Saturday, 7 August 2010

Still haunted by the scale of slaughter that was perpetrated at Lockerbie

[This is the headline over a letter from Fred McManus in today's edition of The Herald. It reads in part:]

I was a police inspector serving in Strathclyde Police B Division when the Lockerbie mass murder occurred. Strathclyde mobilised huge resources to support Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary in the management and investigation of this outrage.

Officers were sent from each territorial division of the force, but inspectors initially went only from alternate divisions – A, C, E, G and so forth – and so I thought that I would play no part in the massive operation. I was wrong.

Several weeks into the inquiry, it was decided that the bodies of each of the victims, including their individual limbs, should undergo X-ray examination. Two teams of police officers were established to facilitate this. I was in charge of the night shift team, working from 6pm-6am, and spent three nights in the Lockerbie temporary mortuary opening the caskets, removing the bodies and washing them before each was taken for X-ray examination, after which they were replaced in their caskets with all due dignity and respect.

My team of experienced officers were initially visibly distraught but got on with the job, as good police officers do. I was particularly impressed by the courage and stoicism of the radiographers, some of whom were young girls who looked about 19, in carrying out their duties.

Out of respect to all concerned I will not go into detail, but I will say that the experience left me with the passionate view, as strong today as it was almost 23 years ago, that those responsible had forfeited the right to be considered human and to be treated accordingly. I regard myself as a decent, compassionate man, but to this day I firmly believe that whoever perpetrated this atrocious mass murder, made even more disgusting by the cowardly means of its slaughter, should be afforded no compassion whatsoever, Christian or otherwise.

At this moment in time, as upon his release, the one person who stands convicted, proven beyond reasonable doubt in a Scottish High Court, as guilty of this inhuman act is Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi. Perhaps, and I emphasise perhaps, as some of your readers clearly believe, there is a prima facie case that he was not responsible. It also appears self-evident that he did not act alone. But until the due process of law shows otherwise, he is guilty of this most heinous and horrible mass murder. Having seen at first hand, and in graphic detail, the effects of Megrahi’s wicked criminality, I share the Americans’ outrage that he should have been released for any reason other than vindication under that due process.


    computer translation, german/english

    A letter was written to the Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill in July, 2009 by Lord David Trefgarne, a peer in the British House of Lords and chairman of the trade group, the Libyan British Business Council, confirm a unknown deal with Mr. Al-Megrahi for withdraw his appeal and notify the Court accordingly; was made before 17 July 2009, that confirms, before the visit of Secretary of justice Kenny MacAskill on 5 August '09 ...

    Obviously with al-Megrahi was a entire Deal ready on 9 July 2009 ! The House of Lords needed only a person, who took the responsibility and the expiration of the transfer. In sekretary of justice Kenny MacAskill one found the responsible persons...
    By the way Mr Al-Megrahi knew since 9 July 2009, his Appeal can be normally continued after a Transfair to Libya.

    Question: What was that deal for the withdrawal ?

    Answer: MEBO believes.
    behind the surprising release of the innocent Mr. Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, did not stand an "BP-Oil Deal" nor the ''Prisoner Transfer Agreement" (PTA) with Libya, but the FEAR of Scotland's and Great Britain's, before the result and open secrets of the current Appeals (miscarriage of justice in 6 points) and the following damages compensation from Libya up to 40 billion US$!

    For this a legal mission the secretary of Scottish Judiciary, Kenny MacAskill, needed from Mr. Megrahi, the dropping of the successful promising "Lockerbie-Appeal" and a medical certificate for a maximum 3 months life span. The truth is: The "Lockerbie-Affair" (not the PanAm 103 tragedy) was a US~UK~CH conspiracy against Libya!

    An independet judicial review into the Lockerbie bombing is now essential, so that an investigation can begin after the true client

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd., Switzerland

  2. Interesting take, proper, but sort of broken.

    "...until the due process of law shows otherwise, he is guilty..."

    I understand that legally, for legal decisions, that has to stand. But IS is such a big word. This kind of thinking will cause one to forget important qualifiers like "legally established"

    "...Having seen at first hand, and in graphic detail, the effects of Megrahi’s wicked criminality..."

