Sunday, 31 October 2010

Al-Megrahi 'pressured to abandon appeal'

[This is the headline over an article by Marcello Mega in today's edition of Scotland on Sunday. It reads in part:]

The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing was forced to abandon his appeal to secure compassionate release on the grounds of his terminal cancer, a justice department whistleblower claims.

Three senior sources close to Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, who has now exceeded the three months he was expected to live by more than ten months, have confirmed the whistleblower's version of events.

Megrahi suddenly dropped his appeal against conviction shortly after the Scottish Government announced he was to be released to return to Libya on compassionate grounds.

It was claimed at the time that the government had made the dropping of the appeal a condition of his release, in order to spare any damage to the reputation the Scottish justice system. The government has always denied the allegations.

The whistleblower's information appeared in an e-mail received last year by the Nationalist MSP Christine Grahame, who met Megrahi after viewing a documentary that convinced her of his innocence. She continues to lobby for justice for him. (...)

The e-mail reads: "The minister seemed set to do the decent thing, allow a dying man to go home and the appeal to continue. However the department has strongly intimated to the Libyans that if Megrahi is to be granted compassionate release he must first drop his appeal. This was the (sic) rammed home to the Libyans at their meeting with the minister yesterday.

"Megrahi is desperate and will do anything to get home, including dropping his appeal, as his prisoner transfer request demonstrates. The department knows it, as does the minister."

Megrahi has always protested his innocence, and the independent Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission had referred his case back to appeal.

The SCCRC found there were six grounds for believing that Megrahi's conviction might have been a miscarriage of justice. (...)

It seemed inexplicable that he would abandon his appeal, but sources close to Megrahi have now revealed the chain of events and have confirmed that he was given no choice.

One Libyan source confirmed the meeting mentioned in the e-mail took place.

He said: "Three senior Libyans, including the Minister for Europe Abdel Ati al-Obeidi, met with Mr MacAskill and it was made clear that things would be resolved speedily if he dropped his appeal.

"They left Edinburgh and went direct to Greenock to visit Baset and they told him he had no choice. In fact they gave him no choice. They told him the appeal would be dropped, but that he would soon be home.

"He was not happy about the appeal. Even after he dies, he does not want his offspring to be labelled the children of the Lockerbie bomber."

Two other sources who have maintained close contact with Megrahi since his return to Libya and have been told the story directly by him confirmed the chain of events.

One said: "A few months earlier he'd have fought tooth and nail not to abandon his appeal. But he really did feel so ill he was sure he must die soon and the desire to get home and die with his family round him overtook everything else."

Grahame said: "I suspected inappropriate pressure had been placed on Megrahi and these latest revelations appear to confirm that. This makes the case for a full and thorough public inquiry even more pressing."

A Scottish Government Spokesperson said: "We have absolutely no knowledge of any such e-mail. The Scottish Government had no conceivable interest in the appeal being dropped."

[The Sunday Herald runs a story headlined Government admits Megrahi always had 50/50 chance of living past three months. It makes the earth-shattering disclosure that "a key Government official has now revealed Megrahi stood a 50% chance of living longer than three months. George Burgess, the Government’s former deputy director of criminal law and licensing, who advised MacAskill, said the three-month figure was a 'median survival time', rather than the upper limit of Megrahi’s life expectancy. Median survival time is defined as the time at which half the patients with a disease are expected to be alive and half expected to be dead."


    sorry only in "Babylon" computer english language:

    Current: The Mirror writes today:
    Ink plot bomb was built to explode at 30'000ft,...revealed that the bomb discovered at East Midlands Airport on a US-bound cargo plane could have been set off in an atrocity similar to Lockerbie...

    EXPRESS CO.UK: Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed the bomb could have brought down an aircraft ... Had the plane exploded and crashed on Nottingham, Leicester or Derby, ­cities within a 10-mile radius of the airport, hundreds of lives would have been lost...

    Rough negligence of the 'FAA' ?
    It would have been highest obligation that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at latest after Al Megrahi dropped his appeal, insight into the 'SCCRC' 800-page report together with 13 volumes of appendices and the 'National Security' document (Pll) would have required !
    The Commission, in the published summary of its findings, indicated there were six grounds on which it had concluded a miscarriage of justice might have occurred.

    It is high time legally to know whether it in the "Lockerbie-Judgement" a miscarriage of Justice concerns, so that a new investigation can open the investigation authorities against unknown.
    By the wrong Scottish judgement against Al Megrahi and Libya remained the true airplane bombers in freedom and endanger further the Air Traffic !
    Scottish Parliament please push for independent inquiry to get at the truth of the bombing of PanAm flight 103.
    Justice for Al Megrahi and Libya.

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd., Switzerland
    our webpage:

  2. "Megrahi is desperate and will do anything to get home, including dropping his appeal, as his prisoner transfer request demonstrates. The department knows it, as does the minister."

    This is supposed to be part of the email from the whistleblower, the "very senior" person who had access to the top-level discussions about the case. But there's a fundamental mistake in it, as I understand the situation.

    Megrahi did not apply for prisoner transfer. The way the PTA was set up, he was barred from doing that. Only the Libyan government could make such an application. And indeed, Megrahi didn't even have a say in the matter. Libya applied in May 2009, the minute the PTA was ratified, even though there was an outstanding appeal, and even though compassionate release was also a live issue at that point.

    So I have a small doubt about just how high up this insider actually is.

    My take on all this is that the Libyan government wanted the appeal dropped just as much as the Scottish government. Because it wants to put Lockerbie and all its ramifications behind it, and doesn't want the can of worms opened again. And possibly because it has been made clear by the USA that the way to progress to a bright future of an oil industry is to make damn sure Megrahi stays labelled as the "Lockerbie bomber" and nobody has to start looking for anyone else.

    No comprendo a lot of this.

  3. I wonder about this too, Rolfe. However, if Libya wanted to play it "low key", why was al Megraghi welcomed home with such a noisy public celebration?
    Maybe the whole thing wasn`t micro-managed to the extent we in the west assume and the whole thing at Tripoli Airport was just a spontaneous celebration.
    Its seems to be quite significant that the Americans were quite forthright in their demand that there was no triumphalist celebration of the first anniversary of his release, but maybe there was none planned anyway.
    Libya`s general attitude now seems to be well summed up by Dr Suayeh in the article with the Maltese journalist above... “We always felt that Libya was wronged by the Lockerbie affair. We always wanted to be law abiding, and all that we hope for now, with this chapter behind us, is to foster better relations with everybody, hoping that truth prevails,” Dr Suayeh says. In other words "we`re not going to rock the boat but if others do it and are successful, then that will suit us too."

  4. I never assumed Megrahi's welcome was micro-managed. At the time, Libyan authorities said they'd tried their best to comply with the requests to make it low-key, but they simply couldn't stop people showing up in a public place. Megrahi is a member of a prominent, influential tribe, and most of those present were said to be his relations to one degree or another.

    It was compounded by there being some sort of youth rally going on in Tripoli at the time (can't remember the exact details), so there were a lot of potential revellers close to hand to come in and revel.

  5. Regarding the Herald story quoted, I distinctly remember Kenny MacAskill at the time of the release saying "he may die sooner, he may survive longer."

    This becomes "now revealed...." just how, exactly?