PanAm bomber granted appeal

The Lockerbie bomber has been granted leave to appeal against his conviction. A spokesman for the high court of justiciary in Edinburgh said yesterday a preliminary hearing will be held in October at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands to consider procedural matters and a full hearing will take place at a later date.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 49, from Libya, was jailed for life at the specially constructed Scottish court in January this year after being convicted by a panel of three judges of the murder of 270 people in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988. His co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted.

Al Megrahi's lawyers lodged the full grounds for appeal in June after a series of extensions, but the details have not been made public. It is expected that the defence team are likely to challenge evidence which came from Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper who identified Al Megrahi as a man who bought clothing from his store shortly before the bombing.

Remnants of that clothing were found scattered around Lockerbie and there was evidence that the clothes were packed around the bomb which blew up the aircraft. The reliability of Mr Gauci's evidence was questioned during the trial.

The defence are expected to question whether the trial judges were entitled to decide that Al Megrahi was the man who bought the clothes.

The grounds for appeal were studied by a Scottish judge who has not been named and he has decided that an appeal should be heard. The appeal will be heard by five judges.

Earlier this month it was revealed that the leading barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, had joined an international team working on the appeal. Since his conviction, Al Megrahi has been held on his own in a cell at Camp Zeist.


Kirsty Scott

The GuardianTramp

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