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Top lawyers join Lockerbie appeal dream-team
08/08/2001 *** updated: 02/09/2001
This page will keep you informed about the latest development in the hiring of several top lawyers to join the Lockerbie appeal team
See the pictures - read the interviews - get the inside information
Come and join the discussion: Is it fair to let Scottish taxpayers finance the luxury haircut of a prisoner abroad ?
Or shouldn´t all Scottish inmates receive the same super-service as al Megrahi did ?
Opinion poll: Will Al Megrahi win his appeal ?
Top team to fight Lockerbie appeal
THE SCOTSMAN - A TEAM of the world's most formidable lawyers has been hired to bolster the appeal to free the convicted Lockerbie bomber. Internationally renowned US human rights lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, and Michael Mansfield QC, the legal brain behind the Birmingham Six and Bridgewater Four appeals, have joined forces to work behind the scenes on the appeal to free Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who was convicted in January of the bombing atrocity after a trial costing £66 million. American experts Frank Rubino and Plato Cacheris have also been hired as members of the team, as well as several British, Scottish, Swiss and Maltese experts (full list below).
The basis for the appeal will centre on allegedly flawed evidence collected on the night of the bombing and will question the ability of the judges to have assessed a mass of conflicting evidence and the reliability of two key witnesses in the trial.
Writing in today's The Scotsman, Harvard legal Professor, Alan Dershowitz says: "After reading the decision of the three-judge trial court, I became concerned not only that the legal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt had not been met, but that the wrong person may well have been convicted of the crime and the real mass murderer may not have been charged." Prof Dershowitz was appointed to study the verdict and make recommendations for appeal by Dr Ibrahim Legwell, the Libyan lawyer in charge of Megrahi's legal team.
The basis for the convicted bomber's appeal is revealed today in an interview with Dr Ibrahim, who, in a detailed report for The Scotsman, claims that full copies of the lawyers' opinions on the trial verdict were taken into account by Megrahi's Scottish solicitor, Alastair Duff. Duff, who last month submitted a detailed eight-page summary of his grounds for appeal to the Crown Office, has met regularly with Legwell in Scotland and Holland.
Dr Legwell, who is currently in Holland meeting with Megrahi, said last night that his client now had the support of some of the finest minds in the legal world and he was confident of winning his appeal. He said: "With the full consent of my client, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, I have helped gather together an international team of lawyers who share the belief that a miscarriage of justice was carried out when my client was found guilty of the bombing. "I can also confirm that each of the lawyers has played a vital part in the appeal process by contributing their own assessments on the flaws surrounding the verdict." He added: "I have directly passed on these suggested grounds for appeal to the Scottish solicitors representing my client and it is true to say the international team identified many gaps.
"The two groups also found many things in common with each others' findings and the whole process was of great benefit to the submitted appeal."
The addition of Mansfield, and Prof Dershowitz will add tremendous weight to the credibility of the Libyan's case for freedom. Harvard University law Prof Dershowitz was recently described by Newsweek magazine as "America's most celebrated civil liberties lawyer and defender of individual rights". Megrahi's case is being orchestrated by a consortium of Libyan lawyers who have secured financial aid from the Libyan government.
The appeal process has also received huge public support in Libya, where Megrahi is widely perceived as a political prisoner. Last night, Dr Legwell claimed his legal team were anxious to speed up the appeal process. A spokesman for the Crown Office said it was "unlikely" Megrahi's appeal would come up this year.
NOTE: After reading this article in THE SCOTSMAN, lawyer Ibrahim Legwell wrote a letter to the newspaper, protesting allegations that the financial aid for Megrahi´s defence came from the Libyan government. That letter was påublished a few days later in THE SCOTSMAN:
"I write with regard to your re-porting of the appeal lodged on behalf of Abdel Basset Megrahi with regard to his conviction for murder following the destruction of the Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie in 1988.
