Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Redeeming Scotland's reputation for justice and humanity

What follows is taken from an item posted on this blog four years ago on this date:

Doubts remain over Megrahi’s guilt because of payments made to ‘star’ witnesses

[This is the heading over a letter from Dr Jim Swire in today's edition of The Herald. It reads as follows:]

There has been widespread condemnation from the United States, in particular, of Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill’s decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

This condemnation must presuppose that the man was, indeed, guilty of playing a part in the Lockerbie atrocity, yet America is silent concerning the findings of Scotland’s Criminal Cases Review Commission, which indicated that there may have been a miscarriage of justice.

It may be an uncomfortable exercise for the senators, but perhaps they should don their reading glasses and look a lot closer to home. If they will examine the website of their own Rewards for Justice Program in Washington DC, they will find Megrahi’s name among those brought to “justice” by disbursement of RfJ funds.

If they will then look at the website set up on behalf of Megrahi by his defence team, they will find extracts from a policeman’s diary kept during the investigations into Lockerbie on the island of Malta.

These extracts show that the policeman knew that the shopkeeper Tony Gauci, who later claimed haltingly to identify Megrahi in court as the buyer of the clothes, (remains of which were found at the crash site), was increasingly aware of, and excited by, the offer of substantial reward for him if he would give evidence leading to the conviction of Megrahi. All this, of course, long before Mr Gauci actually did give his evidence in court.

If the proprietor of a small Glasgow clothing store, struggling to feed his family, were to be told that if he gave evidence that he had seen a certain individual buy clothes from his shop some years before, he would receive a gift of $2m, would you trust his evidence? The senators might also like to look at the material surrounding a witness known as Giaka, alleged, in the run up to the trial, to be a “star” witness, but who was shown in court to have been on the payroll of the CIA from before Lockerbie and whose evidence was, therefore, seen as suspect by the court. They might also demand a sight of the suite of CIA cables surrounding this man.

Nor need Westminster feel virtuous. Why did the Metropolitan Police investigation into the break-in at Heathrow the night before Lockerbie remain hidden until after the verdict had been reached? The Crown Office has told me it knew nothing about this until after the verdict.

Why did Lady Thatcher write in 1993 in her memoirs, The Downing Street Years, that, following her support for the USAF bombing of Tripoli and Bengazi in 1986 (two years before Lockerbie) “… there was a marked decline in Libyan-sponsored terrorism in succeeding years”.

We see that Scotland, to whom the solemn task of trying the accused was passed, was on the receiving end of external political interference in what should have been a purely criminal case.

If the senators want to know the truth about this appalling atrocity, let them throw their weight behind the need for a process to be set up within Scotland, objectively to review the case against Megrahi.

Only we ourselves, in the absence of Megrahi’s appeal, can redeem our country’s reputation for justice and humanity, and ensure that our own citizens are protected by a wise and independent judicial system.

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