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Scottish Appeals Board to Review Lockerbie Bomb Conviction

FILE - Lockerbie airline bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, left, who was released from prison on compassionate grounds because he was terminally ill, boards an airplane accompanied by Libyan officials at Glasgow airport, Glasgow, Scotland, Aug. 20, 2009.

Scotland's criminal appeals body said Thursday that it will review the case of a Libyan man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, as his family tries posthumously to clear his name.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission said it has decided "that it is in the interests of justice" to review the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi over the bombing, which killed 270 people.

Al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988, killing all 259 people aboard and 11 on the ground. Many victims were American college students flying home for Christmas.

Al-Megrahi lost one appeal and abandoned another before being freed in 2009 on compassionate grounds. He died of cancer in 2012, still protesting his innocence.

Review Commission chief executive Gerard Sinclair said al-Megrahi abandoned his second appeal "as he held a genuine and reasonable belief that such a course of action would result in him being able to return home to Libya, at a time when he was suffering from terminal cancer." He said "on that basis" the commission considered it right to review the conviction.

The review commission will decide whether to hand the case to an appeals court.

Al-Megrahi's family is seeking to overturn the murder conviction, citing concerns about the evidence, including doubts about the timer alleged to have detonated the bomb.

Family lawyer Aamer Anwar welcomed the decision, saying "the reputation of the Scottish law has suffered both at home and internationally because of widespread doubts about the conviction of Mr. al-Megrahi."