I am directing the defence in my private capacity as chairman of the Consortium of Libya Law-yers, which has no connection with or responsibility to the government of Libya. The funds to finance the defence have come in the normal way through legal aid, which operates in Libya in much the same way as it does in the United Kingdom.
I was most grateful to you for giving so much space and attention to the necessity for the ap-peal to be heard, and for justice under a Scottish court to be clearly seen to be done. However, in your front-page report (8 Aug-ust) you stated that the Libyan lawyers had secured financial aid from the Libyan government, which is not actually the case. There is no government in-volvement in the defence.
This is a battle to establish the innocence of one man, Abdel Basset Megrahi, and getting justice for him is the only criterion. The funds have been provided solely from the normal legal aid operation."
Sixth September Street
Lawyer: confident Megrahi will win appeal and go free
The Libyan lawyer in charge of the Lockerbie bomber's appeal says he is confident his client will walk free. Dr Ibrahim Legwell spoke out after it was revealed he had hired a team of top lawyers from across the world to help prepare Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi's case. American human rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz and British QC Michael Mansfield are among the legal experts who have agreed to work behind the scenes on the appeal. A further six lawyers have also been enlisted and Dr Legwell says he is delighted they have agreed to help.
Speaking from London, he said: "There are definite aspects which show there has been a miscarriage of justice and I am very confident that we will be able to turn over his conviction." Professor Dershowitz is America's foremost civil rights lawyer and was a member of the legal team which helped OJ Simpson escape a murder conviction. Michael Mansfield is well known for his work on behalf of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four. Most recently he represented Barry George, who was convicted of murdering Jill Dando. Among the other western lawyers enlisted by Dr Legwell is Clive Nicholls QC, who represented the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet during his extradition hearing at the High Court.
Dr Legwell said he expected to have further discussions with the lawyers before the formal appeal hearing, which is now expected to take place next year.
Top QC joins Lockerbie bomber's appeal team
August 9, 2001 - The Guardian (UK)
A leading British barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, has joined the appeal to clear the Libyan man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in which 270 people died, it emerged yesterday.
The human rights lawyer is among an international group of legal experts who have been appointed to work on the appeal against the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi. His legal team lodged formal grounds for his appeal in mid-June.
Mr Mansfield, well known for his work on behalf of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four and more recently for representing Jill Dando's killer Barry George, is one of eight lawyers working on the appeal. The Libyan lawyer in charge of Megrahi's case, Ibrahim Legwell, said yesterday he was confident his client would be freed.
"I sent them a copy of the verdict and the transcripts of the trial and asked them for their views and analysis. I wanted to know what western lawyers thought about the verdict. "Their replies gave me the confidence that we can go ahead with the trial with confidence in the western judicial system. There are definite aspects which show there has been a miscarriage of justice and I am very confident that we will be able to turn over his conviction." He said he expected to have further discussions with all the lawyers before the formal appeal hearing, which is now expected to take place next year.
Alan Dershowitz, America's foremost civil rights lawyer who was a member of the legal team which helped clear OJ Simpson of murder, is also understood to have been hired. Clive Nicholls QC, who represented the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet during his extradition hearing at the high court, is also understood to be involved.
Dr Legwell regularly visits his client in his cell at Camp Zeist and said that although Megrahi is "suffering" he is confident that he will be able to prove his innocence. He said: "He wanted to go to Camp Zeist because he wanted to have a fair trial and clear himself of this crime. It's very important to him and his family."
The New Republic, Notebook August 20, 2001:
SUPREME INJUSTICE: Hard as it is to believe, Alan Dershowitz--champion of Claus Von Bulow, Leona Helmsley, Jonathan Pollard, and O.J. Simpson- -may have just signed on to his worst case yet. It's the case of convicted Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, whose legal team Dershowitz has joined for al-Megrahi's appeal. Several things make Dershowitz's latest crusade unusually repellent, even by his standards.
