Saturday, 26 October 2013

Lockerbie: perpetrators roam free

[This is the headline over an article by Justice for Megrahi’s indefatigable secretary, Robert Forrester, in today’s edition of the Maltese newspaper The Times:  It reads as follows]

When the bomb that brought down Pan Am 103 detonated, it initiated a sequence of events resulting in a flawed legal process based on a misguided investigation, which has left the reputation of the Scottish criminal justice system in tatters and ultimately besmirched Malta’s reputation.

The Crown’s initial ‘star witness’at Camp Zeist was Abdul Majid Giaka. His testimony was dismissed as that of a money grubbing ‘fantasist’ by the judges. Sadly however, without the promise staked by the prosecution in his claims implicating Abdelbaset al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, the trial may well never have gone to court in the first instance.

Whether one invests even a morsel of credibility in anything Giaka said relating to this case is open to question; nevertheless, during debriefs, he indicated that Gaddafi had ruled out involving Luqa in any nefarious plots because of the airport’s stringent security regime.

The mantle of ‘star witness’ was then transferred to the shoulders of Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci. Profound question marks dangle over Gauci’s identification of Megrahi from photo spreads and formal line up, inconsistencies linking his description of the mystery purchaser’s age and physique when compared with that of Megrahi’s, and to the date when the purchases were made.

Reasonable doubt?

Gauci and brother also appear to have been the beneficiaries of a $3 million inducement for his appearance at Camp Zeist: information that the court was not made privy to. Nor was the court made aware of the grooming process applied on Gauci by Lockerbie investigators.

As a result of the Lockerbie bombing, the security systems in place at Luqa, Frankfurt and Heathrow were subject to independent examination, resulting in Luqa coming out top of the class and Heathrow ensconced in the dunce’s corner.

There is no documentary or eyewitness evidence whatsoever that an unaccompanied and unaccounted for brown, hardshell Samsonite was loaded onto Air Malta flight KM 180 at Luqa. None. Similarly, there is no evidence whatsoever that such a suitcase was transferred from KM 180 to Pan Am 103 at Frankfurt. None. 

Reasonable doubt?

On December 21, 1988, prior to the arrival of Pan Am 103 from Frankfurt, baggage handler John Bedford noted the existence of a brown, hardshell Samsonite style, suitcase not only in the container in which the bomb went off but also in the position that it detonated. He could neither account for this item nor did he pull it for inspection. Despite the fact the Crown went to great pains to encourage the Heathrow baggage handlers to say the luggage had been shuffled in the container to accommodate the imagined suitcase from Malta, such testimony from the Heathrow witnesses was not forthcoming. 

Reasonable doubt?

To compound this evidence from Heathrow, another eyewitness statement, to the effect that Heathrow airside had been broken into only hours before, giving access to the 103 interline shed, was denied to the court.

Furthermore, recent evidence has emerged indicating that perjury may have been committed surrounding forensic testimony relating to the metallurgic composition of the shard of printed circuit board claimed to have been part of the triggering device for the bomb.

The judges, who, exceptionally, were also the jury, preferred the case founded on speculation rather than accept that eyewitness evidence available to police in the first weeks of the investigation pointing not to Luqa but to Heathrow as the origin of the bomb. Thus Megrahi was convicted and Fhimah acquitted.

Bizarrely, with the acquittal of Fhimah, a central plank of the Crown case was demolished, namely that the plot could not have been accomplished by a lone individual.

With the conviction being upheld at the first appeal, partly due to the wrong grounds being adopted, and the second appeal being dropped in politically dubious circumstances, the Crown has maintained what comes across as a cynical charade to attempt to incriminate other Libyans as Megrahi’s co-conspirators to shore up the indefensible.

The Crown’s constant refrain is that Megrahi was convicted in a court of law and a court of law is the only appropriate platform for dealing with the matter. Obviously, it is open to the Megrahi family to makean appeal referral but, given Libya’s highly fraught and unstable circumstances, that likelihood seems most improbable. It is also open to the families of the bereaved who regard the case to have been a miscarriage of justice.

This inexcusable tragedy of errors has produced even more victims than it started with and has seemingly permitted the actual perpetrators to roam free. Campaigners are calling for an independent inquiry into the case. Perhaps now, 25 years on, provides a symbolic moment for Malta to join the fray.


  1. Can you fight a war if you accept the blame for the sins of your enemy?

    For example, Libya was destroyed in an attempt to close the Lockerbie case.

    The plan was to support the rebels and in return the new government would take responsibility for Lockerbie by blaming Gaddafi and thus derail PE1370.

