Monday, 16 August 2010

Lockerbie: grandstanding and hypocrisy in the Senate

[This is the heading over an article by English lawyer Michael House in The Polemecist section of the Weekly Hubris website. It reads in part:]

It appears that there are elections to the US Senate coming up.

New England senators are working themselves up into a lather over the release of “Lockerbie bomber” Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. Apparently, his release by the Scottish authorities was only acceptable if he died within three months of his release. But the treacherous bastard is still alive, 12 months later. Now, the grandstanding senators are trying to link his release with BP’s attempts to penetrate the Libyan oil market. Not a scrap of evidence to support the hypothesis, but that will not stop vote-grubbing senators trying to link the two major villains on the planet today—British Petroleum and al-Megrahi. Happily, their impertinent demands that British politicians appear before their kangaroo-court committee have been rebuffed.

The senators might like to consider the following facts:

Mr. al-Megrahi is almost certainly innocent, and was convicted on the tainted and confused evidence of a Maltese shopkeeper who was paid at least 2 million dollars for his evidence. Dr. Jim Swire, who lost a daughter at Lockerbie and has relentlessly pursued the truth ever since, is convinced al-Megrahi was wrongly convicted. (...)

Part of the deal for al-Megrahi’s release was for his appeal to be abandoned. This was essential for the Scots, because it was highly likely that his conviction would have been quashed, causing enormous embarrassment to the Scottish judicial system.

The Montreal convention of 1971, created under the UN-linked International Civil Aviation Organization, stated that the suspects in the bombing of flight PA 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, should be tried in Libya. The US used its muscle to orchestrate UN sanctions to force the surrender of the suspects to a British or American court. The result of those sanctions was the death of thousands of Libyans suffering from serious medical conditions who could not be air-lifted abroad. Over 700 Libyans died in ambulances en route to neighbouring countries. It is estimated that 1,135 stillbirths and 514 maternal deaths occurred as a result of shortages of medicines, vaccines and serums. The figures are confirmed in a UN report of 1998. An estimated 16,000 Libyan deaths resulted from the US’s bully-boy tactics. All evidence suggesting that the bombers were Syrians was ignored.

Even if al-Megrahi was guilty, where is the moral distinction between his alleged act and the actions of the USAF in trying to murder Gaddafi in a bombing raid on Tripoli that killed 59 people in 1986, or of the captain of the USS Vincennes, who shot down Iran Air flight 655 in 1988, killing 290 passengers and crew, including 66 children?

Senators in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.


  1. Channel 4 devoted a considerable amount of time in its 7.00pm programme to a leading neurologist who claimed Megrahi could survive for years yet.

    The "will die within three months" phrase was given several outings during the piece.

    The man questioned why no chemo had been given in Scotland. He also named other more advanced drugs now on the market and declared these would possibly add years to Mr Megrahi's life.

    He claimed it was an embarrassment that any government went with three months to live and that no doctor could predict this in any case. And just for good measure Channel 4 also claimed that other doctors involved say they didn't make such a prediction in the first place.

    The biggest issue I had with the piece was that they gave a short summary of Megrahi's history but failed utterly to mention the grounds to believe a miscarriage of justice could have taken place at the trial.

  2. Was just having a look at the medical records again and in Autumn 2008 they were thinking along the lines of 18-24 months.

  3. Oops, re first post, that should be urologist, not neurologist. (He was a very bad speaker.)

  4. and Jo G you would have noticed that the urologist was so ignorant of Scottish affairs he thought Gordon Brown had something to do with the release. I had always thought better of Channel 4, but not of BBC Scotland, who this morning have picked up on the story, as usual spouting the words "the Lockerbie comment" without qualification.

    By the way the London-centric Mole on The First Post is also running with it.

  5. Ewan, I agree with your assessment of Channel 4 and I too was surprised that it was so one-sided last night. They're normally more balanced.