First, there is Dershowitz's O.J. defense--namely, that in fingering al-Megrahi, "the wrong person may well have been convicted of the crime and the real mass murderer may not have been charged." If so, perhaps Dershowitz can explain away the mountain of evidence tying al-Megrahi to the bombing. There is, for starters, the fact that al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence operative, was in the Malta airport, traveling on a phony passport, on the day the bomb was loaded there, and the fact that a Malta shop owner identified al-Megrahi as the person who purchased the clothes found in the suitcase that contained the bomb.
Then there are Dershowitz's past statements: his accusation that various other Jews are, as he referred to one target, "apologists" for "enemies of Israel and the Jews" and his declaration that "we ought to be going after people like Qaddafi." Such bombast seems particularly rich given that Dershowitz will be working hand in hand with a consortium of Libyan lawyers funded by the Libyan government. Make no mistake: Dershowitz can defend whomever he wants. But, please, spare us any more observations along the lines of "Every time I attend a gathering of Jewish children ... I imagine SS guards lining up these children for the gas chambers." Evidently the children lining up to board Pan Am 103 don't evoke such a vivid image. "Dershowitz is just despicable," laments Susan Cohen, whose daughter died on Pan Am 103. We have nothing to add.
New members of the team: who are they ?
From America, Frank Rubino, who represented General Noriega; Plato Cacheris, who represented Monica Lewinsky; the acclaimed Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who acted for OJ Simpson, and Michael Armstrong, the lawyer for boxing champion Hasim Rahman.
The British arm of the team features Michael Mansfield QC, best known for his role in the Stephen Lawrence case; Clive Nicholls QC, who acted for General Pinochet; Lord Ivor Richard QC, the former Labour leader of the House of Lords and UN ambassador for Britain; Antony Smith, the world- acclaimed Cambridge law professor; and Stephen Mitchell of Needleman-Treon. They will be aided by Julian Knowles as junior counsel.
In Malta, the team includes the island's two most powerful lawyers, Mario De Marco, son of the island's president, and Emmanuel Mallia. They are joined by the Swiss aviation lawyer, Dieter Neupert. The Scottish team centres on William Taylor QC and Alistair Duff, Megrahi's solicitor.
The new members: introduction
If Michael Mansfield QC worked in the United States his profile would probably be on a par with OJ Simpson's flamboyant lawyer, Johnny Cochran. The fact that British court proceedings are held entirely off camera has reduced his fame but not his earning power.
A dapper figure, who belies his age - he is 57 - his kudos among lawyers is legendary and his success rate in civil liberties cases second to none. A twice-married father-of-six, Mr Mansfield was brought up in a middle class family in Finchley, north London - Lady Thatcher's old seat. An idealistic teenager in the jazz and beatnik era, he chose to read philosophy but soon realised his life lay in the law. After passing his finals he hesitated, applied to emigrate to Australia and worked as a dustman, but eventually succumbed to the call of the law.
Called to the Bar at the age of 26, he rapidly established himself as one of the most promising young lawyers of his generation. His early reputation was as a defender of the indefensible and his big break came in 1972 when he defended one of the alleged leaders of the Angry Brigade, an English anarchist group which bombed several ministers' homes. Mr Mansfield superbly undermined the key scientific evidence and his client, Angela Weir, walked free. The following year he defended two sisters accused of an IRA bombing at the Old Bailey which had destroyed his own car. He established his own chambers in 1984 and was made a Queen's Counsel five years later.
Mr Mansfield, who lives in a stylish corner of Tooting in south London, made his name in a succession of high profile cases in which he helped highlight numerous miscarriages of justice. The Birmingham Six, alleged IRA bomber Judith Ward,Tottenham Three and the Bridgewater Four established his reputation as a fierce anti-establishment cavalier in the mould of the US civil rights lawyer Clarence Darrow. The legal establishment saw his brilliance and offered him a art-time judge's job, which he turned down. He said at the time: "I might have taken the step if I'd felt I'd fulfilled the role that I have tried to play, which is to represent and articulate on behalf of groups that don't find ready representation."
