Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Hands up, all who remember Moussa Koussa!

Three years ago the news media were full of reports and speculation about the defection and arrival in the United Kingdom of Moussa Koussa, then Foreign Minister in the Gaddafi regime.  Here is an excerpt from a post on this blog dated 1 April 2011:

[Reports in today's edition of The Times (accessible only by subscribers) contain the following:]

Scottish police and prosecutors are seeking to interview Moussa Koussa, the defecting Libyan Foreign Minister, raising the prospect of resolving once and for all the truth about the Lockerbie bombing.

Officials at the Crown Office, Scotland’s prosecuting authority, last night contacted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office saying they wished to speak to Mr Koussa in connection with the attack on Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988, which led to the death of 270 people.

Meanwhile Patrick Shearer, the chief constable of Dumfries and Galloway Police, the force which is still investigating the atrocity, said it would be unusual if they did not seek the opportunity to speak to “a senior member of the Government in Libya”.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in response to the Scottish authorities, gave a strong indication that Scottish detectives would be allowed to question him. He told a news conference: “The investigation is still open. They should follow their investigation wherever it leads and we will respond to any request they make.”

However, in an unusual intervention, Whitehall officials insisted that Mr Koussa was not the “prime suspect” over Lockerbie. The Government also failed to rule out the possibility that he might leave the country before lengthy investigations by the International Criminal Court are complete. [RB: surprise, surprise!] (...)

Moussa Koussa visited Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi in Greenock Prison where he was serving his life sentence, it emerged yesterday.

Official documents reveal that, at a meeting with Scottish officials in Glasgow in January 2009, he warned that al-Megrahi had only a few months to live, and said that if he were to die in a Scottish prison it “would not be viewed well by the Muslims or the Arabs”. The minute indicates that Mr Koussa also made it clear that it would “not be good for relations” between the UK and Libya. That such a senior figure in the Libyan administration should have had access to al-Megrahi, and have exerted pressure on Scottish officials, will further convince those who opposed the Libyan’s return, that there was more to his release than compassion.

Mr Koussa, it has emerged, met Scottish Government officials twice — in late 2008 and again in early 2009 — after al-Megrahi had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Curiously, in the minutes of the first meeting on October 27, 2008, which included Foreign Office and Scottish Government officials as well as three Libyans, Mr Koussa is referred to as an “interpreter”. At a meeting in Glasgow on January 22, 2009, attended by six Libyans and four Scottish government officials, Mr Koussa is referred to as “Minister for Security” and the minutes shows that he intervened to draw attending to al-Megrahi’s illness. The minute goes on: “He (Koussa) spoke of al-Megrahi’s medical condition and that he feels that he only has a few months left.”

It was made clear by the Scottish Government last night that although officials had met him, Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Minister who in August 2009 released al-Megrahi, had had no direct contact with Mr Koussa.

Scottish campaigners who met Mr Koussa during their decades spent fighting for the truth about the Lockerbie bombing have told The Times that they found him more frightening than Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. And they said that they gleaned from encounters with the former Libyan foreign minister that, if the country were responsible for the explosion of Pan Am flight 103, then “his fingerprints will be all over it”.

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter, Flora, was one of the 270 people killed, said he met Mr Koussa in 1991. “I realised straight away that he was a central figure who had everything at his fingertips and was a chief executive in deciding what would happen in the country.”

Two years later, Robert Black, the Scottish QC who was the architect of the trial at Camp Zeist, went to meet Mr Koussa — the first of about nine encounters over 16 years. “The Libyans were very frightened of him. That was transparently obvious. Moussa would come into the hotel where I was staying and I could see everyone else, all the Libyans ... it was as if a shiver was going down their spines.”

“Certainly if Libya was involved in Lockerbie in any capacity then I have no doubt at all that Moussa Koussa knows about it,” said the lawyer. “If Libya was involved then it will have Moussa Koussa’s fingerprints all over it.”

1 comment:

  1. Allowing Moussa Koussa to enter and leave the UK is otherwise known as ‘de-briefing a state asset’!