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Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 20:01 GMT
Making history at Camp Zeist
Scottish Court at Camp Zeist
The appeal hearing is under way
BBC Radio 5 Live's James Shaw reports from Camp Zeist as the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing begins his appeal.

Wet leaves blow across the paved area in front of the Scottish Court in the Netherlands.

Cameras and journalists wait for the arrival of the lawyers and the victims' families.

Relatives of Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the man found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing, hold up a placard which reads: "We sympathise with the families of the victims and feel their pain. We pray for justice to reveal the truth."

The Lockerbie case is back at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands and it feels like it never went away.


Apart from the splendid appearance of the five judges in their wigs and ermine-trimmed red robes, there is little sense that this is an historic occasion

James Shaw
It took nine months for the trial to plough its way through hundreds of witnesses, legal papers and frequent adjournments.

Almost exactly one year on, the appeal has begun. It will mostly be taken up with legal argument and could stretch on for up to six weeks.

In the courtroom, history is made as this hearing becomes the first UK case to be available for live broadcast on television, radio and the internet.

But the opinion of some observers on the interest value of the process is brutal, with one suggesting it would be "like watching paint dry".

And apart from the splendid appearance of the five judges in their wigs and ermine-trimmed red robes, there is little sense that this is an historic occasion.

Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi
Al Megrahi is appealing against his conviction
As the court adjourns for lunch, subtle differences from the trial start to become apparent.

In one corner of the court tea bar there is a cluster of Arab lawyers.

In another, the pinstriped suits and ample waistlines of the Edinburgh legal establishment.

There do seem to be more lawyers here than during the course of the trial itself.

And there is no doubt that the Libyan defence team have sought opinions from around the world about al-Megrahi's conviction.

They have, among others, spoken to Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor famous for a string of high-profile acquittals. The English lawyer Michael Mansfield QC, who defended the man found guilty of murdering Jill Dando, is at Camp Zeist.

Open to scrutiny

He questions whether the evidence which convicted al-Megrahi would have achieved the same result in an English court.

The presence of so many lawyers and the unprecedented media access to the hearing may mean that this appeal will open the Scottish legal system to even more scrutiny than the trial itself.

Meanwhile, Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi returns to his purpose-built jail cell for another night, perhaps believing he will be back in Libya within a matter of weeks.

If not there could be an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and then to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The Lockerbie process is not over yet. Not by a long way.

Lockerbie megapuff graphic

AUDIO VIDEO

Appeal concludes

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The trial
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