Politically he is old Labour and such is his disillusionment with the Blairite tendency he donated £1,000 to a candidate for Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party before the last general election. Mr Mansfield represented many miners caught up in the 1984/5 Miners' Strike and also met his second wife, Yvette, during the same dispute. She was at the Orgreave coking works making a film about the strike. He identifies closely with left-wing film-maker Ken Loach and told the Independent on Sunday in 1997: "Ken is trying to stay true to a principle; his is in celluloid and mine is in words."
Mr Mansfield is a busy man. He has set up a human rights centre in Brussels, is organising a law project in London which is designed to provide US prisoners of Death Row UK lawyers, and is a frequent legal and moral pundit in the media. Tooks Court in London, founded by Mansfield in 1984, brings together barristers who share two basic aims, increased access to the law for the most disadvantaged & the highest quality of representation for all.
Then there are the books. His first, Presumed Guilty, came out in 1994 and was followed by a novel, The Inquest, in 1997, which he is hoping will be turned into a film. He wrote the latter - about a Boeing 747 which explodes over London - after tapping into his experiences as an advocate for the Hillsborough and Marchioness families.
But while he is a proponent of the bereaved, the unjustly incarcerated and the poor he is no stranger to wealth. Mr Mansfield's legal bills came under the spotlight last year when a parliamentary inquiry was told top criminal barristers should earn no more than £200,000 a year from legal aid. He regularly charges £200 per hour and can earn up to £60,000 on one appeal.
Mr Mansfield has given up full-time advocacy to pursue his other interests. Now he has found the time to join the appeal team of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi.
Lockerbie evidence 'fatally flawed' says QC - interview with Mansfield on the Lockerbie trial issue (1997) Michael Mansfield on the Pan Am 103 evidence in BBC programme "Silence over Lockerbie" (1997) Go to the Pan Am 103 book store to se more about Michael Mansfield´s books
Alan Dershowitz was born in Brooklyn, graduated from Yeshiva University high school and Brooklyn College. At Yale Law School, he was first in his class and editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. After clerking for Chief Judge David Bazelon and Justice Arthur Goldberg, he was appointed to the Harvard Law faculty at age 25 and became a full professor at age 28, the youngest in the school's history. Since that time, he has taught courses in criminal law, psychiatry and law, constitutional litigation, civil liberties and violence, comparative criminal law, legal ethics and human rights. He has lectured throughout the country and around the world -- from Carnegie Hall to the Kremlin.
In 1983, the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith presented him with the William O. Douglas First Amendment Award for his "compassionate eloquent leadership and persistent advocacy in the struggle for civil and human rights." In presenting the award, Nobel Lauriate Elie Wiesel said: "If there had been a few people like Alan Dershowitz during the 1930s and 1940s, the history of European Jewry might have been different." He has been awarded the honorary doctor of laws degree by Yeshiva University, the Hebrew Union College, Monmouth College, and Haifa University. The New York Criminal Bar Association honored Professor Dershowitz for his "outstanding contribution as a scholar and dedicated defender of human rights."
Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School has been described by Newsweek as "the nation's most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer and on of its most distinguished defenders of individual rights." Time magazine, in addition to including him on the cover story on the "50 Faces for the Future," called him "the top lawyer of last resort in the country -- a sort of judicial St. Jude." Business Week characterized him as "a feisty civil libertarian and one of the nation's most prominent legal educators." He has been profiled by every major magazine ranging from Life ("iconoclast and self-appointed scourge of the criminal justice system"); to Esquire ("the country;s most articulate and uncompromising protector of criminal defendants"); to Fortune ("impassioned civil libertarian" who has "put up the best defense for a Dickensian lineup of suspects"); to People ("defense attorney extraordinaire") and to New York Magazine ("One of the country's foremost appellate lawyers").
More than 50 of his articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine Book Review, and Op- Ed Pages. He has also published more than 100 articles in magazines and journals such as The Washington Post, The New Republic, Saturday Review, the Harvard Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal.
Professor Dershowitz continues to play basketball, regularly attends Boston Celtics home games, and occasionally comments on the Boston sports scene.
