RELATIVES of the Lockerbie bombing victims have banded together with the accused’s own family in a renewed search for the truth.
A Scottish court convicted airport security officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi more than a decade ago of planting the bomb that downed Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people.
But many in the families of those killed believe Mr Megrahi was not guilty, with evidence suggesting he was not the bomber withheld from his 2001 trial and subsequent appeal, a key witness found to be an unreliable CIA asset and the presence in the wreckage of a suitcase full of white powder belonging to one of two senior CIA operatives included in the deathtoll remains unexplained.
Solicitor Aamer Anwar told reporters yesterday that two dozen of the victims’ relatives had joined with six “immediate family members” of the late Mr Megrahi in lodging a new appeal with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Mr Megrahi’s relatives have asked to stay anonymous as they believe the case’s political sensitivity could put their lives in danger.
But Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was among the dead, said Mr Megrahi’s succumbing to cancer in 2012 was no reason to consider the case closed.
“If you had a daughter aged 23 who was both beautiful and highly intelligent and she was brutally murdered in a situation where it’s clear that the national protection security services had abysmally failed, do you not think that even 25 years later you might want to feel that you had a status in discovering the truth about who murdered her and why she was not protected?” he asked.
The SNP government has repeatedly refused to hold an inquiry into the affair, arguing that the issues should be raised through the appeal court.
Yet in April as the families' legal bid loomed Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill reported that he would delay previously imminent legal reforms under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill.
The minister told reporters the delay would allow independent review of the legislation’s scrapping of corroboration.
But the Bill would also have axed “the need for finality and certainty” in hearing the families’ appeal — a legal test of whether the prospect of further legal challenges outweighed potential injustice.