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 Legal victory over appeal for Megrahi

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PostSubject: Legal victory over appeal for Megrahi   Thu Oct 16, 2008 1:14 am

October 16 2008

The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing won a legal victory yesterday in the latest stage of his long- running bid to have his conviction overturned.

Appeal judges in Edinburgh ruled that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi should be allowed to put forward an unlimited list of objections to the trial which led to his life sentence.

They rejected the Crown's view that it would be "absurd", "illogical" and incompetent in law for Megrahi to be granted an appeal against his conviction with such a broad focus.
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The Crown had argued for the hearing to be confined to five reasons which, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission had previously said, suggested that Megrahi might have suffered a miscarriage of justice.

But the Libyan's lawyers lodged full grounds of appeal last December, arguing that the full appeal should include all the points pertinent to the case. Yesterday, three judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh agreed.

Lord Hamilton, sitting with Lords Kingarth and Eassie, said that the court "holds that the appellant is entitled to have his stated grounds of appeal decided by the court on their respective merits".

Megrahi's lawyer said afterwards that the ruling was a "complete victory" for his client and a "complete rejection" of the Crown's argument.

Solicitor Tony Kelly said: "Lots of resources have been wasted before the court and the end result is that the appellant can proceed untrammelled."

Asked how his client felt on hearing the judges' decision, he added: "I've spoken to him and he is delighted."

Former Libyan secret service man Megrahi, now 56, was sentenced to a minimum of 27 years for the December 1988 bombing of PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, which caused 270 deaths. He has already lost one appeal against his 2001 conviction.

Last year, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission granted him fresh leave to appeal after examining his case.

Last December, Megrahi's legal team asked for their own grounds of appeal to be added and submitted their own list, running to 317 pages.

Referring to criticism over the time which it has taken for the Crown's objection to be dealt with, Lord Hamilton said that the court had to apply the law as it stands.

He added that the issue of whether it was a good idea to use up court time in such a way for parliament to consider.

Megrahi was held in a special cell in Glasgow's Barlinnie jail after his conviction and later moved to Greenock Prison. No date has yet been fixed for a hearing which will decide whether he should be freed.
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