[What follows is excerpted from a report published in The Guardian on this date in 2002:]
The Libyan intelligence agent who murdered 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing experienced his first night in the Scottish jail cell where he will spend the next 20 years last night after his appeal was thrown out by five judges.
Only hours after the appeal court judges announced that they had unanimously rejected Abdel Baset al-Megrahi's appeal on all grounds, the Libyan responsible for the biggest act of mass murder in British history was flown to his specially constructed cell in Glasgow's Barlinnie prison. (...)
Hans Köchler, one of five United Nations observers who followed the Lockerbie case, last night described the dismissal of Megrahi's appeal as a "spectacular miscarriage of justice".
Professor Köchler, who teaches philosophy at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, said:"I am at a loss to explain how this decision of the appeal court can have been passed unanimously in light of some of the questions asked and analysis presented by one or other of the appeal court judges during the appeal," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Newsdrive programme.
For the American and British relatives who have spent the 13 years since their loved ones died campaigning and pushing for justice, yesterday was a monumental day. In the courtroom, they hugged each other. Some shouted "yes".
Jim Swire, leader of the UK Families Flight 103 group, said it was time for the government to make good its promises and hold a public inquiry. "This is not a time for celebrating," he said. (...)
During three weeks of argument at the Camp Zeist courtroom, defence lawyers claimed that key evidence - notably an identification of Megrahi by a Maltese shopkeeper - was unsafe. They also brought new evidence of a break-in at Heathrow, where the defence claimed the bomb was planted, hours before the bombing.
The verdict was met with anger in the Arab world. Outside the court, Hafid Jhoja, president of the Libyan bar association said: "The trial was a political matter, not a legal matter. There was no clear evidence, as the whole world knows."
In Tripoli, a foreign ministry spokesman demanded the return of Megrahi, but, away from the media grandstanding, Colonel Muammar Gadafy's regime is being more subdued as the diplomatic process to bring it back into the international fold continues.
American relatives of those who died have launched a multimillion dollar civil action against the Tripoli regime. Sources close to the civil case have told the Guardian that Libyan lawyers have become more conciliatory since Megrahi's conviction last year and the Arab country appears prepared to meet the demands of the international community and pay compensation to the families of the victims.
In London, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, said he hoped the appeal court's decision would bring solace and comfort to the families.