“This is a major development,” said Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba, reporting from London. “In the last few years, his legal team have been calling for it to be opened up again.”

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