A petition calling for an independent inquiry into the case of the Lockerbie bomber will be continued, with the next Scottish Parliament now set to consider the matter.
It comes after MSPs on Holyrood’s Justice Committee opted not to close a petition brought forward by the Jim Swire, the father of one of the Lockerbie victims, and others in the Justice for Megrahi campaign.
The petition, lodged at Holyrood more than a decade ago in November 2010, calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to set up an independent inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi – the only man convicted for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988.
A total of 270 people were killed in Britain’s largest terrorist atrocity, with Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer, found guilty of murder in 2001 and jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years.
With Holyrood set to finish up later this month ahead of May’s Scottish Parliament elections, the Justice Committee had to decide if the petition should be kept open to be considered by the next parliament, or if it should be closed.
Their meeting came after judges rejected a third appeal against the conviction of Megrahi, who died in Libya in 2012 after being granted compassionate release for his terminal cancer.
The bomber’s son, Ali al-Megrahi, was granted permission to proceed with the appeal but the family said they were “heartbroken” in January, when judges ruled “the contention that the trial court reached a verdict that no reasonable court could have reached is rejected’”.
A statement from the family said that they remained “determined to fight for justice”, with plans to take the case to the UK Supreme Court.
Green MSP John Finnie, who has been a member of the Justice Committee since 2011, said the possible appeal to the Supreme Court was “only one factor we need to consider”.
He added: “There are live criminal inquiries, both by the Scottish, UK and US authorities. This remains very much a live issue.
“This is unfinished business. It doesn’t matter what people’s views are on the innocence or otherwise of Mr Al Megrahi. I happen to think the man is innocent, but that is immaterial in relation to ongoing matters, of which there are several.”
SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said the petition had been kept open in the past, pending the outcome of legal matters.
She added: “It would seem to be inconsistent, when we hear there is possibly an appeal pending to the UK Supreme Court, that we would take any other action than simply keeping the petition open.”
Likewise, Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur said with the “very real possibility” of an appeal to the Supreme Court, the petition should be carried over to the next session of the Parliament.
Committee convener Adam Tomkins said all MSPs who had spoken on the issue had signalled “that this is a petition which should remain open”.
As a result, he said: “It is the decision of the committee not to close it at this point.”
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