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Is the Lockerbie bomber really guilty?

UK Daily Mail | June 28, 2007
MICHAEL SEAMARK and JONATHAN BROCKLEBANK

The Libyan found guilty of killing 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing won the right to a second appeal yesterday after doubts were raised about crucial evidence.

Former intelligence officer Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was convicted six years ago of murdering the 259 passengers and crew on board Pan Am Flight 103 as well as 11 Lockerbie residents.

But after a three-year investigation the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission announced a "miscarriage of justice may have occurred".

There have been doubts about Al Megrahi's conviction ever since a Scottish court, sitting in Holland, jailed him for life after the Boeing 747 was blown out of the sky four days before Christmas in 1988.

The Commission has found evidence which it says must be considered by the Appeal Court - a decision welcomed by members of the support group UK Families Flight 103, who are convinced the full facts of the atrocity have never been revealed.

Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed, said many of the relatives who had looked carefully at the evidence had doubts about the verdict and were unable to "achieve closure".

Many suspect Iran was behind the bombing in revenge for the shooting down of an airliner over the Gulf by a U.S. warship six months earlier.

Dr Swire added: "I went into that court in Holland thinking I was going to see the trial of those who were responsible for the murder of my daughter. I came out of it thinking he had been framed."

The Rev John Mosey, whose daughter Helga was a passenger on the plane, said he was "85 per cent" sure that Al Megrahi was innocent.

The group want answers about why intelligence and security services failed to prevent the atrocity - and why they have been refused a comprehensive inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the bombing.

In the investigation's early stages, the finger of blame was pointed at Iran and Syria. It was only three years later that attention turned to Libya.

A key witness at Al Megrahi's trial was Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci, who testified that the Libyan had bought clothing - later found in the Lockerbie debris - from him two weeks before the bombing.

But the findings raise questions about the date he allegedly bought the clothing and highlight new evidence that Mr Gauci saw a picture of Al Megrahi in a magazine linking him to the bombing four days before he picked him out in an identity parade.

Al Megrahi learned of the decision yesterday in his cell in Greenock, near Glasgow. In a statement he insisted he was not involved in the bombing "in any way whatsoever".

He added: "To the relatives of those many people who died on 21st December 1988 I can say very little that will not sound insensitive.

"What I would like to reiterate, however, is that their cause is in no way served by the incarceration of an innocent man.

"Like them, I wish the whole truth about Pan Am 103 to be exposed."

His solicitor Tony Kelly said doubt over when Mr Gauci is alleged to have sold Al Megrahi clothes could be "fatal" to the prosecution's case.

Mr Kelly also refused to rule out the possibility that he may apply for Al Megrahi to be freed pending his appeal, although he said said there would be no immediate application.

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