The family of the lone man found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie aircraft bombing can appeal his conviction, an independent Scottish review body ruled, after concluding there might have been a miscarriage of justice.
Pam Am Flight 103 was blown up over the Scottish town Lockerbie en route to New York from London, an attack that killed 270 people, mostly Americans going home for Christmas.
In 2001, Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was jailed for life after being found guilty of the murder of 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 Lockerbie residents who died in the attack.
Megrahi, who denied involvement, died in Libya in 2012 after being released three years earlier by Scotland’s government on compassionate grounds following diagnosis of terminal cancer.
On Wednesday, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission said it referred his conviction to Scotland’s High Court, the second time the SCCRC gave permission for an appeal.
“The commission now believes a miscarriage of justice may have occurred in Mr Megrahi’s case,” it said, adding there were two reasons for its decision: unreasonable verdict and non-disclosure of evidence.
“We note since our last review further information has become available, including in the public domain, which the commission has now been able to consider and assess,” Bill Matthews, the commission chairman, said in a statement.
“I am satisfied the matter is now returning to the appropriate forum – the appeal court – to fully consider all issues raised in our statement of reasons.”
Megrahi first appealed in 2002 but this was refused by Scotland’s High Court. In 2003 he appealed to the SCCRC and the case was referred to the High Court for a second appeal in 2007. He abandoned this in 2009 just before his return to Libya.
In 2017, his family asked the SCCRC to relook the case.
In 2003, then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi accepted his country’s responsibility for the bombing and paid compensation to victims’ families, but did not admit to personally ordering the attack. Scotland’s top prosecutor said in 2014 no evidence had emerged to cast doubt on the conviction.
Megrahi’s family and relatives of Scottish victims doubted his guilt.