US begins Lockerbie compensation transfer

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The Independent US

American relatives of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing were today accused of closing their minds to the possibility of a miscarriage of justice.

The charge came from former MP Tam Dalyell as the Lockerbie saga reached another milestone.

The US has begun transferring more than 500 million dollars in Libyan compensation money to the families of American victims of the 1988 Pan Am bombing.

Mr Dalyell, who is convinced of the innocence of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, serving a life term in a Scottish prison for the bombing, said developments in the case often saw some but not all US relatives asserting that Megrahi should die in prison.

"This would be understandable if there were not the gravest doubts about whether he has anything to do with this crime that bereaved these relatives in the first place," said Mr Dalyell. a former Labour MP.

"But I recognise that the pressures from some very vociferous relatives in the States are huge.

"They have shut their minds to the possibility that the court could have carried out a miscarriage of justice."

A US official said 504 million dollars - £321 million out of 536 million dollars (£338 million) to be distributed to the families was moved from the Treasury to a private account administered by their lawyers on Friday.

The money comes from a 1.5 billion dollar (£956 million) fund for US victims of Libyan-linked terrorism that Libya finished paying into last month.

The official said the remaining Lockerbie cash will be transferred in coming days, along with 283 million dollars for the US victims of a 1986 attack on a Berlin disco.

Megrahi, 56, who is terminally ill with cancer, is awaiting an appeal hearing in Edinburgh.

His lawyers last week told a court hearing in Edinburgh that there was a "compelling case" for him to be released on bail pending the appeal, and a decision on this is expected at a later date.