    Except things never went to plan and Gaddafi wasn’t assassinated until after the Justice committee voted unanimously to keep PE1370 alive.

    And, because the indiscriminate ‘bomb and hope’ to kill Gaddafi has left Libya without a credible replacement government.

    Does JfM share the blame, because without PE1370 there would have been no legal Lockerbie case left to close?

    This is why I find the invite for Malta to ‘join the fray’ a bit sadistic, because it’s a bit like inviting someone to their own funeral.

    And why would they when they have already cleared their name after winning a libel case with Granada TV establishing that the ‘bomb’ wasn’t put on at Luqa airport?

    A more rational approach would be to invite Russia to raise the matter at the UN or on Russia TV in defence of themselves and allies against neo-con warmongering, because unlike Libya or Malta, only they are big enough to raise the matter without (hopefully) being bombed!

  2. Dear Dave,

    The UN has not yet demonstrated its worth on this issue. I am not going to give you chapter and verse on this simply because I cannot be bothered. Suffice to say that the Security Council adopted a binding resolution in 2003 to drop all matters relating to Lockerbie from its future agendas and that, unlike the Security Council, which has international coercive powers, the General Assembly does not. Moreover, the General Assembly requires a two thirds majority majority vote to bring the matter up for inquiry. In 2010 I contacted very member with a seat at the General Assembly individually encouraging them to endorse an inquiry. Result: zilch. It is plain that they shied away from the issue due to there being an extant verdict from a Scottish court. This is a Scottish problem and will be resolved via our own institutions.

    Also, to suggest that the war on Libya was motivated by Lockerbie is frankly akin to the type of risible raving of the likes of Patrick Haseldine when he suggests that 103 was blown up by the South African Government to eliminate Bernt Carlsson. The recent war on Libya was about obtaining oil at our prices (or preferably free), just like the one against Iraq and the 1953 blockade and illegal funding of the overthrow of Mohammed Moussadeq in Iran.

    Grow up buddy and study some of the politics surrounding the conduct of the West towards those countries that 'The good Lord', as Dick Cheney put it, saw fit to locate in countries that we have spent so much time, lives and resources into abusing ever since we decided to become oil junkies to fire our terminally corrupt and rapidly failing economic system.


  3. With due respect, there is a big difference between an individual and Russia raising a subject at the UN.

    And Russia has an interest because the neo-con demonization of ‘Muslims’ impacts on Russian security in the Middle-East and therefore the truth about Lockerbie becomes part of the propaganda war.

    And as reluctant as they normally may be to upset US, in the present circumstances they are prepared to do so. For example, Russian TV recently broadcast a 9/11 truth special to counter US war propaganda.

    And in this global confrontation Lockerbie is too big for Scotland to resolve alone, unless you want to end up like Libya?

    The timeline for US/UK destruction of Libya fits with the progress of PE1370 which got unanimous support after the SNP’s stunning election victory and against all odds keeps Lockerbie a live legal issue.

    Whereas blaming the ‘oil lobby’ is lazy Marxist analysis because,

    •Libyan oil production has collapsed.

    •War pushes up oil prices and damages the world economy.

    •Dick Cheney is the head of a construction rather than oil company and for now the US is independent of oil supplies from the Middle-East!

  4. Dear Dave,

    First of all Marxism. If you knew anything about Karl Marx, you would be aware that he denied any knowledge of such an 'ism' and that he wasn't one. Amongst other works, such as his joint authorship of the Communist Manifesto, he is best known for 'Capital': an analysis of how Capitalism works and a book which even eminent capitalist economists hail as the best such critique ever written, and recommend it as required reading for anyone wishing to endorse the practices of capitalism.

    Secondly, Cheney: "The good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratically elected regimes friendly to the United States. Occasionally we have to operate in places where, all things considered, one would not normally choose to go. But, we go where the business is."
    (Speech delivered at the Cato Institute, June 23, 1998)

    Halliburton was/is one of the biggest oil services companies on the planet, so, to attempt to disassociate him from the black gold is simply deluded. You may also be reassured to know that Halliburton is doubtless still involved in shafting the UK taxpayers with its foothold in the servicing of the UK's nuclear submarine fleet. Until it got the contract via our addiction to privatisation, the company had no experience at all in servicing nuclear reactors.

    War does not ruin the world economy, it enhances the stock market casino by providing the opportunity to provide higher dividends to oil and armament shareholders.

