Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Lockerbie bombing: We need an objective Holyrood inquiry

[This is the headline over an article by Dr Jim Swire in today’s edition of The Scotsman. It reads as follows:]
What we have heard in the last 24 hours is further, extremely significant scientific evidence. It appears to show that the evidence found in the third quarter of 1989 – the circuit board fragment – was not consistent with the digital timer that the prosecution alleged to have been used.
That timer was crucial to the prosecution case.
However, at the heart of this case is this extraordinary coincidence:
We know that Heathrow was broken into 16 hours before the explosion over Lockerbie. That break-in occurred in Terminal Three close to where Pan Am flight 103 would be boarded up with suitcases.
Whoever broke in may have left a bomb. It’s speculation, but it is entirely feasible.
Nothing is known about it, because it was not investigated.
We also know that people working for Ahmed Jibril, a Palestinian who broke away from most other Palestinian groups, had manufactured timers that could be triggered by flying above a certain altitude for three-quarters of an hour.
The Lockerbie bomb exploded 40 minutes after it left the terminal at Heathrow.
That bomb could not have been flown by Mr al-Megrahi from Frankfurt, let alone Malta, as it would have exploded en route.
All of this leads me to believe that Mr al-Megrahi was not the Lockerbie bomber.
I saw him in December and he is a very sick man. He finds it difficult to speak, but he is clear in his own mind.
What I would like to see now is an objective inquiry that I can trust, and that must be by the Scottish Government.
Have a look at the facts, have a look at the evidence, and come to a conclusion.
This can be done in this country, in Scotland.
Many pieces of evidence now point to the Crown Office having withheld things that should have been disclosed.
[The same newspaper contains an opinion piece (in my view, distinctly odd), by former Chief Inspector of Prisons, Clive Fairweather.  It reads in part:]
When Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi and his co-accused were in Kamp van Zeist, I met with both in the process of examining the conditions they were being held in.
This afforded me an additional opportunity to attend large parts of the trial where, as a former soldier trained to handle explosives and familiar with barometric timing devices, I was particularly fascinated by the compelling evidence given by a Swiss arms dealer working for Mebo. [RB: Whatever else he may have been, Edwin Bollier was not an arms dealer.]
He was closely questioned about tiny electronic circuit boards supplied to the Stasi and to the Libyan intelligence services, describing how each was slightly different in its components.
The variations were clearly depicted on the court television screens, one of which was traced, step by step, from Libya via Malta to luggage from the wrecked Flight 103. [RB: Colonel Fairweather is mistaken. There was no such evidence led at Zeist.]
This left me convinced of strong (though not necessarily sole) Libyan involvement.
It also became clear that al-Megrahi was a high-ranking intelligence officer and almost certainly “head of station” in Malta. [RB: Colonel Fairweather is once again mistaken. Megrahi was never stationed in Malta in the course of his career and there was certainly no evidence that he was Libyan intelligence’s head of station there.]
This was consistent with the highly cultured individual I found him to be during our exchanges.
His involvement in the baggage transfer arrangements and the explosive device, as proven by Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, therefore seems conclusive. [RB: Colonel Fairweather’s certainty on this matter should be contrasted with the trial court’s caution and its recognition that the evidence relating to how the fatal suitcase was ingested at Luqa Airport was very weak.]
But I now believe he may have been mistakenly identified by the Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci, and as he continues to vehemently insist.
No high-ranking intelligence officer would have exposed himself in such an indiscreet way.
My suspicions are that, instead, it may have been a Palestinian who made the purchases later found amongst the debris at Lockerbie.
So, guilty as charged, but some subsequent doubts remain on the line-up evidence.

[Also in today's edition of The Scotsman is a long and useful article headlined Lockerbie bombing: forensic expert's crucial test results 'were not made available to the court'.]

1 comment:

  1. Is Colonel Fairweather's comment what they call a 'limited hangout'?