Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Report fails to address crucial evidence

[This is the headline over an article by John Ashton in today’s edition of The Herald.  It reads in part:]

The 821-page SCCRC report is impressively detailed and argued, but important areas of evidence remain untouched and it's clear the commission missed important facts that strengthen Megrahi's claims of innocence.
The most notable is the failure to consider evidence from the three airports that, according to the Crown, the Lockerbie bomb passed through: Luqa in Malta, Frankfurt and Heathrow.
The Crown case relied on documents from Frankfurt, which seemed to show that an unaccompanied bag was transferred from an inbound Air Malta flight to Pan Am 103's Heathrow feeder flight.
Evidence from Malta suggests this was unlikely, and there was also evidence from Heathrow, not available to the trial court, suggesting that the bomb was loaded onto PA103 before the feeder flight arrived.
The FBI played a big role in the investigation, yet the only FBI files to which the commission had access were the ones held by the Crown Office. During its four-year review the commission only interviewed one US investigator, former CIA agent Robert Baer, and failed to conduct any investigations in Germany, home of the Palestinian cell who were the original suspects in the bombing.
The report's 24 volumes of appendices contain some important information, which the commission failed to comment upon. For example, a police report concerning possible reward payments to star witness Tony Gauci also states that he gave 23 statements and was visited by the police more than 50 times. Only 19 statements were disclosed to Megrahi's lawyers and the details of most meetings have never been revealed.
The biggest omission concerns the key forensic evidence that convicted Megrahi: a piece of circuit board alleged to be from one of 20 timing devices supplied to Libya. Last month the biography Megrahi: You Are My Jury, revealed that a metallic coating ruled it out as part of one of those timers. A supplementary report noted the discrepancy but said it was not "significant". 

[Another article by John Ashton in the same newspaper headlined "The other prime suspect and doubts over conviction" can be read here (and here); and a report by Lucy Adams headlined "Lockerbie trial QC criticized" can be read here (and here). The QC in question is Colin Boyd (Lord Boyd of Duncansby) who was Lord Advocate at the time of the Zeist trial. The criticism is as follows:]
In its 821-page report, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) criticises Lord Boyd for his handling of CIA cables, referring to Abdul Majid Giaka, an alleged double agent who was a Crown witness. Giaka identified Megrahi as a member of Libyan intelligence, but his subsequent evidence was rejected following revelations in the US intelligence agency's much-redacted cables that he had demanded and received reward money.
Lord Boyd originally told the trial there was no need for disclosure.
However, the SCCRC said it was "difficult to understand" his assurances on August 22, 2000, that there was "nothing" within the documents relating to Lockerbie or the bombing which could "in any way impinge" on Giaka's credibility. It added: "The matter is all the more serious given that part of the reason for viewing the cables on 1 June, 2000, was precisely in order to assess whether information behind the redacted sections reflected upon Majid's credibility."
The Crown subsequently shared some of the redacted cables after demands from the defence. 

[I have previously written about this utterly disgraceful episode in an article published in The Scotsman on 23 July 2007. Today's edition of that newspaper contains a report headlined Lockerbie: Fresh plea to release Lockerbie dossier as 6 key doubts emerge.]

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