RELATIVES of 20 British victims have launched third appeal to establish truth behind 1988 plane disaster which killed 270.
By Mark Aitken
THE families of Lockerbie bombing victims will launch a fresh appeal to overturn the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on the second anniversary of his death. The Libyan intelligence officer was the only man found guilty of blowing up Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people on December 21, 1988.
But campaigner Dr Jim Swire, whose 23-year-old daughter Flora was killed in the bombing, and other victims’ relatives believe he was innocent and will lodge an appeal against his conviction next month.
Jim said: “Megrahi became my friend after I realised that he had nothing to do with the murder of my daughter.
“I hope the appeal will succeed and, when it does, it means Megrahi’s family are no longer regarded as the family of the so-called Lockerbie bomber.
“The second thing is, I am getting older – I am 78 – and handing over the baton to lawyers will be a huge relief. There are a lot of legal people in Scotland who want to see this issue properly resolved.”
Jim says there are 20 UK-based Lockerbie families who are involved in the appeal and want the evidence that led to Megrahi’s conviction to be re-examined.
He added: “I have not approached US relatives because there is a fixed idea among nearly all of them that Megrahi was guilty because the court found him guilty. “They don’t appear to me to be interested in re-examination of evidence that led to his conviction. I think to ask them to join in this would be to invite vehement antagonism.”
Megrahi was released from Greenock prison by the Scottish Government in August 2009 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer and died protesting his innocence.
The relatives of 20 British victims will now lodge an appeal with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), who investigate alleged miscarriages of justice. It is the third time Megrahi’s conviction has been the subject of an appeal. After he received his life sentence in 2001, Megrahi appealed but it was thrown out by judges.
A second appeal saw the SCCRC refer the case back to the High Court, suggesting there “may have been a miscarriage of justice” and it was “in the interests of justice” to look at the case again.
But in 2009, Megrahi, by then suffering from terminal prostate cancer, dropped his second appeal to improve his chances of being allowed to go home to Libya to die. The third appeal by Lockerbie families in Britain could now be launched on or near the second anniversary of Megrahi’s death on May 20, 2012.
Last month, in a documentary shown on Al-Jazeera, a former high-ranking Iranian intelligence agent said Iran was responsible for the attack.
It was supposedly in revenge for the destruction in July 1988 of an Iranian plane mistakenly shot down by
USS Vincennes, killing 290 people.