Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Cardinal backs Megrahi inquiry call

Cardinal Keith O'Brien backs calls for an independent inquiry into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber

The leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland has backed calls for an independent inquiry into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien said he would add his name to an online petition calling for a review of the 2001 jailing of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103.

The appeal is being led by pressure group Justice For Megrahi (JFM), whose members include Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the terror attack in December 1988.

Campaigners believe Megrahi was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and is not guilty based on the evidence led by prosecutors.

Cardinal O'Brien said accusations of wrongful conviction made against the Scottish justice system need to be addressed.

He said in a statement: "I do not claim to have examined all the evidence in this case, far from it, but I do claim to be increasingly concerned about the reputation of the Scottish justice system.

"Global accusations of wrongful conviction made against our system must be dealt with. Left unheeded they will weaken the administration of justice in Scotland by casting doubts on its probity and ability.

"I believe the best way to remedy this is for the Scottish Parliament to launch an independent inquiry into the 2001 conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. Regardless of the outcome I believe Scotland's justice system would be strengthened by such a process."

Megrahi, who has prostate cancer, was freed from jail in Greenock on compassionate grounds by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in August last year. The Libyan dropped his appeal against conviction in the run-up to Mr MacAskill's decision, which prompted controversy around the world.

Dr Swire and others will hand over the petition to the Scottish Parliament. It calls on the parliament "to urge the Scottish Government to open an independent inquiry into the 2001 Kamp van Zeist conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988."

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