A senior human rights lawyer has called for an independent inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing as controversy intensifies over the convicted bomber’s early release on medical grounds.
Alan Miller, the head of the Scottish human rights commission, said there were still significant doubts about the guilt of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi after an independent investigation uncovered new evidence that undermined the conviction.
Miller said that the UK government should release a secret intelligence report that the Scottish criminal cases review commission said could — on its own — have been enough to have freed Megrahi on appeal. It was withheld at his trial.
The document is believed to cast serious doubts on prosecution claims that Megrahi used a specific Swiss timer for the bomb. The release of the document was banned in 2008 by then-British foreign secretary David Miliband, leading to a lengthy legal battle by Megrahi’s lawyers which ended when the Libyan abandoned his appeal because of his terminal cancer.
The Scottish government has come under renewed attack for freeing Megrahi a year ago on the grounds that he was close to death from inoperable prostate cancer and had only three months to live.
Miller said the row over Megrahi’s medical status was an “undignified and unhelpful distraction” from the more important issue of addressing unresolved questions about his guilt.
On Thursday it emerged that Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Noam Chomsky are among the signatories of a petition calling for an inquiry into the case.
The transatlantic row over the Libyan’s release made the case for stripping ministers of the final decision on compassionate release even stronger, Miller said. A panel of judges should be appointed to independently assess whether a prisoner should be freed early.