Friday, 3 December 2010

Megrahi's family "to sue for false imprisonment"

The family of released Lockerbie bomber Abdulbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi is preparing to sue Britain for false imprisonment, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi claimed last night.

The Libyan leader said Megrahi remained “very ill” with prostate cancer following his controversial release by the Scottish Government on compassionate grounds in August last year, and blamed his poor health on intentional “neglect” he suffered in prison.

Col Gaddafi said his family will mount a compensation claim once the 58-year-old dies.

“After he passes away his family will demand compensation because he was deliberately neglected in prison,” he said.

“His health was not looked after in prison, and he didn’t have any periodic examinations. I wish him a long life. He was released because he was considered dead, and yet he was still alive.”

Col Gaddafi made the claims during a speech to students and staff at the London School of Economics (LSE) via a live video-link, which is understood to have been organised through his son Saif Al-Gaddafi who has a doctorate from the university.

The compensation claim could run into several million pounds, according to Libyan diplomatic officials who attended the talk.

Col Gaddafi alleged that the case against the former intelligence agent had “been fabricated and created by” former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher and former US President Ronald Reagan.

He even suggested that CIA agents had been behind the 1988 terrorist atrocity, in which 270 people were killed after a Pan Am airline blew up over Scotland.

“These are the people who created this conspiracy,” said Col Gaddafi, referring to Lady Thatcher’s and Mr Reagan’s alleged role in a Megrahi's murder conviction and life sentence over the attack.

“The charges directed towards Libya were based on unfounded evidence in an attempt to weaken the Libyan Revolution and limit its resources and abilities.” (...)

The theory about the CIA’s alleged involvement in the Lockerbie disaster has already been advanced in a controversial documentary film and a number of books.

The Maltese Double Cross — Lockerbie a 1994 documentary produced by the late US director Allan Francovich, alleges that a bomb was introduced onto the ill-fated flight in a CIA-protected suitcase, and had nothing to do with Megrahi.

“Everybody considers him [Megrahi] to be innocent,” Col Gaddafi added.

[The above is from a report just published on The Telegraph website.

There is a similar report in The Scotsman. The report in The Sun contains the following quotes from relatives of victims of the Lockerbie disaster:]

But last night Susan Cohen, 72 - who lost her only daughter Theo, 20, in the 1988 Pan Am disaster - branded the threat of legal action "outrageous and insulting".

Susan, of New Jersey, US, said: "If this legal action were to go ahead - and we have no reason to think that it will not - then it would be an absolute outrage.

"Megrahi was found guilty at trial, and all this bluster from Gaddafi is designed to do one thing - to one day get a not guilty verdict for that man.

"The families of those killed who live in the US will be horrified to learn of what he has said."

Peter Lowenstein, 75, of New York, whose son Alexander, 21, was killed in the atrocity, claimed Megrahi was "a lunatic". He added: "There was a trial, the man was found guilty.

"The evidence, although circumstantial, was overwhelming.

"I see no reason and no rationale for suing the British government for unlawful imprisonment - that is absurd." (...)

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora also perished in the bombing, welcomed the news that Megrahi's relatives could sue.

Dr Swire - who believes Megrahi to be innocent - said: "This might offer a chance to review the legal case against Megrahi.

"I think those of us who still seek the truth of what happened at Lockerbie would welcome that course of action."

And a Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government do not doubt the conviction of al-Megrahi.

"He was given the same high standard of NHS care as any other prisoner within the Scottish prison system."

[Further reaction from the Scottish Government and others is to be found in this report on the BBC News website. What the Scottish Conservatives think about it can be read here. Is it any wonder that the party is dying on its feet in Scotland?

Any action for false imprisonment or for inadequate medical treatment while in prison would have to be brought against the Scottish, not the British, Government. While Megrahi's conviction remains in place, any action for false imprisonment would be doomed to almost inevitable failure. In an action based on neglect or inadequate medical care by the Scottish Prison Service, his family would have to prove, on a balance of probabilities, (a) that there was such neglect and (b) that the neglect caused or materially contributed to his death. I see no realistic prospect of success in this.