    Russia is laughing up its sleeve every time the west goes to war against mineral rich countries because it allows them to sell more AK 47s. It also permits them to quietly cosh the Muslims in their own oil rich areas without attracting attention because the world's media is otherwise distracted by what we are doing.

    It's the Chinese who are the really smart ones operating silently behind the public spectacles we are creating.

    Whilst Britain is historically one of the most belligerent nations on the planet, even going to war against Spain at one point over the loss of someone's ear! Lockerbie may have been a consideration but I most seriously doubt it; the idea that Lockerbie was a prime mover to the UK's involvement in the recent Libyan conflict is simply bonkers.

    I have little doubt though that the Crown Office will be unable to resist performing one of their now traditional and thoroughly insensitive gestures to mark the occasion of quarter century anniversary by pulling some mutant rabbit out of the hat in true vaudeville style. I imagine that it will probably involve the naming of some other Libyans to incriminate alongside al-Megrahi, and whom they know they will never be able to get their mitts on anyway: probably because they are dead already.

    It is a most interesting point to reflect on here that JFM began campaigning at the end of 2008. In 2009 Christine Grahame asked Chief Constable Shearer how many officers Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary were devoting to the Crown Office's 'live and on-going' investigation. The answer? One. In other words, no more than file management. Since it became apparent to COPFS that JFM that JFM means business and is in this for the long haul, we have had Crown Office visits to Libya and Malta: all of which have been followed by 'No comment'. I can't wait to see what they come out with on 21st December!


  5. PS

    I have lobbied Russia and got nowt in return. The UN has demonstrated a comprehensive lack of interest or willingness to become involve: for reasons mentioned above and more. It may be that Strasbourg could provide some support but, for the meantime, that is for the future. This is an issue generated in Scotland and will be resolved in Scotland. Finally, to say: "this global confrontation Lockerbie is too big for Scotland to resolve alone, unless you want to end up like Libya?" is the most risible notion you have yet suggested. I can only assume it was made in some form of inebriated jest.

  6. I can understand why Marx would want to disassociate himself from his followers but there is a left-wing divide between those who blame the oil lobby and those who blame the neo-con lobby for US military intervention in the Middle-East.

    There are cross-over interests, but whereas the oil lobby prefer a calm environment in which to exploit oil, the neo-cons prefer conflict on behalf of Israel and the arms trade.

    Therefore the on-going conflict indicates that the neo-con lobby has the upper hand, particularly as the US is now oil independent of the Middle-East.

    The ‘false pretence for war’ by Alan J Kuperman debunks the protecting civilians double-speak and the collapse of oil production debunks the oil grab theory.

    The resulting civil war does appear to confirm the promoting conflict explanation, but this wasn’t the intention.

    Instead the US wanted to mis-use the UN Security Council resolution to assassinate Gaddafi quickly and get the new government to take the blame for Lockerbie, by blaming Gaddafi.

    Re. Lockerbie Case – ‘British squeeze rebel council leaders in secret deal for more cash’.

    But the desperation to kill Gaddafi before the time limit set by the US Constitution that required the President to explain to Congress why he was bombing Libya, left a wasteland.

  7. Dear Dave,

    Marx didn't want to disassociate himself from his communist supporters, he simply did not recognise, quite rightly, the existence of a movement called Marxism on the ground that, in his opinion, no such institution, party or philosophy existed that he was responsible for, was aware of, or indeed wished to found since he saw himself as nothing other than a plain ordinary communist.

    He was simply a student of capitalism who took the view that there was a better way in which to run human social and economic interaction. Had he lived to see what the deluded and reprehensible likes of Lenin and Mao, individuals who embraced Fordism, did in their complete egoistic ignorance of what Marx stood for (Fordism being a capitalist practice that Marx would almost certainly have despised and termed 'Alienation', as he did long before Ford ever established his assembly lines - in fact it was a misnomer as the Springfield arms company employed the practices long before Ford), I have not the slightest doubt that Marx would have challenged both Lenin and Mao to a duel: and being something of an accomplished fencer, I have no doubt that Marx would have skewered the reprehensible pair without even breaking sweat. Oh, and, by the way, talking of Marx wanting to disassociate himself from others, the reason he, not long before he died, transferred the movement to the USA was almost certainly to kill it off in order to get it out of the hands of Bakunin.

