A commentary on the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted of the murder of 270 people in the Pan Am 103 disaster.
Tuesday, 11 February 2014
Lockerbie bombing inquiry: lawyer warns police over al-Senussi interview
[This is the headline over an article in yesterday’s edition of The Guardian. It reads as follows:]
Interviewing potential suspect in Tripoli jail without lawyer would break precedent, Scotland's lord advocate told
The British lawyer for Libya's former intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, has called on Scottish police not to interview him as part of a newLockerbie bombinginquiry without a lawyer being present.
Scottish detectives are due to interview Senussi, once the right-hand man ofMuammar Gaddafi, hoping he can provide details of the bombing that killed 270 people in December 1988.
Last monthScotland's lord advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, visited Tripoli to arrange details of the visit after Libya dropped earlier objections.
But Ben Emmerson QC, appointed to represent Senussi by the international criminal court (ICC), said Libya has so far refused him permission to visit his client.
In a letter to Mulholland, Emmerson said detectives are in danger of breaking Scottish precedent if Senussi, a potential Lockerbie suspect, is interviewed in his Tripoli jail cell without a lawyer.
He wrote: "Mr Al-Senussi has been held incommunicado without access to legal advice in respect of any proceedings. I am certain that you would wish any interview to be conducted between Mr Al-Senussi and Scottish police officers to be scrupulously fair, putting its admissibility in subsequent proceedings beyond any doubt."
Scottish police are hoping Senussi, Gaddafi's spy chief for most of the dictator's 42-year-rule, can answer questions about the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 that have eluded investigators for quarter of a century.
A senior member of Emerson's legal team, Amal Alamuddin, said: "Any new inquiry into the events surrounding Lockerbie needs to be scrupulously fair, and this needs to start with Mr Senussi being given legal counsel during any interview with Scottish law officers."
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the bombing, died in 2012 in Libya protesting his innocence.
Libya has appointed two officers to work with Scottish and American Lockerbie investigators, with the justice minister, Salah al-Marghani, saying: "We should know everything about what happened."
Senussi, indicted by the Hague for crimes against humanity, was captured in Mauritania after fleeing Libya after the 2011 Arab spring revolution. He was extradited to Libya and last year went on trial, amid tight security, accused of crimes committed during the revolution.
Emmerson, who represented the Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, is also appealing against the ICC's decision in October that Libya could take the Senussi case, arguing that the country's turmoil raises doubts about its ability to hold a fair trial.
[Posted from Middelpos, Northern Cape, South Africa.]