UN monitor decries Lockerbie judgement

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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  • Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2002 06:38:06 -0000

The proceedings were flawed, says Prof Köchler 

A United Nations observer has described the dismissal of the Lockerbie
bomber's appeal as "a spectacular miscarriage of justice". 
Professor Hans Köchler was speaking after five Scottish judges rejected
Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi's attempt to overturn his conviction
for murdering 270 people in the 1988 atrocity.
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Libya condemned the outcome as a "political decision under pressure from
Washington and London" but it was welcomed by the US Government. 

Al-Megrahi is now preparing to be flown by helicopter from the special
Scottish Court in the Netherlands to Scotland's largest prison in
Glasgow to serve his life sentence of at least 20 years. 

Barlinnie Prison 

Al-Megrahi is to be transfered to Barlinnie 
He may be held alone in a special unit 
His sentence is for life For more: 'Irony' of bomber's jail treatment
Professor Köchler, 53, who teaches philosophy at the University of
Innsbruck in Austria, was one of five UN observers who followed the
Lockerbie case. 

They were appointed as part of the deal between the UN and Libya which
allowed the extradition of al-Megrahi and a co-accused, who was found
not guilty at the trial last year, to face the charges. 

The observers are not bound to report back formally to the UN but
Professor Köchler said that under the circumstances, he felt compelled
to do so. 

He told BBC Radio Scotland's Newsdrive programme: "I am sorry to admit
that my impression is that justice was not done and that we are dealing
here with a rather spectacular case of a miscarriage of justice. 

Credence issue 

"I am at a loss to explain how this decision of the appeal court can
have been passed unanimously in light of some of the questions asked and
analysis presented by one or the other of the appeal court judges during
the appeal. 

"I see a kind of gap between how the sessions of the appeal court went
and the unanaimity of this decision... which did not give any credence
at all to any of the grounds of appeal which were presented. 

"I base my observation only on logic and reason. 

"Frankly speaking I am not convinced, I was not convinced when I read
the opinion of the court after the trial last year and I was not
convinced when I went through the text presented today. 

"I am not convinced at all that the sequence of events that led to this
explosion of the plane over Scotland was as described by the court.
Everything that is presented is only circumstantial evidence." 

Asked if he spoke for the entire UN observation team, he said: "Based on
the informal conversations we had today - you can imagine that we have
spoken to each other after the verdict - I have the impression that this
concern is shared by the large majority of the observers." 

Clare Connelly, a member of the Lockerbie Trial Briefing Unit at Glasgow
University, said Professor Köchler's comments displayed a "profound
misunderstanding" of Scotland's adversarial legal system. 

Judge's comments 

Al-Megrahi showed no emotion as Scotland's senior judge, Lord Justice
General Lord Cullen, announced the decision at a three-minute hearing in
the Scottish Court. 

He said: "For the reasons given in the judgement, in which we all
concur, we have concluded that none of the grounds of appeal is well

"The appeal will accordingly be refused." 

Professor Köchler spoke to al-Megrahi after the hearing and revealed:
"He is rather composed but of course frustrated and he feels himself to
be a victim of international politics. 

"He is in an angry mood but composed." 

Scotland's most senior law officer, Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC, said:
"I believe that these proceedings have demonstrated what the judicial
process can achieve when the international community acts together. 

"I hope that this can be the enduring legacy of the Lockerbie trial. It
is one that cannot and must not be forgotten". 

Legal history 

Al-Megrahi's defence team lodged grounds for his appeal a week after the
guilty verdict at the end of his trial in January 2001 at the
custom-built court in Camp Zeist. 

The 14-day appeal hearing made Scottish legal history by being broadcast
live on television and the internet. 

For the Libyan, Bill Taylor QC argued that new evidence presented to the
appeal pointed to a miscarriage of justice. 

He said it raised the possibility that the bomb had been placed on board
the aircraft at Heathrow and not in Malta, as the trial judges had

However, Alan Turnbull QC, for the prosecution, said the new evidence
was weak and flawed, and did not affect the original case. 

Commenting on the decision, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said:
"The completion of the appeal does not end U.S. sanctions against Libya,
but should spur Libya to take quick action to fully comply with the
requirements of the UN Security Council." 

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called on Libya to honour its
obligations in respect of Lockerbie and to co-operate fully with UN
Security Council resolutions. 

The UK Government would study the judgement before deciding on whether
or not it would hold an inquiry into the bombing, he added. 

Final option 

Only one avenue of appeal remains open to him under the Scottish legal

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which sits in London, has a
supervisory jurisdiction over constitutional matters within the UK. 

However, al-Megrahi can only ask the body to re-examine the case under
the European Convention on Human Rights. 

Source:  BBC

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