I.P.O. Information Service

Lockerbie appeal: miscarriage of justice

Court not in conformity with European human rights standards

Camp Zeist / Vienna, 15 March 2002/P/RE/17525c-is

 In interviews for BBC television and radio and for Dutch Television, Professor Hans Koechler, international observer at the Lockerbie Trial, stated yesterday that the decision of the Appeal Court in the case of Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed Al-Megrahi was not justified and did not properly take into account the contradictions and inconsistencies in the original verdict of the trial court. He spoke of a “spectacular miscarriage of justice” that occurred in the highly politicized context of the Lockerbie trial.

In additional remarks made after his return from Camp Zeist, Professor Koechler expressed the view that the handling of the appeal by the five judges demonstrated their bias towards the position of the prosecution as can be clearly seen from the 370 paragraphs of the Opinion of the Appeal Court.

Professor Koechler expressed the view that appeal proceedings are rendered meaningless if an  Appeal Court does not seriously deal with new evidence brought before it and does not examine the grounds of appeal in a careful and systematic manner, based on reason and common sense. He furthermore raised serious questions about the performance of Al-Megrahi’s defense.

 Professor Koechler stated that reference to the adversarial nature of the Scottish legal system can be no excuse for the total lack of fairness of the proceedings. Whether a legal system is of adversarial or inquisitive nature, whether we deal with a system based on Common Law or on Roman Law, the basic principles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms have to be respected in any court proceedings in member states of the Council of Europe having acceded to the Convention. 

Article 6 (1) of the Convention states that “In the determination of … any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. …” From the conduct of the trial and of the appeal it is obvious that these basic European standards, by which Scottish courts are legally bound, have been violated in the most serious and fundamental way in the proceedings of the High Court of Justiciary in the Lockerbie case.

 In his capacity as international observer nominated by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the basis of Security Council resolution 1192 (1998), adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, Professor Koechler had made a comprehensive report after the announcement of the original verdict of the Trial Court on 3 February 2001. He announced today that he will present a comprehensive report on and evaluation of the appeal proceedings and that he will submit his observations to the President of the United Nations Security Council and to UN member states.

 The International Progress Organization will make the report available to the international public at the proper time.

 END/ Lockerbie appeal: miscarriage of justice/15-03-2002/P/RE/17525c-is