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Lockerbie bomber seeks to drop second appeal

[JURIST] Convicted Pan Am Flight 103 [BBC backgrounder] bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi [BBC backgrounder] on Friday asked the Scottish High Court of the Judiciary [official website] to allow him to withdraw the second appeal [Reuters report] of his 2001 conviction. Megrahi, recently diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, is seeking a transfer [BBC report] to his native Libya, a process that cannot be completed while legal actions are pending. Libya had petitioned the Scottish government to transfer Megrahi in May, as part of a prisoner transfer agreement with the UK. Speculation that Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill [official profile] would honor an August request that Megrahi be released on "compassionate grounds" to serve the remainder of his minimum 27 year sentence in Libya prompted criticism [transcript] from US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton [official website], Syracuse University [press release] and families of the victims [Independent report]. The Scottish Government urged restraint [Times report], saying that MacAskill had not yet made a decision on the matter.

In November, the High Court denied [JURIST report] Megrahi's request to be released on bail during the appeals process. Lawyers for al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer, were denied access in March 2008 to a "missing document," that they had sought [JURIST reports] in appealing his conviction. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) [official website] granted an appeal [JURIST report] in al-Megrahi's case in June 2007 and referred it the High Court after the commission identified six grounds [press release, PDF] for a possible "miscarriage of justice" in his trial and conviction. In 2003, Libya made its final compensation payment [JURIST report] to a US fund for victims' families in November 2008 after agreeing to accept responsibility [US DOS press release] for the 1988 airline bombing that killed all 259 on board [victims website], including 180 Americans.

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