Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Bid to nail second Lockerbie bomber after double jeopardy law scrapped

[This is the headline over a report in today's edition of the Daily Record. It reads in part:]

The man cleared of the Lockerbie bombing could face a second trial for mass murder.

MSPs last night scrapped Scotland's 800-year-old double jeopardy law, which prevents someone standing trial twice for the same offence.

And that has opened the door for a second trial for Libyan Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah.

Legal sources claim there is "new and compelling evidence" linking him to the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103. [RB: For the Crown to produce any compelling evidence at all -- new or old -- against either Fhimah or Megrahi would be a novelty.]

And if Colonel Gaddafi's regime collapses, law chiefs will try to bring Fhimah back to Scotland for a retrial.

A top level source told the Record: "Fhimah is very much on the radar but everything depends on what happens in Libya in the coming days and weeks."

Fhimah was unanimously cleared of the mass murder of 270 people after a trial in Holland under Scots law in 2001. Three judges accepted he was in Sweden at the time the bomb was planted. [RB: This statement is arrant nonsense. There was no evidence to this effect and the trial judges made no such finding. The journalist appears to have confused Fhimah with Abu Talb.]

But his co-accused Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was found guilty and jailed for life. Said to be dying from prostate cancer, Megrahi was controversially freed on compassionate grounds in 2009.

And Fhimah was there to hug him on the steps of the plane which brought him home to Libya. Now prosecutors believe their new evidence would see him convicted.

But that will only happen if there is regime change in Tripoli - and any new government agrees Fhimah should face retrial.

The scrapping of the double jeopardy rule follows a similar change to English law in 2003.


  1. I noticed quite some time ago that the Wikipedia page on the Lockerbie bombing erroneously stated that Fhimah had been proved to have been in Sweden on the day of the disaster. I thought about fixing it, but editing conroversial wiki pages isn't my idea of fun, and once you start on that page you'd never stop. So I left it. The statement does not appear to be in the article now, so is this bozo working from an old printout or something?

    This is exactly why it's questionable whether the ban on double jeopardy should ever have been lifted. It was originally introduced in order to stop the State oppressively pursuing someone repeatedly for the same crime out of malice or misguided zeal.

    Certainly, advances in technology such as DNA identification pose challenges for the concept. However, in terms of civil liberties, human rights and the general desirability of people not being oppressively pursued through the courts, disallowing double jeopardy was an important safeguard and we could live to regret changing that.

  2. Hopefully Richard Marquise will be on hand to chastise this journalist also.

  3. This just gets more and more bizarre.

  4. Oh my f***ing God. An 800 year-old law? Scrapped altogether, and why? To have a chance at a re-run or a remake of that old Magrahi-Fhimah cartoon? Written by the CIA and AM Giaka, animated by the FBI and Scots police, cut in half by the Zeist court, the reamaining half cut in half by the SCCRC.

    An 800 year-old law. Seriously?

    But I'm sure I'mmissing something. Like the UK precedent, back in 2003. Not long after Fhimah's embarrassing acquittal.


  5. What you're missing is the emergence of DNA technology that could prove someone was guilty of a crime for which they had previouly been acquitted due to insufficient evidence. There was some public concern about this, that guilty men were sitting pretty because their cases came to court before the technology was available that would have convicted them.

    The repeal of the ban on double jeopardy somehow seemed to rest on the assumption that 21st century prosecutors are not mediaeval robber barons and will not oppressively hound someone through the courts repeatedly on the same charge out of malice. I beg leave to doubt this, actually.

    However, it's perfectly possible this present article is just another piece of fevered journalism with no actual connection to reality. We seem to be getting a lot of that this weather.

  6. Boom. That also explains it. Thanks, Rolfe. From some of the miscarriage of justice case studies I've seen, I could see such a change doing about as much harm as good, if not more. But there's a point to it, for sure.

  7. Many years ago I thought the best way for the defence team to proceed would be to call the authorities bluff for Mr Fhimah to surrender himself for trial in Scotland rather than taking the disastrous path of "Camp Zeist".

    Somebody on this blog recently made the ludicrous claim that Thomas Thurman fitted up Libya for the UTA case. In present circumstances it is of interest that six Libyan officials have been convicted in absentia.
    (For an English language and more objective account of the UTA case see part X of The Masonic Verses at

  8. It was French investigative journalist, Pierre Péan, who made the "claim that Thomas Thurman fitted up Libya for the UTA case" in his 2001 book Les preuves trafiquées du terrorisme libyen:

    "Thurman n’a absolument pas une attitude scientifique. Il se forge une opinion ou « on » lui en souffle une, et il tente ensuite de la « prouver » scientifiquement. Travaillant en symbiose avec ses confrères de la CIA à la fois sur l’attentat de Lockerbie et sur celui du DC10 d’UTA, il sait que ceux-ci désignent Tripoli dans les deux cas, malgré les preuves qui se sont accumulées sur le FPLP-CG d’Ahmed Jibril."

    In 1997 the US Inspector-General, Michael Bromwich, found that throughout his employment at the FBI laboratory since 1981, Thurman had manipulated the evidence in a number of explosives-related cases. The I-G suspended Thurman and forbade him to appear as an expert witness in future court cases. Hence Thurman could not testify at either the 1999 Paris trial in absentia of the six Libyans in the UTA case or the 2000 Zeist trial of Megrahi and Fhimah in the Lockerbie case.

    Tom Thurman was famously buttonholed by Gideon Levy in the 2009 TV documentary Lockerbie Revisited (0:39:57 to 0:43:05). Thurman strongly denied manipulating evidence at the FBI laboratory and told Levy: "I left of my own free will."