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Libyan Agent Appeals Conviction - 2001-10-15


The Libyan man convicted of the mass murder of 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing case is back in court to begin his appeal. Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi is appealing the life sentence he received in January for blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

While defense lawyers for convicted Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi have not yet made public their grounds of appeal, they say they have new evidence.

It concerns a security officer whose 1989 interviews with investigators were never, say defense lawyers, turned over to prosecutors or disclosed to them.

The security office was not named. But a former security guard at London's Heathrow airport reportedly has said he discovered a break-in at Pan Am's baggage facility early on the day of the doomed flight.

Flight 103 left from Heathrow on December 21, 1988. But al-Megrahi's conviction is based on evidence that the bomb was planted in Malta and traveled to Frankfurt, Germany, before finally making its way on to flight 103.

Judges still have to rule if they will accept that new evidence. But once the appeal begins on January 23, it is expected to last no longer than three weeks.

Earlier, a Spanish woman living in New York also appeared before the five appeals judges making an extraordinary request to be part of the proceedings.

Marina de Larrachoechea's sister, Maria, was a flight attendant on Pan Am Flight 103. She told judges the prosecutors did not present all their evidence and she wants it independently reviewed. Although sympathetic, judges denied her request, saying this court is limited only to the defendant's appeal.

But like many other relatives of the victims, Ms. de Larrachoechea believes the Lockerbie trial failed to get at the full truth of what happened to Pan Am Flight 103.

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