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Thursday, 23 August, 2001, 19:31 GMT 20:31 UK
Lockerbie appeal gets green light
Camp Zeist court
The appeal will be heard in The Netherlands
The Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi has been granted formal leave to appeal his conviction.

A spokesman for the Crown Office in Scotland said a preliminary hearing will take place in October at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.

Al Megrahi was jailed for life in January this year for his part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

The plane exploded over Lockerbie in December 1988, leading to the death of 270 people.

Abdel Baset Ali Mohammed Al-Megrahi
The Libyan was convicted in January

His co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fahima, was found not guilty by three judges at a specially convened Scottish court in the Netherlands.

Libyan Al Megrahi, 49, lodged notice of his intention to appeal against conviction in February, and his legal advisers lodged the full grounds for the appeal several months ago.

A judge sitting alone made the decision that the appeal should go ahead.

The grounds for the appeal are not being made public, but Al Megrahi's defence team is likely to challenge evidence which came from Tony Gauci.

The Maltese shopkeeper identified Al Megrahi as a man who bought clothing from his store shortly before the bombing.

Remnants of that clothing were found scattered around Lockerbie after the bombing and there was evidence the clothes were packed around the bomb which blew up the aircraft.

Al Amin Khalifa Fahima
Al Amin Khalifa Fahima was found not guilty

However, during the trial Mr Gauci's evidence was questioned and the defence is expected to question whether the trial judges were entitled to decide that Al Megrahi was the man who bought the clothes.

Al Megrahi's lead defence lawyer, speaking earlier this month, said he was confident the Libyan would soon be freed.

Dr Ibrahim Legwell, himself a Libyan, spoke out as it revealed that two top international legal experts had joined the appeal team.

English barrister Michael Mansfield QC and US human rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz are both involved in the fight to free Al Megrahi.

Other lawyers drafted onto the appeal team include Clive Nicholls QC, who represented the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet during extradition hearings at the High Court in London last year.

Cockpit scene
The bombing claimed 270 lives

High profile American lawyer Frank Rubino has also been recruited.

Dr Legwell said he would consult the international legal team for further advice before passing it on to "our Scottish defence team so they can adapt it to Scots law".

Under Scottish law the only grounds for an appeal are new evidence or that there has been a miscarriage of justice.

The appeal, which will be heard at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands like the original case, will be put before five judges who have not yet been named.

It is thought the appeal will take far less time than the trial because it will focus only on the grounds put forward by the defence team and the response of the prosecution.

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


Appeal concludes

Key stories


The trial
See also:

29 Jun 01 | In Depth
02 May 01 | In Depth
19 Mar 01 | In Depth
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