Timeline: Lockerbie bombing

Image source, AFP

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is the only man ever convicted of the worst terrorist attack in UK history. Eight years after his death, his family are still trying to get his conviction overturned.

More than three decades after the Lockerbie bombing an appeal has been again been referred to the High Court.

The case of Megrahi has been a complex one since the day he was indicted on 270 counts of murder in November 1991.

Ten years later he was found guilty of killing the people who died when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Megrahi, who always proclaimed his innocence, unsuccessfully appealed against his conviction. But he was subsequently allowed to return home after it emerged that he had terminal cancer.

21 December 1988

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The Pan Am flight was bombed just days before Christmas

Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York explodes 31,000 feet over Lockerbie, 38 minutes after take-off from London.

The 259 people on board the Boeing 747 are killed, along with 11 people on the ground.

13 November 1991

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah were accused of carrying out the bombing

US and British investigators indict Libyans Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah on 270 counts of murder, conspiracy to murder and violating Britain's 1982 Aviation Security Act.

The men were accused of being Libyan intelligence agents.

15 April 1992

The UN Security Council imposes sanctions on air travel and arms sales over Libya's refusal to hand the suspects over for trial in a Scottish court.

August 1998

Britain and the United States propose trying the suspects in the Netherlands under Scottish law.

5 April 1999

The suspects are taken into Dutch custody after flying from Tripoli to an airbase near the Hague and are formally charged with the bombing.

UN sanctions against Libya are suspended as agreed.

3 May 2000

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Image caption,
The Scottish court at Camp Zeist in Holland

The trial of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, 48, and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44, opens at Camp Zeist, a specially convened Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands.

31 January 2001

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Image caption,
Trial judges Lord Abernethy, Lord Coulsfield, Lord Sutherland and Lord MacLean

Megrahi is found guilty of murder after the historic trial under Scottish law in the Netherlands.

The judges recommend a minimum of 20 years "in view of the horrendous nature of this crime".

Megrahi's co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, is found not guilty and told he is free to return home.

14 March 2002

Megrahi loses his appeal against the conviction.

15 March 2002

Image caption,
HMP Barlinnie is in the north east of Glasgow

Megrahi spends his first night at a prison in Glasgow after being flown by helicopter to HMP Barlinnie.

14 August 2003

Lawyers acting for families of the Lockerbie bombing victims say they have reached agreement with Libya on the payment of compensation.

The deal to set up a $2.7bn (£1.7bn) fund was struck with Libyan officials after negotiations in London.

24 November 2003

Megrahi is told he must serve at least 27 years in jail.

His sentence was increased after a change in the law meant he had to again come before the Scottish courts so that the punishment period could be set.

28 June 2007

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which has been investigating the case since 2003, recommends Megrahi is granted a second appeal against his conviction.

21 October 2008

Megrahi's lawyer reveals the 56-year-old former Libyan intelligence agent has been diagnosed with "advanced stage" prostate cancer.

31 October 2008

Image caption,
Campaigners including Jim Swire continue to believe Megrahi is innocent

The father of one of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing reiterates his call for Megrahi to be released.

Jim Swire, whose daughter was killed, criticised the slow appeal process faced by the man convicted of the attack and said the question of whether Megrahi should be released was one of "common humanity".

14 November 2008

A court rules that Megrahi, will remain in jail while he appeals against his conviction.

21 December 2008

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Image caption,
Eleven people were killed on the ground in Lockerbie

Relatives of the 270 people killed in the Lockerbie bombing mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy.

25 July 2009

Megrahi asks to be released from jail on compassionate grounds due to his illness.

18 August 2009

Judges accept an application by the Lockerbie bomber to drop his second appeal against conviction.

The permission of the High Court in Edinburgh was required before the proceedings could be formally abandoned.

20 August 2009

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Image caption,
Megrahi was met on his return to Libya by Muammar Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam

The Scottish government releases Megrahi on compassionate grounds. He returns home to Libya aboard a jet belonging to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

24 August 2009

Image source, Getty Images

The Scottish Parliament is recalled to discuss the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill faces questioning from MSPs over his decision but says he stands by his decision and will "live with the consequences".

29 August 2011

Image source, CNN
Image caption,
Al-Megrahi was shown on CNN in what his family said was a "comatose" state

Megrahi falls into a coma at his Tripoli home with CNN reporting he appeared to be "at death's door".

20 October 2011

Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi is overthrown by an uprising in Libya, and is killed by rebels.

20 May 2012

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, seen in 1998

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi dies at his home in Tripoli, aged 60.

20 December 2014

Scotland's top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, reaffirms his belief that Megrahi is guilty of the Lockerbie bombing and says no Crown Office investigator or prosecutor ever raised concerns about the evidence used to convict him.

He also pledges to continue tracking down Megrahi's accomplices.

3 July 2015

Scottish judges rule that relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims should not be allowed to pursue an appeal on Megrahi's behalf. Courts had previously ruled that only next of kin could proceed with a posthumous application.

4 July 2017

The family of Lockerbie bomber Megrahi lodges a new bid to appeal against his conviction, five years after his death.

11 March 2020

The commission said it had considered six grounds of review and concluded that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred by reason of "unreasonable verdict" and "non-disclosure".