A better course of action for the Megrahi family would be a further application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, in the hope that they could surmount the hurdles recently erected by section 7 of the Cadder emergency legislation.]



    Thank you Colonel Gaddafi for your action. It makes us happy that my report showed the necessary effect to you.

    The Leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi has revealed last night, that the family of Mr. Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi is preparing a compensation claim and set to sue Britain for false imprisonment...

    At the right time, perhaps its last chance for resolution rests with the Scottish [Government], who have until 10 December 2010 to respond to the public petitions committee and advise if they will hold an inquiry that may bring some clarity to what has become an international scandal.

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

  2. Interesting that Gaddafi does not mention ex-President (and former CIA Director) George H W Bush in this conspiracy.

    Which suggests that if Thatcher and Reagan had indeed "fabricated and created" the Lockerbie bombing case against Libya, they would have done so in the interregnum between the November 1988 US presidential election and Bush Senior taking over from Reagan on 20 January 1989.

  3. I don't get this. How on earth could they sue for wrongful imprisonment when the UK media will only point out he "chose" to drop his appeal?

    Why not resurrect the appeal now and take it that way via the ECHR? (Keep us right here Robert, is that an option? Could his family involve the ECHR right now and point to what was essentially the obstruction of justice for more than two years as the hearing was delayed repeatedly?) With the SCCRC report there and the SIX grounds publicly highlighted he would stand a far better chance than what is being proposed.

    But what is allegedly being proposed here can only set back the progress being made elsewhere. Who on earth has advised them to do this?

  4. Abdelbaset Megrahi's appeal cannot be resurrected. He abandoned it. It is as dead as a dodo (or as John Cleese's parrot). There is no mechanism whereby it can be resuscitated by him or anyone else.

    What could happen is that another application could be made to the SCCRC. If that were successful (notwithstanding s7 of the Cadder Act) and if the High Court agreed to accept the SCCRC's reference (also notwithstanding s7 of the Cadder Act) then there could be a third appeal against Megrahi's conviction. But this would be a new appeal, NOT a continuation of the abandoned appeal.

    I agree with Jo that the idea of civil actions by Megrahi's family for wrongful imprisonment or inadequate medical attention seems misguided. Whether they are really contemplating this or whether it is a notion concocted by Colonel Gaddafi, who can say?

  5. Is there any ECHR route Robert? Given the stalling over the appeal? (Bearing in mind Hans Koechler's plain-spoken statement way back about the judiciary being caught up in obstructing justice?)

  6. I don't see any ECHR route. This is a complaint that only Megrahi can make: that the procedure in HIS appeal was not Convention compliant because of delay. But that appeal was abandoned, so there is no extant process in which the complaint could be raised. In any event, such are the delays to be found in continental European criminal procedure that it's very unlikely that the European Court of Human Rights would hold the procedure in Megrahi's appeal was anything to be concerned about.

  7. The story now being told is simply that Megrahi's family is intending to sue over inadequate medical treatment, which was deliberate.

    This is a big back-track from suing for unjust imprisonment.

    Both seem pretty far-fetched ideas though, and it's my suspicion this is just Gadaffi being an idiot and shooting his mouth off, as usual.

    The absence of a prostate cancer screening programme in the west of Scotland has been widely criticised. It probably cost my cousin's husband his life too. But Megrahi wasn't treated worse than anyone else, and there's no suggestion at all that somehow these psychic prison warders knew he would develop prostate cancer so deliberately withheld screening.

    Nothing to see here folks. Pity, really.

  8. The fair Mission Lockerbie:

    The "SALE" at the United Kingdom of Leader Muammar Gaddafi's 'Geat Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya' and the drop of Al-Megrahi's promising appeal against a dubious "Deal under Security", was a criminal matter and must be pursued by the Justice of Libyan Jamahirya...

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd., Switzerland. URL: