UK blocks official report into Lockerbie bombing

Written by: Abdul Nisar
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London, Dec.12 (ANI): British Government authorities have blocked the publication of an official, 800-page dossier detailing the Lockerbie bomber's grounds for appealing against his conviction.

The decision to keep the report secret has fuelled claims by families of victims of the terrorist attack that the release of Abdelbasset Ali al-Megrahi was rushed through to prevent his appeal, which was due to be heard in public, going ahead, The Telegraph reports.

The blocking of the report follows revelations last week contained in leaked US diplomatic cables that Britain believed lucrative oil and finance deals with Libya would be scrapped if Megrahi died in jail.

The Sunday Telegraph also revealed that the Government has turned down a call by relatives' victims for a public inquiry.

In a letter, obtained by the paper, British Foreign Secretary William Hague declared it would "not be in the public interest" to order such an inquiry.

Megrahi dramatically dropped his appeal last summer and was then told he would be released from prison on compassionate grounds.

Scottish authorities claimed he had only three months to live, although Megrahi has now survived for almost a year and a half since that diagnosis.

The report into his conviction conducted by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which looks into alleged miscarriages of justice, will remain locked away after Megrahi, the police, and other authorities could not agree on its publication.

All parties involved have to give 'unqualified consent' for it to be made public. It is not clear which parties - including the police, the Foreign Office and Megrahi himself - vetoed its publication.

The SCCRC investigation is the most comprehensive into the worst terrorist atrocity ever committed in mainland Britain in which 270 people were murdered when Pan Am flight 103 blew up over the town of Lockerbie in Scotland on Dec 21, 1988.

The main report runs to more than 800 pages with a further 13 volumes of appendices.

The SCCRC recommended in June 2007 that Megrahi should be granted a second appeal hearing following a four-year investigation into the case against him.

It identified six grounds "where a miscarriage of justice may have occurred" and referred the case to the court of appeal in Scotland. It includes evidence not made available to Megrahi's defence and which is still to be made public. (ANI)

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