New document sheds light on Lockerbie Bomber’s release
Was the Lockerbie bomber guilty? Subsequent judicial examination casts doubt on the evidence at the trial.
- A prohibited document is leaked
- Why has the Crown blocked publication?
- Of course he did it, didn’t he?
- It’s a frame-up, Guv
- So, if not Megrahi, who dunnit?
- The political ‘dance macabre’ continues
A prohibited document is leaked
Last week, The Herald, Scotland’s leading newspaper, published extracts from a report it received recently from an unnamed source. Today, it has taken the brave move of publishing the whole 800-page report and risking possible prosecution under the Data Protection Act.
The report is from the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. The Commission is in favour of its publication. The Defendant in the case is in favour of its publication. The Scottish Parliament places no barrier on its publication. So why has it still not been published five years after it was written? Because the Crown Prosecution Service, as the other party concerned, refuses to grant permission!
Why has the Crown blocked publication?
Why should the instrument of justice refuse permission for the results of a case review to be published? Perhaps the second last paragraph of the report may shed some light:
“27.216. In accordance with the principles set out at the beginning of this chapter the Commission has also considered whether, notwithstanding its conclusion that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred, the entirety of the evidence considered by it points irrefutably to the applicant’s guilt. The Commission’s conclusion is that it does not.”
Ho hum, yes… but the applicant in question was no ordinary ‘criminal’ but the man who allegedly single-handedly perpetrated the worst terrorist atrocity of the 20th century: Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, ‘the Lockerbie Bomber’, who was ultimately released early ‘on compassionate grounds’, on August 20th 2009, to howls of outrage from many quarters, especially when he managed to cling on to life for a couple of years instead of the expected 3 months the cancer would permit…but he wished to have the full story told.
Of course he did it, didn’t he?
Before you switch off claiming that the evidence was clear, the guy was guilty and prison was too good for him, etc., consider some anomalies. Jim Swire, the father of one of the victims, has long campaigned for the case to be re-examined because he had doubts about Megrahi’s guilt. Other relatives have expressed similar doubts. Author James Ashton has risked public condemnation and infamy to write about the case and has now published a new book telling Megrahi’s story: ‘Megrahi: You are my Jury’. Eminent legal authorities in Scotland have long claimed a severe ‘miscarriage of justice’. Why should parents and relatives of the victims, journalists, and prominent members of the legal establishment all be questioning the verdict when they would much rather have closure?
The fact is that Magrahi’s trial was more political than judicial. It was a show trial designed to satisfy public outrage and the public (and of course the defense) were only shown what the US and UK governments wished to be seen – a simple join up the dots puzzle, regardless of whether the dots were real evidence or not. The Commission’s report shows just how little real evidence supported many of those dots.
It’s a frame-up, Guv
Could someone just be fitted up for a crime for political reasons, to defuse public outcry, save face? In the USA, not so many years ago, any black male abroad in an ostensibly white neighbourhood would have been arrested for the first crime to come over the Police radio, and without a second thought. He had to be guilty because of who he was and where he was. After a bombing by the IRA in Britain, a convenient group of people with Irish accents would be arrested so that the forces of law and order could be being seen to prevail. The alleged ‘culprits’ were people whom the public would accept as guilty without question – black, Irish, etc.
In the case of Megrahi, here was an Arab, a Libyan no less, who could be made to fit the bill. It didn’t matter, for instance, that the CIA had a totally different prime suspect, that Libya concentrated on being a facilitator for foreign terrorists, not on committing acts itself, that Megrahi’s supposed ‘identifier’ would have identified the Queen of England as the suspect if that would have got him the large reward he was seeking.
The report gave leave to Megrahi for a further appeal which was ultimately dropped on the dangled prospect of an early release in 2009. If the evidence was sound, why the prospect of early release, why the actual release ‘on compassionate grounds’, and why block publication of the report ever since it was complied five years ago?
So, if not Megrahi, who dunnit?
How one man, Megrahi, could have organized such an atrocity all on his own has never been adequately explained. The CIA had an extremist Palestinian splinter group, the PFLP-GC, very much in the frame. It was based in Syria and receiving support from both Syria and Iran.
The group had the means, the manpower, the connections and the zealous will, to carry out the atrocity. Two years before Lockerbie, the PFLP-GC's Syrian leader, Ahmed Jibril, had called a press conference warning that there would be "no safety for any traveller on an Israeli or US airliner", possibly as revenge for the US Vincennes mistakenly shooting down an Iranian passenger plane carry 290 pilgrims to Mecca. Two years on, it was easier to embarrass Libya than publicly to complicate the Palestinian situation even further.
For more details, see ‘New evidence in Lockerbie bombing casts doubt on Libyan involvement’
The political ‘dance macabre’ continues
While publicly stating that he was surprised, disappointed, and angry about the release of the Lockerbie bomber, in secret correspondence to Scottish Ministers, President Obama states that compassionate release was considered more palatable than locking up Megrahi in a Libyan prison.
Despite CIA evidence of Palestinian extremists’ responsibility for the atrocity, The US administration is now pressuring the new government in Libya to hand over Megrahi to its tender care. Perhaps it would like to resurrect Judge Roy Bean to demonstrate how show trials should be conducted.
Megrahi has prostate cancer that has spread to his bones. The condition is terminal and painful. Chemotherapy only delays the inevitable a little. If there is reasonable doubt that any of the key evidence on which he was indicted is unsound – and there is more than that - then he is entitled to be left to die in peace. Those seeking vengeance should be concerned about determining the truth so that they can target it on the rightful culprits.
Will the long-delayed publication of the report stop the US pressure, given that a Defence attorney could have a field day with the supposed ‘evidence’? Unlikely, while the US can offer Megrahi an indefinite stay in a well-known holiday resort at Guantanamo Bay, without having to bother with the rigmarole of a trial.
A copy of the Commission’s full report, slightly edited by The Herald to protect sensitive sources, is available here.
A few days ago, The Herald also published a summary of seven key points in the report that cast great doubt on much of the evidence chain.