Thursday, 8 May 2014

For the sake of the families, appeal over Megrahi's conviction should be expedited

[This is the heading over a letter from Iain A D Mann published in today’s edition of The Herald.  It reads as follows:]

It is good that a group of British relatives of 25 victims of the Lockerbie disaster, led by Dr Jim Swire, have decided to ask the Scottish Criminal Cases Review [Commission] (SCCR[C]) to instigate a further appeal against the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am Fight 103 ("Families in bid to overturn Megrahi conviction", The Herald, May 7).

After more than 25 years, it is high time a court was presented with all the relevant evidence.

The immediate response of the Crown Office was disappointing but entirely predictable. "We will vigorously defend the original trial verdict" shows it seems still to be more concerned with protecting the reputation of the Scottish criminal justice system than in making sure that justice was done.

It is also disappointing that the Justice Minister and Scottish Government continue to take the same line. It is now clear that there are many justifiable doubts about the safety of the original verdict of the Camp Zeist trial. Surely it is essential that all the relevant evidence is available for consider­ation and challenge in a court of law?

In its comprehensive report some years ago the SCCR[C] identified no fewer than six possible reasons why there could have been a miscarriage of justice in the original verdict.

The trial judges were not aware that some vital evidence known to the prosecution was withheld from Megrahi's defence team, or that the British and American Secret Services had refused to release important documents.

They did not know that the CIA had promised the principal witness $2m and a new life in Australia if he identified Megrahi as a casual visitor to his Malta shop several years earlier, and that he was shown photographs of Megrahi before identifying him in court.

The judges were not told that the tiny piece of electronic detonator claimed to be part of the explosive device was found by an American secret service agent in a field near Lockerbie a full six months after the area had already been exhaustively searched, and that there are some serious doubts about its authen­ticity. And they were not told that on the night before Pan Am 103 took off on its tragic flight, there had been an unexplained break-in at the Heathrow onward baggage terminal which for some reason was not made public at the time.

While each of these pieces of information might not seem very significant in itself, together they would surely have been enough to establish at least a reasonable doubt in the minds of the three judges.

The sooner all this evidence is formally presented in an appeal court, the sooner the grieving families of those who lost their lives in this appalling act of mass murder can finally know the truth about who was or was not responsible.

1 comment:

  1. I was a bit baffled by Mr Mann's claim that the Court wasn't told that a tiny piece of electronic detonator was found by an American secret service agent six months after the area had been exhaustively searched. Is he just making this up?