Interview with Dershowitz on his new job (Forward (USA), August 17, 2001) This Time It´s Personal - interview with Alan Dershowitz from 1999
Dershowitz Doubts Pan Am Conviction
WASHINGTON (AP 08/08/2001 ) -- Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, hired to help in an appeal, said Wednesday he has doubts about the conviction of a Libyan intelligence agent in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. In a telephone interview, Dershowitz said he has been hired as a consultant by a British law firm for an appeal on behalf of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Scottish court last January.
Dershowitz said he has questions about the reliability of an eyewitness account that alleged al-Megrahi bought incriminating items of clothing in Malta two weeks before the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. In an opinion piece published in Wednesday's edition of The Scotsman, an Edinburgh daily, Dershowitz wrote that he is concerned ``not only that the legal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt had not been met but that the wrong person may well have been convicted of the crime.'' In the interview, he said that when the appeal is heard, probably later this year, he will not be in court.
Dershowitz represented several Palm Beach voters in the dispute over the Florida presidential vote count. He also helped O.J. Simpson in 1995. He is known for his frequent commentaries on legal issues
Susan Cohen, a New Jersey woman whose daughter was killed in the Pan Am 103 bombing, accused Dershowitz of working for Libyans. Her husband, Dan Cohen, said the hiring of Dershowitz and others was part of a ``high-priced operation coming out of the Libyan government'' ``The aim is to spread propaganda,'' Mrs. Cohen said in an interview. She said she believes al-Megrahi was guilty.
Apprised of the comments, Dershowitz said, ``I have the same interest as Susan Cohen. I want to find out who did this. If they fail to prosecute the correct person, it serves no one's interest if the wrong person has been prosecuted.'' Dershowitz said he could not recall the name of the British firm that hired him as a consultant.
Flaws in the Lockerbie prosecution case -
Dershowitz´ describes main points of doubt in Lockerbie verdict in THE SCOTSMAN (08/08/2001)
Clive Nichols QC is a London barrister from the UK. He is currently Head of Chambers at 3 Raymond Buildings law firm in London and has been a member of the defence team in the extradition case against former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet. Mr. Nichols is a barrister since 1957 whose practice over the last 15 years has been almost exclusively in extradition and.human rights, appearing for 28 governments and fugitives in many parts of the world including USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Hong.Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, South.Africa and Europe. He has appeared in most of the leading extradition cases in England, including over 15 in the House of Lords and Privy Council.
Other areas of practice have included aviation,shipping and defamation. He took part in the extradition case of the Air India bombing suspects (case. ag. Canada) which involved the collection of evidence in Japan and examination of witnesses in Hong Kong. he took also part in the case In.re.Nielsen..AC.606 (Denmark vs. UK.(for.government)) the landmark case on extradition law overturning 88 years of international practice.
Mr. Nichols is the British Delegate to the International Law Association Committee on Extradition and Human Rights and he is the Co.Founder and Chairman of the International Criminal Law Association.
Plato Cacheris is the head of his own law offices in Washington DC and Alexandria, Virginia. The Law Offices of Plato Cacheris is a small litigation firm specializing in white collar criminal defense. Members of the firm have represented prominent individuals and corporations in numerous high profile investigations, including Watergate, Abscam, Iran-Contra, "Ill Wind" Pentagon fraud, Wall Street insider-trading, BCCI, and the Monica Lewinsky matter, among others.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 22, 1929, Cacheris himself was educated at Georgetown University (B.S., Foreign Service, 1951; J.D., 1956). Phi Delta Phi. Trial Attorney, Foreign Agents Registration Section, 1956-1958 and Criminal Division, 1958 -1960, U.S. Department of Justice. First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Virginia at Alexandria, 1960-1965.
He is a amember of : The District of Columbia Bar; Bar Association of the District of Columbia; Alexandria (Virginia) and American Bar Associations; Virginia State Bar; National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; The Barristers; The Counselors; The Lawyers Club. Fellow: American College of Trial Lawyers; International Academy of Trial Lawyers (Chairman, Federal Criminal Procedure Committee, 1995-1998 ); American Board of Criminal Lawyers. [1st Lt., USMCR, 1951-1953].
