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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 18:13 GMT
BBC to televise Lockerbie appeal
The BBC has been granted permission to televise the appeal of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi.

The decision by the Lord Justice General, Lord Cullen, to televise the appeal - and stream it on the internet in English with a simultaneous Arabic translation - is a milestone in Scottish legal history.

It is the first time permission has been granted to televise any Scottish appeal court proceedings.

Abdel Baset Ali Mohammed Al-Megrahi
Megrahi was convicted in January 2001
A spokesman for the High Court Of Justiciary said: "The Lord Justice General, application having been made, today granted authority to the BBC to televise the appeal of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands."

Authority will be subject to a protocol which has been drawn up to ensure broadcasters follow the strict guidance established by the Scottish Court.

There will be a number of restrictions placed on broadcasters including a ban on the televising of any evidence taken from witnesses during the appeal hearing.

It is is scheduled to begin in the Scottish Court in the Netherlands at Kamp van Zeist on 23 January.

Megrahi was convicted in January 2001 of murdering 270 people in the bombing of the airliner Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988.

We have always taken the view that this is a very interesting and important case

Blair Jenkins, Head of News, BBC Scotland
However, not long after Megrahi was jailed for life, his defence team announced their intention to appeal.

The Libyan lawyer leading the defence team, Dr Ibrahim Legwell, has expressed confidence that the five judges hearing the appeal will overturn the conviction.

Last August, he announced that leading English barrister Michael Mansfield QC and American human rights lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, had joined the team.

Another six lawyers are believed to be involved in the attempt to gain Megrahi's freedom.

'Closed circuit system'

BBC Scotland's Home Affairs Correspondent, Reevel Alderson, said: "There will be a ban on televising any new evidence brought before the court.

"Pictures will be provided from the court's own closed circuit system which was used to show the trial to victims' relatives at four sites in Britain the United States last year.

"Proceedings will be streamed live on the internet both in English and with the simultaneous Arabic translation already available in the court."

Scottish judges
Five judges will hear the appeal
Blair Jenkins, BBC Scotland's Head of News and Current Affairs, said: "We are abosutely delighted that the court has given us permission to broadcast the proceedings in the appeal in the Lockerbie case.

"We have always taken the view that this is a very interesting and important case not just in Scotland but also internationally and we will be broadcasting the proceedings live on the internet.

"We will also be providing edited reports for all of our news programmes and we think there will be a terrific amount of interest in that."

Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the bombing, said the decision would be of particular benefit to US relatives of victims.

Dr Swire, a spokesman for UK Families Flight 103, said many relatives would be anxious about flying to Camp Zeist after the 11 September terror attacks on the US.

Unique trial

He said: "It will give them a way to keep in touch with what is going on and that is good news."

Two years ago, judges at the High Court in Edinburgh rejected an application from BBC Scotland, and supported by eight other broadcasters, to screen the trial.

The corporation claimed that the unique nature of the trial, which took place without a jury, meant it should be broadcast to the public.

However, the Crown argued that televising the trial could compromise the safety of witnesses and discourage some from attending.

Lawyers for Megrahi and his then co-accused Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah also contested the BBC's application.

The BBC's Reevel Alderson
"The BBC lobbied hard for the authority to provide live pictures of the appeal"

The full Lockerbie opinion on the Scottish Court Service websiteFull verdicts
Lockerbie opinion posted by Scots Court Service
Lockerbie megapuff graphic


Key stories


The trial
See also:

09 Jan 02 | Scotland
Lockerbie appeal to be screened
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