Lockerbie Verdict to be Issued Wednesday
The Scottish court trying two Libyans charged with the murder of 270 people in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing will announce its verdict on Wednesday, reported the BBC.online Tuesday.
Judge Ranald Sutherland, one of the three Scottish judges hearing the case, said the court would meet Wednesday at (1000 GMT) to give the verdict, said the BBC.
It will bring down the curtain down on 84 days of courtroom drama in which Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, alleged as Libyan secret agents, are accused of putting an unaccompanied suitcase bomb on a flight out of Malta tagged for transfer via Frankfurt onto a New York-bound Boeing 747 at London Heathrow airport.
If they decide that both suspects are guilty of downing Pan American Flight 103 over Scotland's southwest on December 21, 1988 the judges will pass a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, said the news service, adding that it only takes a 2-1 majority for a conviction.
There are important differences between Scottish law and criminal procedures of English and American courts. If found guilty, there will be no death sentences passed since the maximum sentence under Scottish law is life imprisonment. Life imprisonment is the prescribed punishment for murder or contravention of the Aviation Security Act (1982). If convicted, the Libyans would serve their prison sentence in special cells which have, CNN reports, already been built in Scotland. A second key difference is that Scottish law allows a verdict of “not proven” in addition to the familiar guilty and not guilty verdicts.
“Not proven is one of the oddities of Scots law," Glasgow University law lecturer, Clare Connelly, was quoted as saying in a previous report by Albawaba.com.
"The not proven verdict has the same effect as a not guilty verdict, namely, the accused is acquitted and cannot be tried again for the same crime. It usually means the judge or jury thought the accused was guilty but not beyond reasonable doubt."
Not guilty or not proven verdicts would leave the US and UK with an embarrassing failure after imposing years of isolation on Libya through United Nations sanctions, according to the BBC.
It would also leave grieving relatives of the victims with no answer to 12 years of questions why and how the terrorist act was carried out.
Many of the relatives, both from the USA and the UK, told the news service that regardless of the trial outcome they still want to see a full public inquiry held into the tragedy.
The prosecution has alleged that it has proved "beyond reasonable doubt" that the men in the dock are guilty.
It said the evidence clearly showed that al-Megrahi and Fhimah worked together to plant an unaccompanied suitcase containing a bomb packed inside a radio cassette recorder on board a Frankfurt-bound Air Malta flight at Malta's Luqa airport.
The defense counsels closed their case abruptly after bringing only three witnesses against 230 for the prosecution.
The defense accused Palestinian organizations of carrying out the bombing, probably on behalf of Iran in revenge for the shooting down of an Iranian civilian Airbus earlier in 1988 by the American warship USS Vincennes, sad press reports -- Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)