- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2002

CAMP ZEIST, Netherlands A Scottish appeals court yesterday upheld the murder conviction of a former Libyan intelligence agent for bombing Pan Am Flight 103, a ruling that increased pressure on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to admit responsibility and compensate the victims' families.

The court's rejection of the appeal by Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi brought to a close a 13-year police and judicial saga, but left unanswered the question of who ordered the bombing that killed 259 persons on the plane and another 11 on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland. Most of those killed were Americans.

The five-judge court ruled unanimously that the prosecution's circumstantial case against Megrahi was convincing, and said the defense had offered no arguments to undermine the conviction.

"None of the grounds of appeal is well founded," said the presiding judge, Lord Cullen. "The appeal will accordingly be refused."

Megrahi was expected to be transferred within hours to a prison in Scotland from Camp Zeist, where he had been held since his extradition on April 5, 1999.

Some victims' relatives in the public gallery applauded when the verdict was read.

Megrahi's wife broke down when the verdict was announced, and was led from the public gallery wailing in grief.

The Libyan Foreign Ministry described the decision as a "political verdict" and vowed to continue efforts to free Megrahi. The former agent "was convicted for political reasons and … will be considered a political captive according to international law and codes," the statement said. Ministry spokesman Hassouna al-Shawish said defense attorneys would appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

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