[This is the headline over a report published today by the The Press Association news agency. It reads in part:]
A petition calling for an inquiry into the conviction of the
Lockerbie bomber is to be looked at by Holyrood's Justice Committee.
petition, brought forward by the pressure group Justice For Megrahi
(JFM), has been passed on to the committee after being kept open by MSPs
on the Petitions Committee earlier this year.
Mohmed Al Megrahi was controversially freed from prison on compassionate
grounds after being diagnosed with terminal cancer and had been staging
a second appeal against his conviction.
But he dropped it in the run-up to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill's decision to release him in August 2009.
About 1,500 people signed the JFM petition before it was lodged at the Scottish Parliament.
pressure group, which includes Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter
Flora in the tragedy, and Professor Robert Black QC has also sent a
written submission to the Justice Committee.
It said: "It is time
for the government of Scotland to show real independence by standing up
to the UK and US governments and other vested interests and instituting
an open and accountable judicial inquiry that would at last free the
people of Scotland and the relatives of those lost in that terrible
tragedy 22 years ago."
[An item in the Diary column of today's edition of The Independent reads as follows:]
Somewhere in Libya there is a man who should have died two years ago,
according to the prognosis of his Scottish doctors. Today, the Justice
Committee of the Scottish Parliament will take formal note of a petition
signed by more than 1,600 people who believe the man convicted of the
Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, was framed.
The suspicion, which is not as crazy as the conspiracy theories that
swirled out of the al-Qa'ida atrocities on 9/11, is that Iran ordered
the destruction of Pan Am flight 103, which crashed into the village of
Lockerbie, in South-west Scotland, on 21 December 1988, but that it was
diplomatically convenient to blame Libya, and it later suited Colonel
Muammar Gaddafi to accept the blame to end his country's isolation.
Whether this is true or false may be verifiable if Libya opens up its
Meanwhile, there has been speculation about how ill
Megrahi really is, in the light of his failure to die on schedule. The
US State Department is making noises about having him extradited, to
which the Libyan National Transitional Council's reaction has been along
the lines that the Americans are welcome to him.
Lord Laird, an Ulster peer, suggested last week that the matter of
Megrahi's health could be cleared up if someone from the British embassy
in Tripoli popped round to see him, but the Foreign Office said no.
This is a devolved matter. Megrahi is in the same position as anyone
convicted of a crime in that part of rural Scotland and released under
supervision. He is the responsibility of East Renfrewshire Council.
week, someone from council headquarters in Giffnock calls a telephone
number in Libya. Calls cost 15p a minute, and last four to five minutes,
so the extra cost borne by the council is about 10p a day. The council
says that Megrahi is seriously ill, and complying with the terms of his
supervision order, but will not give out any more detail.
position in international law is cloudy, but it would seem that if
Hillary Clinton really wants Megrahi put on trial in the US, she will
have to ask the council, since Megrahi is under its supervision. East
Renfrewshire has a population of 86,500.