Mon, Jun 25, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Edinburgh reviews Lockerbie airline bomber's conviction

AFP , LONDON

A commission reviewing the conviction of a Libyan jailed after an airliner was bombed over Scotland in 1988, killing 270 people, is considering claims that police "reverse-engineered" evidence of his guilt, the Sunday Times reported.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, now 55, was convicted of blowing up US Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988, over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland.

The Libyan agent was sentenced to jail for 27 years at a special court in the Netherlands in 2001.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates potential miscarriages of justice, will publish a report on a three-year probe into his case on Thursday.

Quoting unnamed sources close to al-Megrahi's defense team, the paper said the commission was looking at a file claiming that evidence gathered at the scene was lost or destroyed before false evidence was presented to incriminate him.

The file claims the police probe into al-Megrahi had been "reverse-engineered" with evidence provided to match the allegation that he was guilty, the Sunday Times said.

The report is also likely to include claims by al-Megrahi's lawyers that statements by a man who sold clothes that were later found wrapped around the bomb were withheld by prosecutors, it added.

These statements are believed to implicate a figure who is linked to the Iranian-backed group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, the paper said.

The UK resumed diplomatic ties with Libya in 1999 after Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi agreed to hand over al-Megrahi and another suspect, also a former intelligence officer, who was later cleared.

The commission has conducted a lengthy review into al-Megrahi's conviction.

It also has the option to either refuse his application or refer it to the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh, where it will be looked at again.

The commission's report runs to a total of 800 pages, but will not be made available to the public. A summary will, however, be published on the commission's Web site.

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