South Scotland

Lockerbie bombing: Campaign to clear Megrahi 'disgraceful'

Lockerbie wreckage Image copyright AP
Image caption 270 people died in the atrocity in the south of Scotland in December 1988

US families of Lockerbie bombing victims have accused some UK relatives of a "disgraceful" campaign to clear the only man convicted of the atrocity.

Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora, and some other UK relatives believe Abdelbaset al-Megrahi suffered a miscarriage of justice.

They want the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to send his case back to the High Court for a fresh appeal.

US relatives have written a letter saying they do not support the move.

The Libyan agent was jailed in 2001 for murdering the 270 people who died when Pan AM flight 103 exploded over southern Scotland on 21 December 1988.

He dropped a second appeal against his conviction days before the Scottish government released him on compassionate grounds in August 2009.

Megrahi died from cancer three years later.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Families of some UK victims want a fresh appeal to be heard into Megrahi's conviction

A posthumous appeal is possible if it is deemed to serve the "interests of justice" and is sought by someone with a "legitimate interest" in the case.

Dr Swire's application was made jointly with members of Megrahi's family, including someone named as the executor of his estate.

The Megrahi family would be expected to qualify to request an appeal.

The SCCRC was proceeding on that basis but became convinced that the application was only "actively supported" by victims' families.

Never before has a murder conviction been appealed in these circumstances.

In December, the commission asked the High Court to decide if Dr Swire and other UK relatives had a "legitimate interest" to pursue the case.

The judge, Lady Dorrian, has asked interested parties to make submissions to the court before the matter is considered at a hearing in March.

It is not clear if US relatives will make legal representations but their letter to the SCCRC sets out their opposition to a fresh appeal.

Image caption Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is the only person to have been convicted since the bombing

"We do not support this petition," they say.

"Nor do we support the position of the UK family member, Dr Jim Swire and those with whom he stands on this matter.

"It is past time for Dr Swire and the Megrahi supporters to end their disgraceful and expensive campaign".

The letter is signed by the chairman of Victims of Pan AM flight 103, Mary Kay Stratis, whose husband Elia died in the bombing.

Dr Swire has long believed that Megrahi was wrongfully convicted of the bombing and that Libya was not behind the plot.

A spokesperson for the SCCRC said it had been made aware of the US families letter by the Crown Office, which oversees prosecutions in Scotland.

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