    I do not know which continent of Zog you hail from, however, you appear to understand little of the psychological driving forces behind human economic relations. You may choose to witter on about Neo-cons and the like, much like I yawn when I listen to people discussing the finer points of what distinguishes Tories, Lib-dems, New Labour and the like from each other, however, there are one or two basics you have to learn. First and foremost, there is not an anorexic cigarette paper's width of difference between their economic policies (they are all totally circumscribed by capitalism); you'd need an electron microscope to establish one (and even them it would be a challenge). Capitalism, like feudalism before it, and classical slavery before that, is based on one thing, and one thing only: surplus value (a principle Marx nicked from David Ricardo MP, however, Ricardoism doesn't quite have the same ring to it as Marxism, don't you think?). The only feature that the capitalist has to play with of any significance is that of variable capital (labour cost), constant capital being more complex to manipulate (This is, of course, why Dyson and the like relocate to the Far East).

    Continued below.

  8. Continuation of the above.

    Humankind, in economic terms at least, has not changed since the year dot. Namely: if you can establish that you have a bigger weapon than your neigbours' you will stand a fairly good chance of enslaving them. This is why the US navy is so gigantic. There is a good reason for this, which goes beyond simply serving the interests of the USA. Some 80 to 90% of capitalist world trade is carried via the world's sea lanes. So in that respect those who subscribe to our current economic system are regrettably indebted to the American taxpayer in this regard. particularly the likes of the UK who cut their own naval budgets and become ever more dependent on the US for their protection.

    And don't delude yourself about US oil independence for one moment. Teheran could shut down the straits of Hormuz in a matter of minutes if they so wished. Are you seriously suggesting that the US reaction would be to sit back, pour out a brandy and light up a cigar?

    The fact is that, preferably, we need free labour. and if we can't get that, at least we must attempt to get away with paying them enough to feed them on sufficient bread and water till they drop off their mortal coils. Let's face it, we've infested the planet with so many of us that they are expendable anyway.

    As far as Lockerbie/Zeist goes, you are so wrong in your approach as to be certifiable. The Crown Office is not going to come up with anything they will be able to put on the table as convincing proof of Libyan guilt or put anyone in the dock come 21st December. All they will do, as they have always done on the previous anniversaries, is to seek to justify their balls up and the maintenance of their charade of fictional investigation by attempting to justify their putrefying rectitude.

    Finally, henceforth on this thread, I refuse to respond on any matter relating to Marx, Communism, Neo-cons or any other half-baked and irrelevant political and economic matters you are attempting to connect with Lockerbie/Zeist and which you seem to be completely ill-informed on. Stick to the issue at hand instead of revealing your ignorance on matters quite unrelated. Being a Flâneur and committee member of the Anarcho-syndicalist Sybarite Party (emphasis on 'party')I find discussions on the conventions of our current political structures tiresome in the extreme.

    Pip, pip,

  9. Thanks to Robert for a most interesting reading - and to Dave for inducing it.

  10. Dear SM,

    Hah, hah! Tis fun, is it not? Many moons ago, the good Prof and I were pondering, over a pint or three of Edinburgh's best IPA, what to do with the blog once we had thrashed the Crown Office into the dust. We came up with the novel solution that it could be devoted to ageing, hedonistic politicos. Maybe that is not such a bad notion after all!

    Pip, pip.

  11. PS
    Actually, now that I remember, the idea was to start a dating agency for ageing, hedonistic politicos. Much more adventurous, don't you think?

  12. Is the AS Sybarite Party a break-away group from the Judean Peoples Front?

    The oil lobby and everyone else would be extremely concerned if Tehran blocked the Straits of Hormuz.

    But not the neo-con lobby who are trying to provoke such an event with their attacks on Iran!

    Also despite its flaws capitalist policy is to buy rather than steal, because if you try to steal rather than buy, production falls due to a refusal to work and sabotage.

    It was recognised long ago that carrots rather than sticks promotes the trade that generates increased wealth.

    And you may not think Lockerbie was a motive, but US/UK both publicly invoked Lockerbie as a justification for their Libyan turkey shoot.

    Except their motive was to close the case by killing Gaddafi and getting the new government to take responsibility for Lockerbie, by blaming Gaddafi!

  13. It's one thing to note that both the US and the UK invoked Lockerbie as partial justification for pushing for regime change in Libya. It's quite another, and totally barking IMO, to suggest that a conspiracy to cover up the miscarriage of justice was the underlying motive for the whole thing.

    For one thing the US have never made any bones about their desire to oust Gaddafi on any pretext whatsoever.

    And for another I'm sure the righteous anger within the two governments over Lockerbie was genuine. As far as they're concerned, an investigation was held which fingered Libya, and Megrahi was convicted by due process of law. So anyone who disagrees is a conspiracy theorist. There have been honourable exceptions in the UK and Scottish parliaments, of course, but for the mass of our leaders it would take something seismic to get them to question the official story.

