Monday, 4 April 2011

Moussa Koussa and the Scottish police and prosecutors

[The following is from a report in The Independent today:]

Libya's acting foreign minister flew into Athens last night on a mission from Muammar Gaddafi which his Greek government hosts said meant the regime was now seeking an end to the fighting.

Disilllusioned with what he sees as the betrayal by France, Britian and Italy because of the NATO-led military intervention, the Libyan leader may see Greece—with which he has long enjoyed good relations—as a possible diplomatic conduit to the West.

After Abdelati Obeidi met Prime Minister George Papandreou, Mr Obeidi's Greek counterpart, Dimitri Droutsas, said last night: "It seems that the Libyan authorities are seeking a solution." Though there were few details of what, if anything, the regime is proposing, Mr Papandreou has been in touch with Western governments over the past few days. Mr Obeidi is expected to travel on to Malta and Turkey. [RB: An article on the Aljazeera website on the Obeidi mission can be read here.]

Meanwhile, Scottish officials have arrived in London to question Libya's former foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, on what he knows about the Lockerbie bombing. The interview, which may take place today, comes as MPs and families of victims of the attack demand that Mr Koussa should not be granted immunity from prosecution, even if there have been attempts to encourage others in the Gaddafi regime to defect.

Despite reports that Mr Koussa is named in court documents as overseeing Libya's supply of Semtex explosive to the Provisional IRA, British officials will seek to delay any legal moves against him, arguing that the priority is to oust Colonel Gaddafi.

[The other UK media that I have been able to access online go no further than to state that Scottish officials will today discuss with UK Foreign Office officials the possibility of interviewing Moussa Koussa. There is no suggestion that any such interview will take place today or, indeed, any time soon. For example, the report on the BBC News website can be read here; that on the Sky News website can be read here; that in The Scotsman (which is misleadingly headlined) can be read here; and the Press Association news agency report here.

However, the report in the Daily Record contains the following:]

A young Scottish prosecutor is leading efforts to question the high-profile Libyan defector Musa Kusa over the Lockerbie bombing.

Lindsey Miller, head of the Crown Office Serious and Organised Crime Division, has been liaising with families of the Lockerbie victims and wrote to them promising to pursue Gaddafi's former spy chief.

Lawyers and police could start interviewing Kusa today.

Miller, 39, is the senior procurator fiscal heading the investigation into the terrorist attack on Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 that killed 270 people.

In an email sent to relatives of the victims after Kusa arrived in Britain, Miller said her staff had notified the Foreign Office that "we wish to interview [Kusa] regarding any information he may have concerning the bombing of Pan Am flight 103."

She added that the bomb probe "remains open and we will pursue all relevant lines of inquiry in conjunction with our US counterparts". [RB: Regrettably, the Scottish police and prosecutors have a very narrow concept of what is "relevant" -- only material that supports the Malta-Frankfurt-Heathrow scenario.]

Representatives of the Crown Office and Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary are to meet Foreign Office officials today to discuss access to the Libyan foreign minister.

Last night, Scottish justice minister Kenny MacAskill said: "They'll be seeking to interview him tomorrow.

"It's not for me to interfere with due process here. I have to stand back and leave that to the relevant authorities, but they've been there waiting in London since Friday." (...)

Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday gave the green light to the Crown Office after denying there would be an amnesty deal with Kusa if he helped topple Gaddafi.

Hague said: "It is a good thing, of course, where the Crown Office in Scotland wish to talk to him about what's happened in the past such as at Lockerbie.

"My officials are discussing with the Crown Office how to go about that. That's not a bad thing either - we want more information about past events."

Hague insisted there is no deal with Kusa. He said: "The Prime Minister and I have made clear there is no immunity from prosecution, there will be no immunity, he hasn't asked for that, there isn't a deal."

MacAskill added: "I welcome the commitment of the Foreign Secretary to allow them access and I hope that this provides further clarity on the Lockerbie atrocity."

1 comment:

  1. When (if) Scottish police and prosecutors are given access to Moussa Koussa, so that Kenny MacAskill's hopes for "further clarity on the Lockerbie atrocity" can be fulfilled, will Mr Koussa's lawyer be present?

    Since the world is entitled to know whether Libya had anything to do with the sabotage of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, everything Moussa Koussa has to say on the subject should be fully reported in the media.

    I nominate journalist Ian Bell to sit in on Mr Koussa's interview, and to report it verbatim on his Prospero blog!