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Lockerbie appeal to be televised

The Lockerbie bombing killed 270 people  

CAMP ZEIST, Netherlands -- The appeal by the Libyan convicted of mass murder in the Lockerbie plane bombing will be televised as well as shown over the Internet, a court official has said.

The appeal by Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, convicted last year of mass murder in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, will be held on January 23.

The Lord Justice-General, Lord Cullen, gave permission to the British Broadcasting Corporation to televise it after hearing an application.

It will be the first time that court proceedings against the Libyan intelligence agent will be allowed to be shown to the general public on TV.

The cameras were not in court when he was convicted of killing 259 people aboard the plane and 11 on the ground in 1998 and sentenced to life imprisonment at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands despite an application by the BBC.

The broadcast, which will also be shown by Scottish Television, will not be live on television, but it will go out unedited over the Internet.

The TV coverage will be shown in news broadcasts and documentaries, a BBC spokesman said.

"The BBC very much welcomes this decision," he added.

In-Depth: Lockerbie trial 

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said the authority granted by Lord Cullen will be subject to a protocol which has been drawn up to ensure broadcasters follow the strict guidance established by the Scottish Court.

There will be a number of restrictions placed on broadcasters, including a ban on the televising of any evidence taken from witnesses during the appeal hearing.

Dr Jim Swire, spokesman for UK Families Flight 103 and who lost his daughter Flora in the explosion, said the news would be most appreciated by the U.S. families, many of whom would be anxious about flying to the Netherlands in the wake of September 11.

Al-Megrahi's co-defendant at the original trial, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted.

Al-Megrahi's appeal will be heard by five Scottish judges sitting in the special court. His lawyers say they plan to bring fresh evidence during the appeal, which is expected to last about three weeks.

The Lockerbie trial was made possible by a deal involving the United States, Scotland and Libya which brought the two Libyan suspects to a neutral country where all sides were satisfied they would get a fair trial.

Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed en route to New York on December 21, 1988, by a suitcase bomb.

Those killed aboard the plane included 179 Americans. The 11 people killed on the ground in Lockerbie died when the burning wreckage of the plane rained down on their homes.


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