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Africa

Freed bomber launches website to claim his innocence

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-19

The man convicted for the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, has launched a website and posted hundreds of pages of documents in a bid to "clear his name" over the 1988 atrocity in which 270 people died.

AFP - The freed Lockerbie bomber released documents online Friday which he said support his claim that he is innocent of the 1988 bombing of a plane over Scotland, which killed 270 people.

Scotland's top law officer strongly criticised the move, saying Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi had chosen the "selective publication of his view of the evidence in the media".

Megrahi dropped an appeal against conviction over the atrocity shortly before he was released from a Scottish jail last month on compassionate grounds, because he is dying of prostate cancer.

Hundreds of pages of documents prepared for the appeal, by Megrahi's Scottish lawyer Tony Kelly, were published on the website: http://www.megrahimystory.net/.

"I have returned to Tripoli with my unjust conviction still in place," said the Libyan, who is in a hospital in Tripoli.

"As a result of the abandonment of my appeal, I have been deprived of the opportunity to clear my name through the formal appeal process. I have vowed to continue my attempts to clear my name," he added in a statement.

"I will do everything in my power to persuade the public, and in particular the Scottish public, of my innocence. Through my website I have published the material which featured in the first full hearing of my appeal."

Megrahi, 57, was admitted to hospital at the start of September, less than a fortnight after his release when he was given less than three months to live.

The former Libyan agent is the only person convicted of the murder of 270 people in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988.

His release, ordered by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, triggered fury from the US administration and families of the 189 US nationals who died.

Megrahi insists that he sympathises with the victims' families.

"I hope that this can assist in the understanding of my case, especially for those who have been most profoundly affected by it," he said in the statement issued by his lawyers.

More documents will be put online in coming days. "Mr. Megrahi hopes to continue to publish details of his appeal challenge in the course of the forthcoming weeks," said a spokesman for Megrahi's lawyers.

Scotland's Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini, said she deplored the manner of his attempt to challenge his conviction after he had abandoned his appeal.

"The only appropriate forum for the determination of guilt or innocence is the criminal court," said Angiolini, who is responsible for prosecutions in Scotland.

She said that if the appeal had come to court, Scottish prosecutors were "ready, willing and able" to argue the case for his conviction in the appeal which Megrahi dropped.

"Mr Megrahi was convicted unanimously by three senior judges following trial and his conviction was upheld unanimously by five judges, in an Appeal Court presided over by the Lord Justice General, Scotland's most senior judge.

"Mr Megrahi remains convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity in UK history," she said.

A Scottish government spokeswoman underlined that Megrahi's release had been on compassionate grounds and had nothing to do with his conviction for the bombing.

It added that it had studied what other documents could be released with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC).

"Mr. MacAskill made his decision to grant Mr Al Megrahi compassionate release to return to Libya to die based on the due process of Scots law. He also made clear that he supports the conviction," she said.

The United States this month warned Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi to be mindful of American sensitivities over the Lockerbie bombing when he attends his first UN General Assembly in New York next week.
 

Date created : 2009-09-19

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