    "...I share the Americans’ outrage that he should have been released for any reason other than vindication under that due process."

    There is outrage over here, but I don't perceive much of it coming from that Megrahi was not cleared in court. The Americans are so fundamentally invested in his guilt that I doubt they'd accept an overturned verdict on any grounds. "It must be some small technicality is all..."

  3. Mr McManus makes reference to a Herald letter from a few days before (need to scroll down the page a wee bit to find it)...
    George Devlin’s letter

  4. Mr McManus,
    I understand your disgust but in not taking a rational look at the facts of the case and the new evidence you may be causing further damage.

    Megrahi may not be in a situation in which he's free to prove his innocence and being subjected to such articles as yours and Brian Flynn's must be awful.

    Surely, he's suffered enough having been incarcerated for years thousands of miles away from his home for a ghastly crime he did not commit.

    Your faith in the judiciary system is quite naive. There can be little doubt that verdict reached by the three judges was political.
    I fail to apprehend how these three men went about their daily business aware of the minute by minute agony suffered by Megrahi.

  5. There is an unfortunate approach taken by many politicians and legal people that its just fine as long as we've got a conviction. The safety of the conviction is secondary for them. Mr McManus was a policeman and there are many examples among that profession also that a conviction is all that counts. I'm sorry to say that but there you have it. His language in the letter, the "beyond all reasonable doubt" stuff, even knowing the amount of doubts already heaped on that verdict, suggests a mindset in keeping with that of our politicians and many in the legal profession: that mindset says the truth is irrelevant. Again I am horrified that so many are so indifferent towards the part justice plays in any of it.

  6. .......the other part of his letter which I find troubling is the arrogance of that "Perhaps, and I emphasise perhaps, as some of your readers clearly believe, there is a prima facie case that he was not responsible........" sentence. He doesn't even discuss it further! Just one little sentence the implications of which he dismisses with alarming indifference. He is saying, as far as I'm concerned, that the doubts don't matter. He may be concerned with "outraged Americans". This outraged Scot is very happy Mr McManus isn't a polis any more given the lack of interest he seems to have in that important issue at any trial, evidence.

  7. The full text of his letter in the Herald includes this final paragraph

    "If I may be permitted one brief observation on Mr Devlin’s comments on America as “world policeman”: just wait until the time, in the not too distant future, when it is China, not the US, that is the world’s great superpower. We may well all have cause to look back to America with longing."

  8. When SCCRC says "Retrial!" a conviction is not a conviction, as the legal process is not completed.

  9. I'm no expert sfm. We would need to consult the Professor. My understanding however is that the original verdict stands alone and will continue to unless any subjequent Appeal Process was completed. If, as in this case, the appeal process is not completed then the original verdict stands.

    Unless of course we decide to fully investigate the grounds under which the SCCRC passed this case back to the Court of Appeal. In my view that is how our politicians and judiciary should wish to proceed. A potentially unsafe conviction for a crime of this enormity cannot just be left unexplored by any honourable judiciary or the Parliaments of the UK you would think? Well think again. Because our politicians and our judiciary don't want it discussed. They want that possibly unsafe conviction, and all talk of it to die, preferably with Megrahi, preferably very soon.

  10. I think I feel another letter coming on....

  11. Rolfe, you're making me laugh here. I have no children of my own but the children of my two sisters, who are now grown up and very familiar with my tendency to spout opinions, often speak that very sentence when controversy strikes. They will say, "Uh-oh, bet Auntie Jo feels another letter coming on!"

  12. Do you think they'll wear 420 words, or should I trim it a bit?

    Do you think pointing out that the CIA and the US DoJ solicited perjured evidence (from Giaka) to implicate Megrahi is going too far?

  13. Rolfe, they'll get nervous about the perjury bit. They might spike the whole thing.

    If you can try and get it down to under 400 hundred just to give yourself the best chance. They do make exceptions of course, like they did today with the letter from Fred MacManus mind.

