Page last updated at 11:57 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 12:57 UK

Lockerbie judicial review claim

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi
Megrahi was convicted of the bombing which killed 270 people

Relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims could demand a judicial review to stop Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi being returned to Libya, it has been claimed.

SNP MSP Christine Grahame said the possibility would prevent the terminally ill Megrahi returning to Libya in the short term.

It would effectively ensure Megrahi, who was convicted of the 1988 bombing, died in Greenock prison, she said.

Libya has already submitted a request to have Megrahi returned.

A total of 270 people died when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said earlier this week that no decision on the prisoner transfer could be made while Megrahi pursued a second appeal against his conviction for the bombing.

The likelihood of a drawn-out process resulting from a judicial review launched by US relatives would effectively condemn Mr Megrahi to die in prison
Christine Grahame MSP

It has been reported that Megrahi has offered to drop his appeal if Mr MacAskill agrees to the request to have him returned to Libya.

South of Scotland MSP Ms Grahame said she understood US relatives of the victims had taken legal advice in both London and Scotland, and would seek an immediate judicial review if Mr MacAskill agreed to the Libyan Government request.

The request was made under a prisoner transfer agreement signed by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2007.

She also claimed the relatives warned Mr MacAskill they would take this course of action, during a teleconference meeting he held with them last week.

Megrahi is currently being held in Greenock prison where he is receiving treatment for advanced stage prostate cancer.

Ms Grahame, who has met Megrahi twice in recent months, said Scottish Prison Service officials had already informed her there was nowhere within the prison estate properly suited to managing Megrahi's condition.

"This makes the case for compassionate release absolutely imperative. That option is not subject to judicial review and is the only sensible compromise position in light of the fresh evidence and Mr Megrahi's deteriorating health," she said.

'Considerable delay'

"The weight of evidence which has emerged combined with the serious doubts raised over the original evidence that was led at the trial have left me in no doubt of Mr Megrahi's innocence.

"The likelihood of a drawn-out process resulting from a judicial review launched by US relatives would effectively condemn Mr Megrahi to die in prison. There has already been considerable delay which means that Mr Megrahi will not live to see the end of the appeal he has ongoing against his conviction.

Ms Grahame said that if Megrahi was allowed to die in prison but it was later established he was innocent, people would question why the Scottish justice system "failed so dramatically".

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The justice secretary is still considering the application and it would be wrong to comment on any hypothetical situation which may arise from any decision still to be made."

She added that any judicial review would be a matter for the courts.



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