Page last updated at 09:38 GMT, Saturday, 19 September 2009 10:38 UK

Law chief 'deplores' bomber claim

Adbelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, 9 September, 2009
Megrahi has vowed to continue his attempts to clear his name

Scotland's most senior prosecutor has condemned a fresh move by the Lockerbie bomber to protest his innocence.

Hundreds of pages of documents relating to an appeal by Abdelbaset al-Megrahi against his conviction for the 1988 bombing have been put on a new website.

But Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini said Megrahi had abandoned his appeal before his release on compassionate grounds.

Megrahi's lawyer said publishing the documents was his client's only means of continuing to protest his innocence.

Ms Angiolini said she deplored Megrahi's actions, and a court was the only appropriate forum for determining guilt or innocence.

She also criticised Libyan Megrahi's attempt to challenge his conviction though "selective publication of his view of the evidence in the media".

Scottish public

Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, was released from prison in Scotland in August and returned to Libya.

Before his release, he had been planning a second appeal against his conviction for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people.

Publishing details of his abandoned appeal, he said: "I will do everything in my power to persuade the public, and in particular the Scottish public, of my innocence."

However, Ms Angiolini, who is responsible for prosecutions in Scotland, said: "The only appropriate forum for the determination of guilt or innocence is the criminal court.

"Mr Megrahi was convicted unanimously by three senior judges following trial and his conviction was upheld unanimously by five judges, in an Appeal Court presided over by the Lord Justice General, Scotland's most senior judge.

"Mr Megrahi remains convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity in UK history."

She said the Crown had been "ready, willing and able" to argue the case for his conviction in the appeal which Megrahi had abandoned.

"As he and his legal team have made clear, the decision to discontinue the appeal proceedings was taken voluntarily by Mr Megrahi himself," she said.

"Having done so, he now seeks to retry his case in the media and criticise the evidence against him."

The SCCRC considered that failure to disclose this information, of itself, may have resulted in a miscarriage of justice
Megrahi documnets

But Tony Kelly, who acts as Megrahi's Scottish solicitor, told the BBC: "He cannot continue with the appeal - the appeal is finished, so what does he do with the information, and what does he do with his protestation of innocence?

"Does he simply abandon that and say he can't speak out?

"Of course he will never get to the stage where a court declares him innocent and declares that what happened in Kamp van Zeist in the Netherlands was a miscarriage of justice.

"But he can certainly put the information out, because there are lots of people who are interested in his plight."

Megrahi was serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 27 years after being convicted in 2001.

His release by Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill triggered an international controversy, sparking outrage among the relatives of US victims.

But there has been a long-running campaign, supported by some British relatives of victims, to have his conviction overturned.

The documents published by Megrahi relate to the grounds of appeal which were argued at the appeal court in Edinburgh between April 28 and May 19.

They set out some of the reasons why the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the case to the Appeal Court, along with additional arguments.

These include the way in which identification evidence was obtained from a Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci.

They also include what the defence papers describe as "significant failures" by the Crown to disclose information about the identification evidence and about Mr Gauci.

Mr Gauci picked out Megrahi as the man who bought clothes later found in the suitcase that contained the bomb.

The third set of appeal grounds also relate - according to the documents - to undisclosed information for which the UK Government had sought public interest immunity from disclosure.

"The SCCRC considered that failure to disclose this information, of itself, may have resulted in a miscarriage of justice and this was one of the reasons for referring the case back to the Appeal Court," said the documents.



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