  14. Yes, I haven't quite decided about that. He did commit perjury though, directly solicited by the US Department of Justice, who were simultaneously bribing and threatening him. This is totally shocking, and not nearly well enough publicised.

    I could probably find a roundabout way to say it - at the cost of more words! It shouldn't be necessary in such a clear-cut situation though.

  15. He was the one whose testimony was completely thrown out yes after being worked on for months by these agencies? He was the one cables were sent about?

  16. Yes.

    They did bribe the Gaucis, that's for sure. Bunntamas talked about the $4 million reward offered by the FBI, but that was nothing to do with the Gaucis, who had already been identified by the police as witnesses 3 or 4 years before that offer was made.

    The reward was offered after the indictments were issued on Megrahi and Fhimah, while they were holed up in Libya not being extradited. However, there were rumours they occasionally travelled out of Libya under cover, to countries where they could be snatched or extradited. The $4 million was bait to persuade someone to tip off the FBI when that might be happening so they could close in, but no information of that nature was ever received.

    However, Paul Gauci knew about that reward offer, and realised there was money in this if Tony could be coached to identify the right person. He didn't quite succeed, but it was good enough for these biassed judges, so they got their money - though not till after the trial.

    I call that bribery, right enough.

    However, the Giaka thing was much more blatant. Giaka had been talking to (and been paid by) the CIA since September 1988. They'd asked him for information relating to Lockerbie on a number of occasions over the years, but he had none to tell them. However in July 1991 they summoned him to Malta and told him there was a meeting set up with the DoJ, and they wanted evidence to implicate Megrahi and Fhimah in Lockerbie. The DoJ told him straight, pony up with information to that effect, or you're out on your ear without a penny, and by the way we won't even pay your fare back to Libya. (I'm paraphrasing Paul Foot here.)

    Giaka promptly came up with this amazing fairy story about seeing Megrahi and Fhimah at Malta airport that morning with a bronze Samsonite suitcase, and smuggling it past customs. At which point a US naval vessel whisked him off to a new life in America, with a new identity and a thumping big DoJ reward. All before the court case.

    He told the tale in court, but because Megrahi's lawyers got the cables admitted in evidence (they were trying at that point!), the whole sordid story came out and his evidence was struck out.

    The blatant bribery is shocking, but equally shocking is that the court took no sanction against the prosecution for actually lying to them to try to conceal the evidence that Giaka wasn't credible. And didn't get even slightly suspicious about any of the other tall tales the prosecution were advancing.

  17. Jo, I just changed "perjured evidence" to "fabricated evidence". It will probably frighten the horses less. However, there is no question that Giaka committed perjury at the trial, and did this for money, because the Department of Justice virtually forced him to do it.

    Even more shocking is that on my reading of the proceedings, Colin Boyd committed perjury when he assured the court that there was nothing in the full transcripts of the cables that could have any bearing on Giaka's credibility. It's possible that there's some weasel-wording there, as Prof. Black quotes his exact words, but the plain meaning of what he says is that the redacted parts of the cables are only about US national security and do not cast any doubt on Giaka's credibility.

    This was a lie, and said in a statement to the court, and even if he wasn't formally under oath at the time, I'd call it perjury.

    But he didn't get even a rap on the knuckles for it, not even a mild rebuke, and the judges went on to believe everything else he alleged as if it was written on tablets of stone sent from on high.

    How can anyone read this stuff and not be completely outraged?

  18. I saw the quotes from Boyd on the Professor's site. To illustrate my own approach I was thinking "This must be another Boyd, not Colin Boyd, because if Colin Boyd misled the court in that way he would have been out of a job." I then re-checked and indeed it was Colin Boyd who had acted so against the interests of justice. Shocking enough. But that he was not severely dealt with for doing it is even more shocking.

  19. I don't know what our journalists are playing at. Even if we do get an article questioning Megrahi's guilt, it always goes off on shredded babygros and that timer fragment and allegations tht the bombing was known about in advance.

    A proper exposition of the Giaka question, and then of the circular reasoning whereby each dodgy piece of supposition was deemed to be fact because another piece of dodgy supposition was deemed to be fact, in a perfect circle, would be a positive public service.