May 3, 2018 / 1:28 PM / 23 days ago

Scotland to review conviction of Lockerbie bomber

LONDON (Reuters) - Scotland is to review the conviction of the only man found guilty of the Lockerbie aircraft bombing to decide whether to allow his family to launch a fresh appeal.

Pam Am flight 103 was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988 en route from London to New York, an attack that killed 270 people.

In 2001, Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was jailed for life after being found guilty - in association with others never identified - of what remains Britain’s deadliest militant attack.

Megrahi, who denied being involved, died in Libya in 2012.

He was released three years earlier by Scotland’s devolved government on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Before going home, Megrahi abandoned an appeal against conviction in 2009.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) said on Thursday it would conduct a full review of his conviction to decide whether to refer the case for a fresh appeal.

“In any application where an applicant has previously chosen to abandon an appeal against conviction the Commission will ... look carefully at the reasons why the appeal was abandoned and consider whether it is in the interests of justice to allow a further review of the conviction,” said SCCRC Chief Executive Gerard Sinclair.

He added in a statement: “... the Commission believes that Mr Megrahi, in abandoning his appeal, did so as he held a genuine and reasonable belief that such a course of action would result in him being able to return home to Libya, at a time when he was suffering from terminal cancer.

“On that basis, the Commission has decided that it is in the interests of justice to accept the current application for a full review of his conviction.”

Most of the victims of the explosion over the town of Lockerbie were Americans on their way home from Europe for Christmas.

Eleven people died on the ground as the New York-bound jet plunged from the sky after a bomb exploded in its hold some 40 minutes after leaving London’s Heathrow airport.

In 2003, former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi accepted Libya’s responsibility for the bombing and paid compensation to the victims’ families but did not admit personally ordering the attack.

After his overthrow and killing in 2011, two Libyan prosecutors were appointed to work with Scottish and U.S. investigators trying to identify the other perpetrators.

Reporting by Stephen Addison, editing by Estelle Shirbon

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