Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Prosecutors want to quiz leader over links to Lockerbie atrocity

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

Scottish prosecutors will interview Muammar Gaddafi over his links to the Lockerbie bombing if the embattled Libyan leader is taken alive by the rebels forces.

The Crown Office said last night it intends to pursue all lines of inquiry as the investigation into the terrorist atrocity, which killed 270 people, remains live and ongoing. (...)

Officers from Dumfries and Galloway Police have already interviewed Moussa Koussa, the former head of Gaddafi’s secret service, who defected to Europe in April this year.

The details of those talks remain secret, but investigators believe Gaddafi – the absolute ruler of Libya for more than four decades – has vital knowledge of the operation which led to a bomb being smuggled on to the Pan Am plane, as well as the motive behind the attack.

Last night, a spokesman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “Given the current events in Libya the Crown stands ready to investigate any new leads.

“The Crown will continue to pursue lines of inquiry that become available.

“The trial court accepted that Mr Megrahi acted in furtherance of the Libyan intelligence services in an act of state sponsored terrorism and did not act alone.

“Lockerbie remains an open case concerning the involvement of others with Megrahi in the murder of 270 people.

“As the investigation remains live, and in order to preserve the integrity of that investigation, it would not be appropriate to offer further comment.” (...)

Should [Gaddafi] be taken into custody, the way would be open for Scottish detectives to interview him over his part in the Lockerbie bombing, which remains the worst terrorist attack on British soil. (...)

The Gaddafi regime previously accepted responsibility for the bombing, and allowed the former secret service agent to be prosecuted for the attack. [RB: The Libyan Government's "responsibility letter" can be read here.]

Edinburgh University law professor Robert Black, who was key to setting up Megrahi’s trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, told The Herald that it is vital to find out what Gaddafi knows about the Lockerbie bombing as his testimony could be key to unravelling the facts behind the case.

He said: “By all means they should speak to him if it finally allows some evidence about what happened to come out.

“The Scottish prosecution service know as well as anybody that they were extremely lucky to get a conviction in the first place, so to actually have some evidence as to who is responsible for Lockerbie would be nice.

“It’s my position that we haven’t had anything approaching that.”

[What follows is an excerpt from today's edition of the Daily Record:]

David Cameron wants the Lockerbie bomber tracked down and put back behind bars.

The Prime Minister contacted the rebel leadership and told them Abdelbaset al-Megrahi should now be locked up.

Megrahi was jailed in 2001 for his role in the bombing of PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, which killed 270 people.

He was freed on compassionate grounds by justice secretary Kenny MacAskill two years ago, after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

Despite a threemonth life expectancy at the time of his release, Megrahi continues to live in Tripoli with his family.

Cameron's spokeswoman made it clear he wants to see Megrahi rounded up along with Gaddafi.

She said: "The Prime Minister regrets the continuing anguish, pain and suffering that the release of Megrahi has caused and his personal view is that he thinks it was wrong that he was released."

[A similar report appears in The Scotsman and another in The Herald.

As I commented yesterday on the subject of an intervention by a backbench Tory MP, "It is interesting that law-makers, even such insignificant ones as Mr Halfon, can be so cavalier about legality. Is this perhaps a symptom of society's general moral collapse, about which there has been so much speculation since the recent riots in English cities?"]

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