His main areas of practice is Criminal and Civil Litigation. He speaks fluently greek.
Legend in the Law - interview with Plato Cacheris (The Washington Lawyer, November 2000) Plato Cacheris - The Courtroom Impressario (Time Magazine, June 6,1998) Plato Cacheris´ official website
Born May 4, 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Frank Rubino is a well known American lawyer with more than 26 years of legal practice behind him. Mr. Rubino has tried cases in federal courts all over the United States. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, and all lower courts. He also has tried many high profile cases. He was lead counsel for Manuel Antonio Noriega of Panama and others named herein.
Some years ago, Rubino has successfully argued on behalf of the government of Libya before the World Court at The Hague in the Netherlands (the extradition vs. Montreal Convention-trial).
He has been a featured lecturer at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Seminars and meetings, The American Bar Association, the Academy of Trial Lawyers and many local and state bar association seminars.
Frank Rubino´s official website
Emmanuel Mallia LP, LL.D. - Emmanuel Mallia L.P. LL.D. is the founding member and Partner of the Firm. He read law at the University of Malta and was conferred the degree of LL.D. in November, 1978, on completion of a thesis entitled ‘The Proper Law of International Contracts’. Emmanuel Mallia is widely regarded by colleagues as Malta’s foremost advocate in Criminal Law. Emmanuel Mallia is a Lecturer and Examiner of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure at the University of Malta as well as the Academy of the Malta Police. He is also a director of London Services Limited (AVIS Malta) and the Secretary General of the Rent-a-Car Association of Malta.
Mario De Marco, son of the Maltese president, has a master degree in law. (more to follow)
Barrister Julian Knowles -is acting junior council in the new defence team. A devoted fan of Manchester United FC, Julian Knowles is a graduate of St Paul's High School, Manchester; Balliol College, and Oxford (1990 BA Hons). He was called to the bar (Inner Tempel) as a barrister in 1994 and is a member of the Criminal Bar Association and the Administrative Law Bar Association. Julian Knowles has specialized in public law, extradition, human rights law and criminal law.
Professor Antony T.H. Smith LL.M. (Cantuar), LL.D. (Cantab.); is a well known law professor from Cambridge University in England. He is a Barrister (Middle Temple); Barrister and Solicitor (New Zealand); he teaches at Gonville & Caius College, where he is professor of Criminal and Public Laws, as well as Chairman of the Faculty Board and Degree Committee.
His main areas of expertise in criminal law and justice arejudicial development and codification.
In constitutional law: overlap with criminal law.
In civil liberties: freedom of speech.
Dr. Dieter W. Neupert is a well known Swiss aviation law expert from the firm Neupert and Partners, situated in Zurich, Switzerland. Mr. Neupert, born in 1942, also advised Lockerbie trial witness Edwin Bollier in his criminal case against the Scottish Crown regarding falsification of evidence.
Dr. Neupert has a law degree from the University of Zurich (1969). His doctor degree was received the same place in 1976. He has also a honorary doctor degree (Dr. h.c.) from the technical State University of Aserbajdjan, Baku. His main fields of law lie in the areas of aviation, banking, tax and foreign investment. Dr. Neupert himself holds both a pilote certificate for fixed wing aircrafts, as well a a licence for helicopters and he has received a promotion to the the rank of colonel in the Swiss Air Force in 1993.
He is a member of the Board of AeroSuisse and the Secretary General (now chairman) of the European Business Aviation Association Switzerland. he is furthermore head of the Swiss Aviation Arbitration Court, legal councel to the Swiss helicopter Association and member of various international sports organising committees in the topic of sailing. On a personal level Dr. Neupert is a Board Member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Switzerland.
Letter from Neupert to Crown, dated July 11, 2000 Letter from Neupert to crown, dated March 2000