Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's family to appeal Lockerbie conviction

Nicola Slawson
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi pictured in 2009, the year he was released on compassionate grounds after a diagnosis of terminal prostate cancer. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The family of the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing is to launch a fresh attempt to clear his name.

Aamer Anwar, a lawyer representing Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s family, confirmed files would be handed to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) within the next two weeks.

The SCCRC will decide whether there are grounds to refer the case to the appeal court.

Megrahi’s widow, Aisha, and son Ali met recently with Anwar to discuss the grounds of the appeal. It is believed they will present concerns over the evidence which convicted Megrahi, including that given by a Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci, who died last year.

In 1988, New York-bound Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, 38 minutes after takeoff from London, killing all 259 people on board as well as 11 people on the ground.

The remains of Pan Am Flight 103 that exploded and crashed over Lockerbie, Scotland, on 21 December 1988. Photograph: Roy Letkey/AFP/Getty Images

In 2001, Megrahi was found guilty of mass murder. He maintained his innocence until his death in 2012.

He was sentenced to a minimum of 27 years in prison after a trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. He lost his first appeal in 2002.

He later applied to the SCCRC for a review of his conviction. After a £1.1m investigation, it found in June 2007 six grounds where it believed a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.

In 2009, Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds after a diagnosis of terminal prostate cancer. He dropped the second attempt to overturn his conviction shortly before returning to Libya where he died three years later.

Some of Lockerbie families believe Megrahi was rightly found guilty, and prosecutors at the Crown Office in Scotland insist they do not fear scrutiny of the conviction and would defend it rigorously.

But other victims’ families, including some of the British relatives, believe he was wrongly convicted and that the truth about who murdered their loved ones remains elusive.

This group – led by Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died – attempted to pursue an appeal in 2015 on behalf of Megrahi.

But appeal judges in Edinburgh ruled that the right to carry forward the miscarriage of justice appeal for him was not possible under Scottish law.

Swire backs plans for the latest appeal, telling the Daily Record: “Shortly before Megrahi died, I met him in Tripoli and reassured him I would still do everything I could to clear his name. I am delighted that this request for an appeal is now being placed before the SCCRC.”