Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Lockerbie 'independence' questioned

Kenny MacAskill has been reported to the International Association of Prosecutors over his handling of Lockerbie bomb inquiries

Scotland's justice secretary and top law officer have been reported to a worldwide organisation of prosecutors following concerns about the handling of Lockerbie bombing inquiries.

Pressure group Justice for Megrahi wants the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) to look at Kenny MacAskill and Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland's "objectivity and independence" in dealing with allegations against the Crown Office and police.

The move is part of a wider campaign for an independent inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988.

Justice for Megrahi revealed the decision to report the senior figures on the day MSPs at Holyrood's Justice Committee consider its ongoing petition.

In a submission to the committee, group secretary Robert Forrester stated: "At a time when there is growing concern about the Crown Office and police handling of the whole Lockerbie inquiry, this latest international complaint makes it even more important that our petition remains a live issue within the Scottish Parliament.

"Not only are the Crown Office and police engaged in acting in their own interest by investigating the eight criminal allegations we have made against them and others but, as we informed you in a previous submission, the Crown Office has, without explanation, ordered the police to stop investigating three of the most central allegations.

"As the 25th anniversary of the Lockerbie tragedy approaches, the Scottish Government has apparently washed its hands of any responsibility for further action in relation to our concerns.

"It is therefore of paramount importance that this affair remains a live issue within the Scottish Parliament and that the Justice Committee continues in its duty to 'scrutinise the policies and performance of the Scottish Government and its agencies in matters related to justice' and ensures that this massive stain on our justice system is not buried in the cause of the unaccountable self-interest of our major prosecution agencies."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Mr al-Megrahi was convicted in a court of law and the Scottish ministers are clear that a court is the only appropriate forum for considering all the evidence in the case and determining his guilt or innocence. Following consideration of all relevant matters, only a criminal court has the power to either uphold or overturn Mr al-Megrahi's conviction."

A Crown Office spokesman said allegations made by Justice for Megrahi are being considered by Deputy Chief Constable Patrick Shearer, the former top police officer in the old Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary.

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