A commentary on the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted of the murder of 270 people in the Pan Am 103 disaster.
Sunday, 26 February 2012
Megrahi: the secret evidence
[This is the
headline over an article (behind the paywall) in today’s edition of The Sunday
Times. It reads in part:]
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed
al-Megrahi, who is dying of prostate cancer, will claim in a new book that
crucial documents were withheld from his defence team to ensure he remained the
chief suspect for the 1988 atrocity which killed 270 people.
In Megrahi — You Are My Jury: The Lockerbie
Evidence, published tomorrow, the Libyan will disclose details of witness
statements that were not heard at his trial in 1999.
who was allowed to return to Libya in 2009 after he was diagnosed with terminal
prostate cancer, hopes his book will provide compelling evidence that he is not
guilty of Britain’s worst terrorist attack.
argues that, far from being an unrepentant terrorist, the Libyan was the
“innocent victim of dirty politics, a flawed investigation and judicial folly”.
it draws on the findings of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
(SCCRC), which recommended that his case be returned to the Appeal Court in
report has not been released publicly but was made available to the Libyan’s
defence team. Megrahi is expected to reveal that statements made by Tony Gauci,
the prosecution’s key witness, were never disclosed to his lawyers.
owned a shop in Malta where Megrahi allegedly purchased clothes that were wrapped
around the Lockerbie bomb. Gauci’s testimony about the date when the clothing
was purchased — December 7, 1988 — was crucial as that was the only day that
Megrahi was known to be on the island.
the missing statements discovered by the SCCRC was one in which Gauci claimed
his brother Paul was in the shop when the clothes were bought and helped the
buyer carry the parcels to his car. It is claimed that, had Megrahi’s defence
been aware of this, Paul Gauci would have been questioned and could have
confirmed that Megrahi was not the buyer.
another statement to Scottish police, Gauci said he “clearly” remembered an
argument with his girlfriend on the day the clothes were purchased. Megrahi
claims a failure to share this information denied his defence team a chance to
interview the woman and corroborate the date.
book also suggests false intelligence was passed by the Scottish authorities to
German counterparts who were initially sceptical about Libya’s role in the
source close to the project said: “It’s a vast book and a lot of it is in
forensic detail. If the case in the book is accepted, then the questions it
raises about Scottish justice are very deep and very serious.”
Crown Office, which maintains that Megrahi did not act alone in carrying out
the terrorist attack, is preparing to send investigators to Libya in the hope
of gathering fresh evidence to support his conviction and identify his
Mulholland QC, the lord advocate, met British relatives in London last week and
revealed that the Crown Office had received “favourable” responses from Libya
to a request for access to files held in Tripoli.
present at the meeting in Whitehall was Patrick Shearer, the chief constable of
Dumfries and Galloway police, and two agents from the FBI.
night, Pamela Dix, who lost her brother Peter in the Lockerbie bombing, said:
“The tragedy is still very distressing. I would far rather that new evidence
was heard in a courtroom. The problem is none of it can be legally refuted and
it will be his side of the story.”
Ashton, a British journalist who wrote Megrahi’s book, said: “Abdelbaset and I
are acutely aware of the anguish that the book might cause the victims’
relatives who believe him to be guilty. We simply wish them and the wider
public to know all the important evidence that was available to us, most of
which has been concealed from the relatives and was not aired at his trial.”
Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the Lockerbie bombing and believes Megrahi
was wrongfully convicted, said: “I very much hope the book will have influence
on Scottish public opinion and persuade ministers to hold an independent
inquiry into Megrahi’s guilty verdict.”
Crown Office said: “The only appropriate forum for the determination of guilt
or innocence is the court.”
[A brief article in the Sunday Mail
headed “Lockerbie bomber Megrahi 'forgives' witness who secured his conviction”
can be read here.]