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BBC's Home Affairs correspondent Reevel Alderson
"The BBC regards this court bid as very, very important"
 real 28k

Monday, 14 February, 2000, 18:27 GMT
Court bid to televise Lockerbie trial

Lockerbie crash The Lockerbie bombing happened in December 1988

BBC Scotland has lodged a petition at the High Court in Edinburgh seeking permission to televise the Lockerbie trial.

The broadcaster, which is likely to win support from other TV companies, says "justice must be seen to be done".

The BBC believes that because the trial is to be held outside Scotland, televising it would be in the best interests of justice.

For justice to be done, it has to be seen to be done and we believe televising the trial is the best means of doing so
Alistair Bonnington, BBC Scotland solicitor
On Monday, BBC Scotland lodged papers with a court official called the nobile officium, as part of its bid to be allowed to broadcast the trial of the two Libyans accused of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

The papers will then be served on the Lord Advocate and the two accused and a hearing will then be fixed.

The procedure is an ancient one, allowing any Scot to bring a matter of public interest before the courts.

The judge who is to preside over the trial of the two men accused of the bombing has already ruled that the proceedings can be broadcast to relatives of the 270 people who died.

TV link for relatives

Lord Sutherland had agreed to let the proceedings be relayed from the specially-built court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands to families watching in London, Washington, New York, and the nearest town to Lockerbie, Dumfries.

Other broadcasters such as the American networks ABC, CBS and CNN are likely to support the BBC's application.

BBC Scotland solicitor Alistair Bonnington said: "The Lockerbie trial is a unique case in that it will be held outside Scotland under Scots law and will not have a jury.

Lord Sutherland Lord Sutherland: Trial judge
"Encrypted TV pictures are being allowed and the trial is of huge public interest.

"For justice to be done, it has to be seen to be done and we believe televising the trial is the best means of doing so."

The two Libyans - Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 47, and Al Ami Khalifa Fhimah, 43 - are to go on trial charged with blowing up a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, in Scotland.

The Netherlands camp will be deemed Scottish territory for the duration of the trial, which is due to begin on 3 May.

Defence lawyers for the pair have registered not guilty pleas for their clients at a special hearing in Edinburgh.

The court action will be Britain's biggest mass murder trial, which will take place under Scots law.

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See also:
04 Feb 00 |  Scotland
TV broadcast for Lockerbie trial
02 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Lockerbie suspects plead not guilty
06 Dec 99 |  Europe
Lockerbie legalities explained
18 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Lockerbie judges' biographies
22 Nov 99 |  World
Lockerbie defence given papers
29 Oct 99 |  World
Lockerbie charges in full

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