(295) LORD ADVOCATE LODGES APPEAL AGAINST LOCKERBIE BOMBER’S SENTENCE
On 18 December 2003 the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC lodged an appeal against the punishment part sentencing of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber. Megrahi is currently serving a life sentence for the Lockerbie bombing, following his conviction at the High Court sitting at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in 2001 and on 24 November 2003, at a hearing in Glasgow, the High Court ordered that he serve a ‘punishment part’ of 27 years before he would be eligible for consideration for parole (see No 282). In appealing against this decision the Lord Advocate is challenging the view of the Court that 30 years is the maximum punishment part which could be imposed on an individual. He is also arguing that the period of 27 years in this particular case is unduly lenient. In keeping with the Convention Rights (Compliance) (Scotland) Act 2001, legislation enacted to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights, all prisoners serving a life sentence must be brought before the High Court so that the Court can determine the minimum period which they must serve as a ‘punishment part’ before they are eligible to be considered for release on licence by the independent Parole Board for Scotland. This legislation replaced the previous procedure under which the sentencing Court could recommend a minimum period before which the prisoner should be considered for release on licence, but under which release was ultimately a question for Ministers. Under the law now in force a life prisoner cannot be considered for release on licence until he has served the punishment part period; his release thereafter is a matter for the Parole Board for Scotland, which requires to consider the risk which he may present to the public.