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Wednesday, 2 May, 2001, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Lockerbie appeal extension granted
The wreckage of flight 103
The bombing happened in 1988 and killed 270 people
Lawyers acting for the Libyan man found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing have been granted a further six week extension to lodge the grounds for an appeal.

In January, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering 270 people in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988.

It was recommended he should serve at least twenty years.

The defence team has already been granted one extension in the appeal process.

Megrahi lodged notice of his intention to appeal against conviction in February.

Abdel Baset Ali Mohammed Al-Megrahi
Al Megrahi's: Extension granted
The full grounds for appeal should have been lodged within six weeks but Al Megrahi's legal team applied for an extension of six weeks which was granted in March.

That deadline expired on Wednesday and lawyers asked for a further extension which was also granted.

A statement from the Scottish Executive said: "On 1 May 2001, the appellant lodged an application for further time.

"The application for further time was granted by the High Court today. The period for lodging grounds of appeal has been extended by six weeks from 2 May 2001."

Sifting judge

Al Megrahi was jailed for life in January after being convicted by three Scottish judges at Camp Zeist in Holland of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.

If an appeal is granted it will be heard before five Scottish judges at Camp Zeist.

Once submitted to the High Court, the grounds of appeal remain confidential and no details would be disclosed.

In Scots law there is no legal right of appeal, so once the grounds have been formally lodged it is down to a 'sifting' judge to decide whether to allow a full hearing to go ahead before a panel of five judges.

Any full appeal hearing may well not go ahead before the end of 2001.

'Circumstantial case'

Alistair Bonnington, senior BBC Scotland lawyer and member of Glasgow University's Lockerbie trial briefing unit, said Al Megrahi's defence team could cite insufficient evidence as the grounds for appeal.

He said: "The broad grounds of appeal in Scotland are miscarriage of justice but I would imagine what they would be saying in this case is that there was insufficient evidence, it was a circumstantial case.

"What then happens is this goes to the appeal court but only if leave is granted.

"The appeal has to go before a single 'sifting' judge and that's in private, there's no hearing."

Mr Bonnington said if the judge refused leave to appeal, the lawyers would have to go before a full bench of three to five judges at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The defence have declined to comment on the application.


Full verdicts
Lockerbie opinion posted by Scots Court Service
Lockerbie megapuff graphic

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19 Mar 01 | In Depth
07 Feb 01 | In Depth
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