Lockerbie bomber's family begin attempt to quash murder convictions

Lockerbie bomber’s family begin third attempt to overturn his mass murder conviction over deaths of 270 people killed when Pan Am jet exploded over Scotland in UK’s worst terror atrocity

  • Abdelbaset al-Megrahi jailed for life in 2001 for mass murder in 1988
  • 243 passengers and 16 crew members killed as well as 11 Lockerbie residents   
  • Controversially released in 2009 on compassionate grounds and died in 2012 
  • His family insist that the former Gaddafi spy has suffered miscarriage of justice 

A third appeal against the conviction of dead Libyan spy Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing brought by the convicted murderer’s son is under way at the High Court in Edinburgh today.

The downing of Pan Am flight 103, travelling from London to New York on December 21 1988, killed 270 people in Britain’s largest terrorist atrocity.

Former Libyan intelligence officer Megrahi, who was found guilty in 2001 of mass murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years, was the only person convicted of the attack.

An appeal against his conviction was lodged after the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) referred the case to the High Court in March, ruling a possible miscarriage of justice may have occurred. 

Judges then granted his son, Ali al-Megrahi, permission to proceed with the appeal in relation to the argument that ‘no reasonable jury’ could have returned the verdict the court did, and on the grounds of non-disclosure of documents by the Crown. 

The virtual hearing started in Edinburgh today. 


Former Libyian intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is the only person to have been convicted of involvement in the Lockerbie bombing which claimed 270 lives. He was freed in 2009 and returned to Libya because of terninal illness. He died three years later

British lawyer Aamer Anwar (C) arrives with members of his team at a venue in Glasgow on November 24, 2020 to take part on the opening day of a posthumous appeal against the conviction of Libyan. They were attending a virtual hearing, held in 

The damaged aircraft cockpit of Pan Am 103 that exploded killing 270 people is pictured after the bombing 

December 1988: The homes of the people of Lockerbie after the plane was blown from the sky above the small town in Dumfries and Galloway

December 21, 1988

Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to Detroit, via London and New York, blows up over Lockerbie in Scotland. A total of 270 people died

November 1991

Britain and the US accuse Libyans Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi and Al Amin Khailifa Fhimah of the bombing. However, Libyan authorities deny involvement

January 1995 

MPs demand an inquiry after US intelligence suggests Iran was behind the bombing, instead of Libya

January 2001 

Megrahi was convicted of mass murder while Fhimah is found not guilty

August 2003 

The UN lifts sanctions on Libya. Blame was accepted in Tripoli and the government compensates families of the victims

August 2009

Megrahi is freed after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.  He did not die until 2012  

May 2018

A review of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s conviction for the bombing is to be carried out by the Scottish Criminal Cases Commission  

November 2018 

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission says there was no criminality in the Megrahi case

In a statement issued before the hearing started, family lawyer Aamer Anwar, who represents the family, said: ‘It has been a long journey in the pursuit for truth and justice.

‘When Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie nearly 32 years ago, killing 270 people from 21 countries, it remains the worst terrorist atrocity ever committed in the UK.

‘Since then the case of Abdelbasset Al-Megrahi, the only man ever convicted of the crime, has been described as the worst miscarriage of justice in British legal history.’

He added: ‘The reputation of the Scottish criminal justice system has suffered internationally because of widespread doubts about the conviction of Mr Al-Megrahi.

‘It is in the interests of justice that these doubts can be addressed; however, he was convicted in a Scottish court of law and that is the only appropriate place for his guilt or innocence to be determined.’

The appeal, which is taking place virtually, began on Tuesday and is being heard before five judges, including Lord President Lord Carloway.

Claire Mitchell QC, representing the Megrahi family, told the court: ‘It is submitted in this case that no reasonable jury properly directed could have returned the verdict that it did, namely the conviction of Mr Megrahi.’

In a statement issued before the hearing started, lawyer Aamer Anwar, who represents the family, said: ‘It has been a long journey in the pursuit for truth and justice.

‘When Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie nearly 32 years ago, killing 270 people from 21 countries, it remains the worst terrorist atrocity ever committed in the UK.

‘Since then the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only man ever convicted of the crime, has been described as the worst miscarriage of justice in British legal history.’

He added: ‘The reputation of the Scottish criminal justice system has suffered internationally because of widespread doubts about the conviction of Mr al-Megrahi.

‘It is in the interests of justice that these doubts can be addressed; however, he was convicted in a Scottish court of law and that is the only appropriate place for his guilt or innocence to be determined.’

tLawyer Aamer Anwar, alongside Libyan Consultant Ferial El Ayeb, said: ‘The case of Abdelbasset Al-Megrahi, the only man ever convicted of the crime, has been described as the worst miscarriage of justice in British legal history.’ It is the third appeal on the case

The scene of devastation caused by the explosion of a 747 Pan Am Jumbo jet over Lockerbie, that crashed 21 December on the route to New-York, with 259 passengers on board. All 243 passengers and 16 crew members were killed as well as 11 Lockerbie resident

Megrahi’s first appeal against his conviction was refused by the High Court in 2002 and was referred back five years later following an SCCRC review.

He abandoned this second appeal in 2009, shortly before his release from prison on compassionate grounds while terminally ill with cancer.

Megrahi returned to Libya and died in 2012.   

Earlier this year lawyers for al-Megrahi demanded access to secret Government papers as they appeal against his conviction over the 1988 terror attack which left 270 dead. 

His family said it is ‘in the interest of justice’ that the defence get to see the two documents, which are covered by a public interest immunity certificate.

An appeal against Megrahi’s conviction was lodged after the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) referred the case to the High Court in March, ruling a possible miscarriage of justice may have occurred. 

Who was Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi?  

Former Libyian intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is the only person to have been convicted of involvement in the Lockerbie bombing which claimed 270 lives

Former Libyian intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is the only person to have been convicted of involvement in the Lockerbie bombing which claimed 270 lives. 

Was jailed in 2001 for his role in the attack which brought down Pan Am flight 103 on December 21, 1988, in what became the worst terrorist attack on British soil. 

The Boeing 747 jet took off from London Heathrow airport around 30 minutes before it exploded as it cruised at 31,000 feet above the Scottish borders. 

Al-Megrahi was convicted on the basis of evidence from Maltese shop owner Tony Gauci, who died in 2016 aged 75.   

Mr Gauci ran a clothes shop in Swieqi, Malta, at the time of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 and claimed that Megrahi bought a piece of clothing found among the debris of the aircraft.

His evidence helped to secure the 2001 conviction of the former Libyan intelligence officer for the atrocity in which 270 people died, including 11 people on the ground. But some doubts were subsequently raised about Mr Gauci’s reliability.

Megrahi was the only person to have been convicted of the bombing over the south of Scotland on December 21 1988.

He was jailed for life but an investigation by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) led to a finding in 2007 of six grounds where it is believed a miscarriage of justice may have occurred, paving the way for a second appeal.

The Libyan dropped that appeal in 2009 before being released from jail on compassionate grounds due to his terminal prostate cancer. He died protesting his innocence in Libya in 2012.

The trial judgment detailed how the three judges were satisfied Megrahi had walked into Mr Gauci’s shop and bought items of clothing which ended up packed around the bomb that exploded in a suitcase on board the flight.

Al-Megrahi, pictured here following his release from prison on compassionate grounds in 2009 claimed he was innocent of the crime

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