I.P.O. Information Service

Why has the Lockerbie convict abandoned his appeal?

Dr. Hans Koechler, International Observer at the Lockerbie Trial:

"Scotland's Justice Secretary will have to clarify vis-à-vis the Scottish, British and international public the exact circumstances under which the appeal was dropped"

Vienna, 31 August 2009


Dr. Hans Koechler today has reiterated the serious doubts he had raised in the British daily "The Independent" about the decision by Mr. Al Megrahi, the only person convicted in the Lockerbie trial, to drop his appeal. “Under Scottish law he did not need to abandon his appeal in order to be released on compassionate grounds. So why did he do it? It makes no sense that he would suddenly let it go.”

In a statement issued on 9 August, Dr. Koechler had criticised that “the public is kept in the dark about what Scotland’s Justice Secretary discussed at his meeting with Mr. Al Megrahi at Greenock prison, which was indeed an unprecedented step in Scottish legal history. One thing should be taken for certain, however: If Mr. MacAskill is a man of honour, he will not have made granting the prisoner’s request for ‘compassionate release’ conditional upon the latter’s dropping the ongoing appeal.”

Mr. Al Megrahi's defence counsel had lodged the request to abandon the appeal on 12 August 2009, just a few days after Mr. Al Megrahi's private meeting with the Justice Secretary (on 4 August). Al Megrahi was eventually released on 20 August 2009. How are these coincidences to be explained? What legal advice did he get from his defence counsel?

Dr. Koechler, who had written to the Justice Secretary prior to his decision, stressing that compassionate release must not be conditioned on Mr. Al Megrahi's dropping the appeal, said that Mr. MacAskill will have to clarify vis-à-vis the Scottish, British and international public the exact circumstances under which the appeal was dropped. He said that he shares the concerns expressed by Michael Portillo, a former Minister in the Department of Transport, who had asked in The Sunday Times: “If, as MacAskill says, there was no secret deal, then why did he visit the prisoner in jail?” He also said that he shares the suspicion of the former UK ambassador to Libya, Oliver Miles, about  the abandoning of the appeal being part of a covert deal.

It is ironic that Scotland's Deputy First Minister now says that "in many respects the Scottish Government would have preferred the appeal to continue" (according to The Times, 31 August 2009).  The termination of the appeal proceedings effectively means that the search for the truth within the proper judicial framework has been abandoned  and that the doubts raised by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission will never be addressed in a court of law, Dr. Koechler said.

Lockerbie observer mission of the International Progress Organization

International Progress Organization 
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