World

Lockerbie bomber loses appeal, life sentence stands

Former Libyan agent loses appeal in Lockerbie flight 103 bombing

A former Libyan intelligence agent lost an appeal Thursday against his conviction in the 1988 bombing of a passenger plane that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland.

A Scottish appeals court ruled that Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, 49, was responsible for the bomb that caused the crash of Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988. Two Canadians were among the 270 people killed.

He was found guilty of loading the bomb-laden suitcase onto a flight from Malta, which was then transferred to the New York-bound Pam Am flight.

Al-Megrahi had received a life sentence in January, 2001, but his lawyers brought new evidence into his appeal.

However, five Scottish appeals judges hearing the case at a special court in the Netherlands were not swayed.

In the ruling, presiding Judge Lord Cullin said "We all concur that none of the grounds of the appeal are well founded."

Many families of the British victims can now push for an independent inquiry into what they say was their government's failure to protect their loved ones.

But American Peter Lowenstein, whose 21-year-old son Alexander died on Pan Am Flight 103, said he's delighted by the final verdict.

"It's not going to change the fact that my son is dead," said Lowenstein."But it will at least make me feel a little bit better that justice was done."

Some Libyan and Tunisian lawyers disagree. They called the verdict political, not legal, and said al-Megrahi is going to go to the European Court of Human Rights to get his conviction and life sentence overturned.

But for Scotland lead advocate Colin Boyd, the verdict was a hard won triumph. The trial, said Baid, is what can be achieved when the international community acts together.

Al-Megrahi's co-accused, Libyan Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima, was acquitted in the initial trial.