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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 14:04 GMT
Lockerbie evidence 'misunderstood'
Shred of clothing
A fragment of clothing wrapped round the bomb
The Lockerbie appeal has heard that the trial judges who convicted a Libyan man of the bombing misunderstood and misinterpreted crucial evidence.

The claim was made by the lead lawyer representing Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who was found guilty in January 2001 of murdering 270 people.

He was jailed for life with the minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Lawyers for the Libyan are attempting to overturn the verdict and are focussing during the second day of the appeal on legal precedents to support their case that there has been a miscarriage of justice.

Bill Taylor QC
Bill Taylor QC: Terse exchange
Click here for details of continuous live coverage of the appeal from BBC News Online.

Bill Taylor QC, for al-Megrahi, told the court on Thursday that new evidence had emerged in recent months that could "tear holes" in the trial judges' ruling.

A BBC correspondent at the court described the second day's proceedings as "pretty dry stuff".

In one exchange, defence lawyer Bill Taylor QC was quoting from previous cases when one of the five appeal judges, Lord Cullen, said: "I fail to see the relevance of that."

Mr Taylor replied tersely: "I'm coming to that."

Lord Cullen responded: "I can't wait."

Shopkeeper's evidence

Al-Megrahi's team has lodged a nine-page document with the court, setting out the grounds for the appeal.

Mr Taylor raised the evidence given by Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper who identified al-Megrahi as the man who bought clothes from his shop on 7 December 1988.

He pointed out that Mr Gauci only saw the Libyan once and 12 years went by before he gave evidence at the trial.

Baggage container
The rebuilt baggage container which held the bomb
Mr Taylor said that although Mr Gauci had been a credible witness and done his best to tell the truth, the question of how reliable he was, was a "different matter".

He said the trial judges had wrongly used evidence which showed al-Megrahi was staying in a hotel near Mr Gauci's shop at the time to infer that he was the buyer of the clothes.

The only other identification came when Mr Gauci pointed out al-Megrahi in court as being "similar" to the man who he had seen in his shop and when he was shown photographs of him taken from newspapers.

Mr Taylor pointed out that there was "considerable publicity" by that time connecting his client with the investigation into the bombing.

He also rebutted suggestions by the Crown that the question of what date al-Megrahi was in Malta was irrelevant to the issue of identification.

Bomb theory

Mr Taylor said on Wednesday he wanted to introduce new evidence relating to a security guard who says there was a break-in at a baggage area at Heathrow Airport on 21 December 1988, the day Pan Am Flight 103 took off for America.

The prosecution says 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 insists the case was more likely to have been placed on board the plane at Heathrow

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Shukman
"The defence said the trial had misunderstood the evidence of the shopkeeper"
BBC Scotland's Reevel Alderson
"The bench entered into the lighter side of things"
Lockerbie megapuff graphic

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23 Jan 02 | World
Appeal grounds at-a-glance
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