Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Dr Swire on the prisoner transfer issue

The following letter from Dr Jim Swire is published in today's issue of The Herald:

'A recent newspaper article claims that Mr Blair's already publicised "memorandum of understanding" (as Whitehall decided to call it) was really negotiated to secure a huge contract for BP in the Libyan oil industry.

'Readers will remember that even without knowledge of a cynical commercial reason for the agreement, there was concern as to its effect on Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi's position, and anger at the failure to consult the Scottish Government.

'We now hear Jack Straw has admitted that Megrahi's transfer to Libya to serve the rest of his sentence for the Lockerbie bombing was essential to the completion of the deal.

'The Crown Office maintains there is no question of Megrahi being allowed to be repatriated while his second appeal is in process. It is clear this appeal could not proceed without embarrassing revelations emerging over evidence led at Zeist, and in the view of many, the prosecution case would fail.

'Megrahi is determined to clear his name. What is to stop the Crown now abandoning the case, thus serving "the national interest" (as exemplified by the Libya-BP deal)?

'At the last hearing in Edinburgh High Court the prosecution were still not prepared to divulge the contents of a document (from abroad) to the defence. This failure would be likely to mean that the court would have to declare a fair appeal impossible. Already the Crown were talking of obtaining public interest immunity (PIIs) certificates to "protect" the document from being divulged.

'Lockerbie relatives have bitter memories of threats of PII certificates being prepared against us. If the Crown abandons the case, or if the court cannot proceed without the document, Libya, Whitehall and BP would all be delighted. Abandonment would presumably result in the verdict being declared unsafe and overturned, in view of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission's published view that the Zeist trial might not have been fair.

'Scotland, her government and her justice system would have been used as an expendable tool to achieve a politically, and now commercially, convenient stitch-up. The relatives would see that their legitimate interests in seeking to find out who really murdered their loved ones and why their families were not protected, had again been treated with cynical derision, this time on the altar of profit.

'Have we really sunk so low?'


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