22 July 2010 Last updated at 11:50 GMT

Address of original article (reproduced below) as on 22 July 2010, 11:50 GMT:

UN observer: Lockerbie truth 'may not be uncovered'

Dr. Hans Kochler, interviewed on BBC Newsnight Scotland, 21 July 2010.

Dr. Hans Kochler, interviewed on BBC Newsnight Scotland, 21 July 2010, 23:00 GMT. Click on the image to watch the interview.

The UN's observer at the trial of the Lockerbie bomber has said the circumstances surrounding the case may never be fully uncovered.


Dr Hans Kochler, who saw Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi convicted at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in 2001, said he was not convinced of the Libyan's guilt.


The 58-year-old was jailed for life for the 1988 bombing which killed 270 people, most of them Americans.


US senators want his release in 2009 on compassionate grounds to be examined.


The former international observer agreed there should be an investigation, not only into the release but also the wider issues of the Lockerbie inquiry, trial and appeal.


He told BBC's Newsnight Scotland: "Why, for instance, has the appeal - which was ongoing last year - been dropped by Mr Megrahi?


"Another question would be why did the secretary of state for justice take that unprecedented step and visit the Libyan prisoner in a Scottish jail for a private meeting, after that prisoner had applied for compassionate release?"


Dr Kochler said there was never any question of Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill believing there had been a miscarriage of justice in the case, but questioned what was discussed at the meeting between the two at Greenock Prison on 4 August last year.


He pointed out that Megrahi dropped his appeal against his conviction on 12 August.


"The issue is not one of innocence or guilt," he said.


"The minister has repeatedly made clear that he fully trusts the judgement of the Scottish courts.


"He has certainly discussed matters which he did not disclose in public. He must have had a very compelling reason to meet that prisoner in private."


When asked if the truth of the circumstances would ever be uncovered, Dr Kochler said: "I'm very sceptical.


"We do not know the truth about the Lockerbie tragedy.


"The question that still remains is what the second appeal would have resulted in, what decision would the second appeal court have finally made if the proceedings were not aborted."


In 2007 the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission - which examines possible miscarriages of justice - granted Megrahi a second appeal.


It subsequently emerged he was suffering from terminal cancer.


His second appeal got under way last year but shortly afterwards applications were made for both his transfer to a Libyan jail and release on compassionate grounds.


Megrahi did not have to drop his appeal in order to be released compassionately.


The SCCRC has spent the past six months trying to get details of the abandoned appeal made public, but none of the people and organisations involved - the Crown Office, Foreign Office, police authorities, Megrahi and his legal team - have given unqualified consent to the release of the documents.


Mr Kochler told Newsnight Scotland: "I am not convinced that the Libyan convict, the only person who was convicted in this case, is guilty as charged.


For that reason I would have hoped that the SCCRC's report would have been taken more seriously and that the appeal would have been allowed to continue in the interests of justice. "



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