Sunday, 26 December 2010

Megrahi verdict is the key issue

[This is the heading over a letter from Dr Jim Swire published in today's edition of Scotland on Sunday. It reads as follows:]

[T]here is a far more important issue than questions about the release of Megrahi, found guilty at Zeist of the Lockerbie bombing.

For so many who have heard and studied the evidence led against him, and the performance of his defence team in that court, the verdict looked untenable under any recognisable form of Scottish criminal law. It is hard to believe that a Scottish jury could ever have convicted him. Could 15 sufficiently naive Scots have been found? I doubt it.

"Reasonable doubt" was left unanswered at so many points, yet it is supposed to be necessary to exclude it entirely before a criminal guilty verdict is reached. He was not securely identified as the buyer of clothes in Malta, nor was there any proof that he breached security at Malta airport. It was only afterwards that we learned of the break-in at Heathrow, a far more likely route to the doomed plane's hold than Malta ever was. Only afterwards did we learn that the Scottish investigating police knew before the case came to court that the Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci who "thought Megrahi looked like the clothes buyer" and, who was a key witness, knew that Megrahi's conviction would land him a prize of $2,000,000. Why did the police not tell the court that?

Let's review the verdict and see if it stands, rather than continue to rabbit on about his release which many, myself included, think was the right and responsible move for Kenny MacAskill to make.

If all the commentators on this ghastly case had been crammed into the court's public gallery, I think they would be raging for a review of the verdict, not endlessly discussing his release. If the verdict was unjust, as so many believe, what must the real culprits think of Scotland now? Some of us want to be sure about who killed all those people. It's Scotland's call.

1 comment:

  1. "Reasonable doubt" was left unanswered at so many points, yet it is supposed to be necessary to exclude it entirely before a criminal guilty verdict is reached.

    Too true. The SCCRC was rather conservative I think, but commendable in being level with what they did take a stand on - the Gauci "identification." In particular, there being "no reasonable basis" for the purchase happening on the accepted date.

    That's a question that should be posed to those like the four senators who proceed in self-assure ignorance - "you accept and cite the verdict as the most powerful reason to keep considering the man "Lockerrbie bomber," how do you answer this other Scottish legal ruling indicating that he quite simply could not have been the bomber?"

    One needn't flat agree with this interpretation by versed experts. Merely not ignoring it would be a nice start.

    Reasonable doubt was mysteriously banished from Kamp von Zeist, and never invited back for a new hearing anywhere else. And now with the "Cadder" legislation we've got an additional slant against it - reasonable doubt or not, there's a refreshed emphasis on "finality of judgment." As if it's even needed!

    Further moves away from translucency and reason, and towards the days of old when high priests established and upheld each others' sacrosanct laws by unknowable formulae... death to the infidels, etc.

    Anyway, smart letter, Dr. Swire.