    Now, Dr Kerr's book has potential to do this, but I think it would have to be taken up by the media - if Panorama or Dispatches would run with it we may have a chance; for anything less I fear it would be water off a duck's back.

    There's also the hope that Patrick Shearer will be convinced by JfM's arguments and have sufficient courage to say that he has come to believe that the investigation was in error and hence to doubt the safety of the conviction. That's a big step for a senior officer to take.

    Ultimately, all this is just a 'softening up' process: at some point there will have to be a further appeal. If we can create the right climate of opinion, the Cadder legislation will be no obstacle.

  14. Gaddafi was the original Arab anti-Zionist bogeyman on the US wanted list, but many years ago he gave up pan-Arabism for pan-Africanism, paid compensation for Lockerbie and became an ally of the ‘West’ against Al-Qaeda.

    So why would the US suddenly decide to miss-use a UN Security Council resolution and assist Al-Qaeda in inflicting regime change in Libya that has left a waste-land?

    Why the desperation to assassinate Gaddafi?

  15. US/UK wanted Gaddafi killed quickly to derail PE1370.

    They wanted to say to the Justice Committee ‘what’s the point of pursuing this matter when those responsible (the new Libyan government) have admitted their guilt’.

    Politically, this would have been enough cover for a ‘Unionist' justice committee to drop the case.

    Except following the stunning SNP victory Christine Grahame became Chairman and they voted to keep PE1370 alive before Gaddafi was killed.

    No doubt because the extraordinary miscarriage of justice is obvious to all those required to look!

    And now that PE1370 has been passed unanimously it is not a matter that any self-respecting justice committee can now drop.

  16. Dear Dave,

    Yes, yes, I know all about the US and UK invoking Lockerbie as justification etc: as was so opportunely exemplified by the likes of Jason McCue and his ilk. But, like I say, if you think that Lockerbie was the prime motivation, you are, as you so frequently demonstrate, living on Cloud Cuckoo Land. This is also demonstrated by the fact that you think gangsters prefer to use carrots rather than sticks. The very basis of imperialism is the stick, and has been thus from Alexander through Tamerlane, Hitler and up to current so called 'democracies'. I don't know which history books you are reading but they certainly aren't the same ones that I do.

    Insofar as the origins of the Anarcho-syndicalist Sybarite Party go, it is a refreshingly redeeming feature that you are clearly a fan of Monty Python (although I don't greatly like them other than the soft spot I have for the works of Terry Gilliam). In fact, come to think of it, I imagine that he would be an ideal person to make a film on Zeist! What a jolly splendid notion.


  17. QR wrote:
    "Actually, now that I remember, the idea" [when a certain authority has been closed down] "was to start a dating agency for ageing, hedonistic politicos. Much more adventurous, don't you think?"

    I was a bit afraid to answer this one, as hardworking altruistic and socially responsible people like myself take a special pride in having no clue about what "hedonistic" means.

    As this word is usually only seen in context with naughty movies (I have been told).
    And I don't ever recall hearing about any old greek Hedon in school (and with this subject I am sure I'd have paid attention).

    But after looking it up, I find the philosophy appealing.

    "Ethical hedonism is the idea that all people have the right to do everything in their power to achieve the greatest amount of pleasure possible to them. It is also the idea that every person's pleasure should far surpass their amount of pain. Ethical hedonism is said to have been started by a student of Socrates, Aristippus of Cyrene. He held the idea that pleasure is the highest good."

    Cool! Why did my mom never teach me about that? What´s so fun about peace, love and understanding.

    So after having considered pro and contra about your suggestion I finally reached a conclusion which may be best expressed this way:


  18. Dear SM,

    Welcome to the party! It can still be naughty if you want though. Me, I quite enjoy just dressing up in a pickelhaube and not much else at our random annual conventions, but don't tell Frank that or we'll end up with all sorts of scandalous front pages!

    Pip, pip.

  19. The cover-up is always worse than the lie, because it incites more crimes and more lies to hide the original lie.

    And that has happened over Lockerbie. So much so, that even a Lord Advocate cannot answer a simply question.

    Now it would be reasonable to ask why an establishment confession cannot be made, but to do so would bring their legitimacy and official zeitgeist into question.

    Instead they just hope the whole business will be lost in time like the Iraq enquiry. And without PE1370 Megrahi’s release would have been the official end of the Lockerbie Case.

    And that’s why Lockerbie was the prime motivation for the assassination of Gaddafi.