Monday, April 27, 2009

Lockerbie : Megrahi Begins Appeal

It's nearly two years since the SCCRC gave it's recommendation that the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988, be referred to appeal. Tomorrow, in Edinburgh, his second appeal finally begins. In the interim period, Megrahi 57, has been diagnosed with cancer which is believed to be in an advanced stage.

During the prolonged period since the SCCRC's determination that Megrahi may have "suffered a miscarriage of justice" at the original trial, the prosecution team have been successful in their methods to, what can only be termed, obstinate in the releasing of evidence known to them for many years but never revealed to the defence lawyers. The state and crown, represented by the Secretary of State, David Miliband, raised a PII in order to stop disclosure of these documents and evidence.

The Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) signed by the British and Libyan governments in 2007 has also cast an unnecessary cloud over the proceedings with respect to the appeal, while coming so soon after the SCCRC's decision merely added to the uncertainty and cynicism as to the true motives and intentions of the agreement. It is thought the appeal could take as long as a year to complete. How the actual appeal progresses, the speed and the manner with which the Scottish judiciary is seen to support fairness, truth and justice, from both legal teams, will surely determine if any attempt to enact the agreement is made. Clearly, notwithstanding Megrahi's health implications during the appeal.

Today's Guardian newspaper in London reports that the appeal lawyers for Megrahi will initially focus on the evidence provided by Tony Gauci at the original trial in Zeist, Holland in 2001. Despite the Judges admissions during the first trial that there were significant inconsistencies in Mr Gauci's detailing and recollection of the events surrounding a purchaser of clothes (claimed to be Megrahi) from his shop in Malta, his testimony proved a crucial factor in the determination that Megrahi was guilty of the bombing of flight 103.

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