November 24, 2020 By The Associated Press
LONDON — The family of a Libyan man convicted of blowing up an American airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 began a new posthumous appeal against the conviction on Tuesday, saying he was found guilty based on unreliable evidence.
The appeal at the High Court in Edinburgh is the third attempt to overturn Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s 2001 conviction for blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988. He is the only person ever convicted of the bombing, which killed all 259 people on the plane and another 11 on the ground.
Al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer, lost one appeal and abandoned another before being freed in 2009 on compassionate grounds because he was suffering from cancer.
He died in 2012, still protesting his innocence. His family has sought to overturn the murder conviction, citing concerns about the evidence, including doubts about the timer alleged to have detonated the bomb.
Al-Megrahi was convicted at his 2001 trial by a panel of judges, and the family’s lawyer, Claire Mitchell, said no “reasonable” jury would have convicted al-Megrahi on the evidence presented.
She said prosecutors failed to prove al-Megrahi was responsible for placing a suitcase containing the bomb, along with items of clothing, on the plane. The prosecution case relied on testimony from a Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci, that a man resembling al-Megrahi had purchased the clothes at his store.
Mitchell said Gauci’s evidence which was “so muddled that no evidence could be … relied upon to bear the weight of any conviction.”
She said “no reasonable jury, properly directed, could have returned the verdict that it did, namely the conviction of Mr. Megrahi.”
Five judges are hearing the appeal, which is taking place virtually because of coronavirus restrictions.