BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 10:40 GMT
Lockerbie appeal begins
Scottish Court at Camp Zeist
The appeal is at the Scottish Court at Camp Zeist
Five senior Scottish judges have begun hearing an appeal by the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was found guilty in January 2001 of bombing Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie and killing 270 people.

Lawyers for al-Megrahi told the appeal judges that fresh evidence has emerged which casts doubt on the guilt of the Libyan.

The Crown is contesting the appeal move claiming the new evidence is not materially important to the case.

In a Scottish legal first, the appeal, which is being heard at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, is being broadcast live on television and on the internet.

Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi
Al Megrahi is appealing against his conviction

Al-Megrahi's co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, a former station manager for Libyan Arab Airlines, was acquitted at the end of the original trial after the judges ruled there was no evidence he had helped plant the bomb.

An appeal against conviction was lodged by al-Megrahi in June 2001.

He had been sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in jail after a nine-month trial in a specially convened Scottish court at Camp Zeist.

A panel of five judges, headed by Lord Cullen, the Lord Justice General, was selected last week to hear the appeal.

New evidence

Lawyers for al-Megrahi told the judges they planned to produce fresh evidence at the hearing.

William Taylor QC said one of al-Megrahi's grounds of appeal would be "an application to the court to receive fresh evidence and then the hearing of that evidence, if your lordships are of a mind to permit that evidence to be heard".

Alan Turnbull QC, for the Crown, argued that the evidence was not sufficient to justify being heard in the appeal.

Mr Taylor said that with the exception of the new evidence, the grounds of appeal constituted criticisms of the findings of the judges in their 82-page opinion, which was issued at the end of the original trial.

He said he intended to show that the three judges had effectively misdirected themselves as jurors and led to a miscarriage of justice.

Lockerbie Boeing 747 PAN AM flight 103 wreckage
270 people were killed in the bombing

Mr Taylor said he would argue that the verdict reached by the original court was not one that a reasonable jury in an ordinary trial could have reached if it was given proper directions by the judge.

According to the prosecution's version of events, which was accepted by the three judges in the trial, the suitcase carrying the bomb which blew up the plane was loaded onto a plane in Malta.

From there it was transported via Frankfurt to Heathrow, where it was loaded onto Pan Am flight 103.

Al Megrahi's defence team has always insisted the bomb suitcase was more likely to have been placed on board the plane at Heathrow and wants to introduce new evidence to support that claim.

It wants to hear fresh testimony from Heathrow security guard Ray Manly who has claimed there was a break-in at the baggage build up area at Heathrow airport on December 21 1988, the same day Pan Am flight 103 took off from there bound for America.

Reliability of evidence

The defence will also launch a fresh attack on the evidence of Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper who identified al-Megrahi as a man who had bought clothing at his store a few weeks before the bombing.

Shreds of the same clothing were found scattered around Lockerbie as the debris of the plane was recovered and evidence was produced to indicate it had been packed around the bomb.

Defence lawyers in the trial questioned the reliability of Mr Gauci's evidence and the panel of judges admitted he had not made an "absolutely positive" identification of al-Megrahi either in court or from photographs.

The defence team issued a nine-page submission at the start of the hearing detailing their grounds for appeal.

The appeal hearing has made legal history as its opening scenes were shown live on television and the internet.

TV footage will also be used in news bulletins, although broadcasters will be subject to a number of restrictions, including a ban on televising evidence from witnesses.

BBC News Online is providing live video coverage of the appeal.

The BBC's David Shukman at Camp Zeist
"Al Megrahi's lawyers will argue there has been a miscarriage of justice"
Lockerbie victim's mother Rosemary Wolf
"I'm expecting the verdict will not be reversed"
Defence lawyer Ibrahim Legwell
"We feel justice will prevail"
The BBC's Steve Kingstone
"It's possible we could hear a completely different account of what happened"
Lockerbie megapuff graphic


Key stories


The trial

Click here to access links to live coverage of the Lockerbie appeal
Lockerbie appeal live

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories