[An article published today on the website of the Maltese newspaper The Independent reads as follows:]
The statement made by Foreign Minister George Vella on Tuesday – that he believes that Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in 1988, is innocent – is not totally new.
In an article he had written for The Malta Independent on Sunday on 6 September 2009, Mr Vella, then the Labour Party;s spokesman for foreign affairs, had given much more than a hint that he thought Megrahi was not responsible for the attack that brought down the Pan-Am flight 103 over the Scottish village, killing all 259 people on board and another 11 on the ground.
In the article, reproduced in the link below, Dr Vella had express serious doubts on how correct the decision taken by the Scottish courts had been.
“Serious doubts also emerged as to how reliable and how truthful certain witnesses were. Everything was pointing in the direction of a new trial, which most probably would have exculpated Mr al-Megrahi.
“In all probability it would also have shattered once and for all the theory that the luggage containing the bomb that caused the disaster had been loaded at Malta airport,” Dr Vella had written.
Dr Vella's statement on Tuesday was however made as Foreign Minister, and this could somewhat be received differently, especially by the United States.
Dr Vella is the top favourite to be named President of the Republic when Dr George Abela's term expires in April.