Sunday, 21 August 2011

Al-Megrahi was only Libyan in identity parade

[This is the headline over an article by Paula Murray in today's edition of the Sunday Express. It reads in part:]

The Lockerbie bomber was the only Libyan in the crucial identity parade before his trial in the Netherlands, the Sunday Express can reveal.

Secret documents prepared by Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi’s lawyers show Dutch officials struggled to find volunteers who resembled the terror suspect.

The pool of lookalikes included white Europeans, men who were significantly taller or shorter than Megrahi and one who would have been 14 at the time of the atrocity.

Even so, Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci – the Crown’s key witness who was paid £1.2 million to testify – still struggled to pick out Megrahi.

The revelations cast further doubt on the Libyan’s conviction over the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing, which killed 270 people. in December 1988.

Yesterday, details of a secret report emerged showing that there were seven major flaws in the evidence. (...)

First Minister Alex Salmond and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, writing in today’s Sunday Express, have defended their decision. [RB: I cannot find an article by Mr MacAskill on the newspaper's website, though a short one appears in the print edition.]

Yesterday, Mr Salmond said the new evidence “could and should have been judged in a court of law” but added that he “did not doubt” Megrahi’s guilt. (...)

A dossier for Megrahi’s appeal – which was dropped days before his release – claim the ID parade in April 1999 “fell short of what was fair”. Gauci, who sold clothing that was later packed in a suitcase with the bomb, said he could not be sure if any of the men were the same individual who had visited his shop a decade earlier.

Eventually, he picked out Megrahi as the one who “looked a little bit like exactly” the purchaser.

The report claims the parade was carried out after “an extraordinary length of time” using “stand-ins” who were not “sufficiently similar”.

It also points out that Megrahi’s photograph had widely published.Police reports from the parade are described as “incomplete and confusing”.

Professor Steven Clark, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, states: “At no time did [Gauci] ever clearly and definitively assert that Mr. Megrahi was the man who came into his store.

“Rather, in each identification procedure, he stated that Mr. Megrahi was ‘similar’ or ‘resembled’ the man.” [RB: Professor Clark's report on the identification evidence relating to Megrahi can be read here.]

Another eyewitness identification expert, Professor Tim Valentine, of Golsmiths University of London, said: “I do have concern of the quality of the identification evidence. I wouldn’t want to be convicted on identification evidence of that quality.” [RB: Professor Valentine's report on the identification evidence relating to Megrahi can be read here.]

Scottish campaigner Iain McKie, a member of the Justice for Megrahi committee, added: “The identification process of Megrahi was totally and utterly flawed and wrong. Yet the conviction rests on that identification. The whole process was rotten.”

[On the Express website Susan Lindauer posted the following comment on this story:]

Megrahi deserves to die a free man. As the primary negotiator w/Libya for the trial, I want to state as forcefully as possible and without equivocation: the CIA started talks for the trial with full knowledge of Megrahi's innocence. Unhappily, we recognized the US and Britain were so obsessed with Libya's guilt. It was decided that politicians and family members could not accept the truth of Megrahi's innocence, until they saw the (lack of) evidence on the table. There would have to be a trial.

However everyone expected an immediate acquittal. The CIA stood alert in the wings, ready to reconfigure the attack and arrest the real culprits. So ironically, the Lockerbie families would have achieved real justice 10 years ago, if only the Courts had behaved honorably in acknowledging Megrahi's innocence in the first place. It was obvious to anyone who examined the case.

[A comment from Susan Lindauer on an earlier Express story can be read here.]

1 comment:

  1. A wonderfully batty yarn from the fabulous Susan Lindauer.

    According to this the CIA wanted the Libyans to agree to a trial so the defendants could be acquitted! The CIA could then go after the real culprits!

    While this is probably news to Vinnie it puts the whole situation with Majid Giaka in a completely new light. The CIA must have put him up as a witness because his evidence was so ludicrous it was bound to collapse the case! How fiendishly clever.