Dead Lockerbie killer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi remains guilty of Britain’s largest-ever terror attack, appeal judges have ruled as the hunt for more plotters continues.
A third appeal against Megrahi’s conviction for the 1988 plane bomb in which 270 died was rejected, even though his family vowed to re-appeal.
The pre-Christmas bombing of London to New York Pan Am flight 103, resulted in Megrahi being jailed for life in Scotland in 2001, with a minimum term of 21 years.
His mass murder conviction was shortened after he became terminally ill and was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds.
The ex-spy returned to Libya where he died three years later and he remains the only person convicted of the attack.
Judges allowed his son, Ali to claim “no reasonable jury” could have returned a guilty verdict, on the grounds of non-disclosure of documents by the Crown.
But yesterday Scotland’s most senior judge Lord Carloway, the Lord Justice General, said: “The contention that the trial court reached a verdict that no reasonable court could have reached is rejected.”
He added: “On the evidence at trial, a reasonable jury, properly directed, would have been entitled to return a guilty verdict.”
Lord Advocate James Wolffe, QC, said: “After Megrahi was convicted in 2001 my predecessor as Lord Advocate, Lord Boyd of Duncansby, confirmed to the Scottish Parliament that the investigation into the involvement of others in this terrible crime would continue.
“I reiterate that commitment today.
“This work will continue, and there remain suspects under active investigation.”
In a statement the Megrahi family said: “Ali Al-Megrahi, the son of the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, said his family were left heartbroken by the decision of the Scottish courts, he maintained his father’s innocence and is determined to fulfil the promise he made to clear his name and that of Libya.”
Megrahi’s original trial was held in the Netherlands.
During the appeal hearing in November, advocate depute Ronald Clancy QC, for the Crown, argued trial court judges were fully entitled to infer Megrahi was involved in the Lockerbie bombing.
He said Megrahi’s use of a false passport to travel to Malta – from where the plane carrying the bomb left just before the atrocity – taken along with other evidence, suggested his involvement.
But Claire Mitchell QC, representing the Megrahi family, branded evidence in relation to his identification of “poor quality.”
Megrahi’s first appeal against his conviction was refused by the High Court in 2002 and was referred back five years later after an SCCRC review.
He abandoned this second appeal in 2009, shortly before his release from prison.
Meanwhile, the US Justice Department charged a “third conspirator” in connection with the bombing on the 32nd anniversary of the atrocity last month.
The US alleges Abu Agila Mohammad Masud Kheir Al-Marimi was the bombmaker and has charged him with terrorism-related crimes. He is in jail in Libya.
A second suspect, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, stood trial with Megrahi but was acquitted.