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Service marks Lockerbie atrocity

The 270 people who lost their lives in the Lockerbie bombing exactly 26 years ago have been remembered at a memorial service in the United States.

Scottish law officers were among those who joined relatives of those who died at the service at the Arlington cemetery in Washington to mark the anniversary of the 1988 atrocity.

Leading the delegation was Scotland's top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland.

He earlier reaffirmed his belief in the guilt of the only man convicted of the bombing, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, and vowed to track down his accomplices.

Mr Mulholland said no Crown Office investigator or prosecutor has raised a concern about the evidence in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the south of Scotland on December 21 1988.

Megrahi's part in the bombing of the flight from London to New York has been called into question in a series of books and documentaries.

A petition seeking "Justice For Megrahi", backed by politicians and family members of some UK victims, remains on Holyrood's books more than two years after Megrahi's death.

Mr Mulholland, who addressed the memorial service, said his ongoing investigation "remains on the evidence, and not on speculation and supposition".

He said: "The current instability in Libya has meant that some investigative opportunities have required to be reassessed, which I know has been frustrating for family members.

"However our prosecutors and police officers, working with UK Government and US colleagues, will continue to pursue this investigation, with the sole aim of bringing those who acted along with al-Megrahi to justice.

"There are other significant investigative opportunities open to us which are not reliant on obtaining evidence from our Libyan colleagues.

"The Crown will never give up the fight to secure justice for the families of those who died.

"It might be 26 years since 270 people lost their lives in the terrorist attack but justice has no sell-by date in Scotland.

"Over the years many people have worked on the inquiry and all have been given the same instruction; to carefully review the evidence and work to identify all of those who were involved in the conspiracy to destroy Pan Am flight 103.

"During the 26-year long inquiry not one Crown Office investigator or prosecutor has raised a concern about the evidence in this case.

"We remain committed to this investigation and our focus remains on the evidence, and not on speculation and supposition."

Earlier this year, Megrahi's relatives embarked on a legal bid to clear his name amid claims that his case is the "worst miscarriage of justice in British legal history".

Six immediate members of his family joined forces with 24 British relatives of those who died in the atrocity to seek, ultimately, a third appeal against his conviction in the Scottish courts.

They united to submit an application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) for a review of the conviction, a move which could see the case referred back to the High Court.

One of those British relatives, Jim Swire, whose 23-year-old daughter Flora died in the bombing, said it remains his intent to see those responsible for her death brought to justice.

He has long held the belief that Megrahi was wrongly convicted of the crime.

He said: "So by 1990 I was appalled by what I already knew concerning what appeared to me to be the betrayal of the trust which we should be able to place in our Government to protect us.

"For me this case is about two families, mine and Abdelbaset's, but behind them now are seen to lie the needs of 25 other families in applying for a further appeal 26 years after the event itself. We need the truth and Scotland's management of this case produced a verdict perfectly tailored for use by those who would seek to ensure that the full truth remains hidden."

Solicitor Aamer Anwar, who is co-ordinating efforts to quash Megrahi's conviction, said: "The Lord Advocate's speech in Washington makes for great sound bites with an American audience but lacks analysis of the essential facts."

He accused the Crown Office of repeating "an age-old mantra of the Crown of never doubting the safety of the conviction", despite "many miscarriages of justice over the years".

All 259 people on the plane and 11 Lockerbie residents died when the aircraft exploded.

Megrahi was jailed for life and lost his first appeal against the mass murder conviction in 2002.

An investigation by the SCCRC led to a finding in 2007 of six grounds where it is believed a miscarriage of justice may have occurred, paving the way for a second appeal.

But the Libyan dropped that appeal in 2009 before being released from jail by the Scottish Government on compassionate grounds in light of his terminal prostate cancer.

He died protesting his innocence in Libya in 2012.

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