Sunday, 21 October 2012

Lockerbie bombing: Prosecutors seek acquitted Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah

[This is the headline over a report in today’s edition of Scotland on Sunday.  It reads as follows:]

Prosecutors investigating the Lockerbie bombing are examining evidence that could implicate Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, the Libyan acquitted of the atrocity, documents obtained by Scotland on Sunday suggest.

The Crown Office has always maintained that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Libyan agent convicted of the 1988 bombing, did not act alone. Last month, prosecutors requested new hearings to be held in private in Malta. Scotland on Sunday understands the basis of those hearings related to the actions of Megrahi, Fhimah and others in the Libyan intelligence services.

The investigation is focused on the explosive package placed on Air Malta flight KM180, which was transferred on to Pan Am flight 103, and exploded above Lockerbie, killing 270 people.

Fhimah, a former station manager for Libyan Arab Airlines, stood trial alongside Megrahi at Camp Zeist. He was acquitted in 2001 by the presiding judge, Lord Sutherland, and returned home to a hero’s welcome in Libya. He could face a new prosecution under double jeopardy legislation passed by the Scottish Government last year.

Yesterday the Crown Office refused to say whether Fhimah is one of the people being looked at by the cold case unit as a double jeopardy candidate.

However, documents sent along with a “commission rogatoire” – a formal request for judicial assistance – by the Crown Office to officials in Malta, reveal he is still in their sights. The Crown Office declined to disclose details of the letter, following a Freedom of Information request. However, it did include a “summary of facts”.

In it the Crown said: “The circumstances giving rise to this request are that it is alleged that the said Megrahi and Fhimah, acting in concert with others and with the Libyan intelligence services... caused an improvised explosive device to be placed among clothing and an umbrella, which had been purchased in Malta, within a suitcase which had been tagged so as to enable it to be carried on Air Malta flight KM180 to Frankfurt on 21 December, 1988.”

A Crown Office spokesman said: “The trial court accepted that Megrahi acted in furtherance of the Libyan intelligence services in an act of state sponsored terrorism and did not act alone. It would not be appropriate to offer further comment.”

[Today's edition of the Maltese newspaper The Sunday Times contains a report based on the Scotland on Sunday article.]

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