Without wishing to detract from the merits of the fine contributions of Iain McKie and Thomas Crooks (Letters, 27 November) regarding the Lockerbie witness reward monies, I was convinced that the trial was a farce long before the reward information was made public.
My disgust at the trial proceedings came when the United Nations appointed observer, Professor Hans Koechler published his first report in 2003 and criticised the interference in the presentation of evidence to the court by representatives of foreign governments.
Reporting on the appeal, Prof Koechler was similarly critical, to which the Crown Office responded by stating that it is a matter for the court itself to regulate who should be present. Explaining that the High Court of Justiciary has, “for long accepted that it is a matter for the Lord Advocate and Crown Counsel whom they choose to have in court in their support”.
Of course, the Crown Office can do as they like, but they should not be surprised if by having anonymous United States officials supervising in the dock of a Scottish court they have abandoned any hope of appearing impartial in a political sense.
That was how Prof Koechler saw it and we shouldn’t be surprised if the world (excluding the US) views the Lockerbie trial and appeal verdicts as the work of Uncle Sam via a puppet state.
[I overlooked Thomas Crooks’s letter yesterday. Here it now is:]
In the context of the Lockerbie trial, a Maltese newspaper has published extracts of police documents that said Mr Gauci had “a clear desire to gain financial benefit” from his evidence.
Documents released since the trial have repeatedly suggested the Gaucis expressed an interest in being paid for their testimony under the Reward for Justice programme controlled by the Department of Justice in the US.
A senior investigator in the inquiry has conceded that the brothers would have known about possible payments, but that nothing was offered before the trial and it had “never been discussed with them at any time prior to the trial – so it’s absolutely above board. There is no suggestion that there was anything underhand. It was all above board.”
After the trial, the senior investigator wrote to the US Department of Justice to recommend the pair receive a reward because he said the Gaucis fitted the criteria.
Last month the Crown Office stated: “No witness was offered any inducement by the Crown or the Scottish police before and during the trial and there is no evidence that any other law enforcement agency offered such an inducement.”
Arguably, no direct “inducement” was required. The Gaucis would have known they “fitted the criteria” for the reward. They had, before the trial, in the context of the justice programme, imbued their “evidence” with a monetary value.
The entire proceedings were scented with the aroma of reward – and it is arguable that the aroma scented the quality of the evidence provided by the brothers. Any jurisdiction with a reputation for the pursuit of justice would be concerned with the implications of such an aroma.
In this jurisdiction, the integrity of the proceedings reign supreme – irrespective of the objective material that points to the possibility of a colossal miscarriage of justice.