IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Lockerbie bomber continues push to clear name

The only man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing posted his legal defense to the Web on Friday, saying he hopes it will help convince people he had nothing to do with the attack that killed 270 people.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The only man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing posted his legal defense to the Web on Friday, saying he hopes it will help convince people he had nothing to do with the terrorist attack that killed 270 people.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi said the 353 pages of legal arguments are part of an appeal of his conviction that was dropped shortly before he was released from a Scottish jail last month. The documents are particularly aimed at Scots and the families of the bombing's victims, he said.

All 259 people on board Pan Am Flight 103 — mostly Americans — and 11 people on the ground died Dec. 21, 1988, when a bomb exploded mid-flight as the plane flew over Scotland.

"I will do everything in my power to persuade the public, and in particular the Scottish public, of my innocence," the terminally ill al-Megrahi said in a statement. "I hope that this can assist in the understanding of my case, especially for those who have been most profoundly affected by it."

Al-Megrahi, who was given only about three months to live by doctors, was freed last month by Scottish authorities on compassionate grounds.

His release and the festive welcome he received upon returning to his native Libya outraged the families of the American victims and drew strong protests from U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama and FBI director Robert Mueller.

But the release also interrupted al-Megrahi's legal campaign to have his conviction overturned.

The former Libyan intelligence agent was sentenced to a minimum of 27 years in prison by a specially convened Scottish Court in The Netherlands in 2001, but he always proclaimed his innocence.

His Scottish lawyers argue that he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and won the right to have the case reviewed in 2007.

Al-Megrahi's appeal began in April, but it was dropped Aug. 18 to allow al-Megrahi to be considered for a prison transfer to Libya. No transfer can occur while legal proceedings are ongoing.

Claims 'gaps in evidence'
Al-Megrahi was eventually freed on compassionate grounds, not through a prison transfer. He said Friday that by dropping the appeal, he had robbed himself of an opportunity to clear his name through legal channels.

The legal argument released Friday consisted of the written grounds of appeal submitted to Scotland's High Court this year. In the papers, his lawyers argued that al-Megrahi's conviction relied on sketchy eyewitness testimony and several leaps of faith.

"The verdict was one which no reasonable jury could have returned," the argument says. "There are too many gaps in the evidence."

In particular, the argument challenged evidence that tied al-Megrahi to a piece of clothing found wrapped around the bomb that brought down the airliner.

Tony Gauci, a Maltese store owner, claimed that a man resembling al-Megrahi entered his shop on Dec. 7, 1988, and bought the clothing in question. But the argument said Gauci's testimony was of "poor quality — confused, contradictory and factually incorrect."

The argument also called into question the prosecution's theory of what al-Megrahi was doing in Malta and how the bomb made it on to the plane.

Richard Barker, an opposition lawmaker at Scotland's Parliament, said that al-Megrahi "remains in the eyes of Scottish justice the murderer of 270 people."

"The release of these files does not change that fact," he said Friday.