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Hope for independent inquiry into Lockerbie

Hopes for an independent inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing were kept alive yesterday after the Scottish Justice Commission voted unanimously to keep the Justice for Megrahi (JFM) petition open.

If the committee had voted against today it would have been game over

The vote was “absolutely stunning” and “very significant,” according to Robert Forrester, a member of the JFM campaign group that lodged the petition in November 2010.

The petition calls for an independent inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the 1988 bombing of a US airliner over Scotland, which killed 270.

According to the prosecution, the suitcase containing the bomb left Malta on an Air Malta flight to Frankfurt before being transferred to another flight to Heathrow.

“If the committee had voted against today it would have been game over. But the ball is still firmly in court and now it is up to the Crown Office to produce the goods and show independence,” Mr Forrester said.

He added that JFM, which includes family members of those killed in the bombing, was buoyed by the Justice Committee’s unanimous vote in favour.

Mr Al-Megrahi, who always maintained his innocence, was convicted in a special Scottish court convened in the Netherlands in 2001.

He died of cancer in his native Libya last May after being released from serving a life sentence in Scottish prison on compassionate grounds in 2009.

JFM wrote to Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in September specifying six allegations (now eight) of criminal wrongdoing by named individuals involved in the investigation of the bombing.

It requested that Mr MacAskill appoint an independent body or individual to examine the allegations, given that some of them involved the Crown Office and Scottish police service.

This was done to “break the logjam that is currently blocking the request for an inquiry,” it said.

But a reply on behalf of Mr MacAskill in October informed JFM it would have to submit the allegations and evidence to Dumfries and Galloway police, which it did.

“The only option he gave us was to forward the evidence to the people the allegations were against,” Mr Forrester said, adding that JFM had heard nothing from the police for the past month.

“Today’s (yesterday’s) vote gives us hope and we now wait and see how the Crown Office responds.”

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