Tuesday, 30 June 2015

"I was not involved in the Lockerbie bombing in any way whatsoever"

[This is the headline over a report published in The Tripoli Post on this date in 2007. It reads as follows:]

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi renewed his assertion that he is innocent after the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) said he "may have suffered a miscarriage of justice" based on new evidence.

"I reiterate today what I have been saying since I was first indicted in 1991: I was not involved in the Lockerbie bombing in any way whatsoever," he said in a statement.

The SCCRC referred his case to the Appeal Court in Edinburgh, Scotland's highest court, which could eventually quash his conviction, throwing the case wide open and reviving speculation as to who was behind the bombing.

Megrahi, who applied for the SCCRC review, welcomed the panel's decision, saying through his lawyer that he "shall finally be recognised as an innocent man" once the entire legal process is completed.

Megrahi, now 55, was convicted by a trio of Scottish judges sitting in a special court in the Netherlands of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988 by means of a bomb smuggled on board in a suitcase. He was jailed for a total of 27 years.

Megrahi added there was little he could say to relatives of the victims that risked sounding "insensitive" but said that "their cause is in no way served by the incarceration of an innocent man."

The SCCRC led a three-year international probe starting in 2004, interviewing 45 witnesses -- including Megrahi and Libyan co-accused Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah who was cleared -- during inquiries in Britain, Malta, Libya and Italy.

In a statement summarizing the 800-page review which was not published, the panel said it had identified six grounds where it believed "a miscarriage of justice may have occurred."

It found there was no "reasonable basis" for the original trial court's finding that various items of clothing linked to the bomb suitcase were bought from a shop in Malta on December 7, 1988. Although it had been proved that Megrahi had been in Malta several times that month, evidence at the trial was that December 7 was the only date on which he would have been able to buy the items.

Mohammed al-Zwai, a Libyan official dealing with the Lockerbie issue and former ambassador to Britain and current Libyan ambassador to Morocco, said in a statement: "The decision opens the door of hope regarding the innocence of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi ... This decision will have good consequences."

"This legal decision will have some positive effects on relations between Libya and the European Union," al-Zwai, told AFP. "There will be more flexibility over all the dossiers on hold between the EU and Libya," added Zwai. said the Scottish panel's decision "opens the door of hope for an acquittal".

A previous appeal by Al-Megrahi, who is being held in a jail near Glasgow, western Scotland, was thrown out in 2002.

Jim Swire, a doctor who lost his daughter Flora in the bombing, said the decision opened a "new chapter" in the nearly 19-year search for the truth for the victims' families.

Swire told BBC radio: "I went into that court in Holland thinking I was going to see the trial of those who were responsible for the murder of my daughter.

"I came out thinking he had been framed. I'm very much afraid that we saw steps taken to ensure that a politically-desired result was obtained."

[A long profile of Jim and Jane Swire was published in The Herald on the same date.  It can be read here.]

1 comment:

  1. And yet we were constantly being told by the media that we'd find out the real truth about Lockerbie after Megrahi died. Nobody ever explained how that was going to happen. Did they imagine he was going to tell all about it in his will or something? How could someone who had nothing to do with the atrocity possibly reveal anything?

    And yet the BBC seized on a bad translation of something he said in Arabic to label it a "deathbed confession". He said, "they exaggerated my name". Meaning that they made him out to be some sort of spy, security operative, a Mr. Big of the Gaddafi regime. When he was just some guy trying to get by. The BBC decided he had said "they exaggerated my role in the bombing", and that was then picked up and plastered all over the papers.

    Once upon a time I thought the BBC was a quality outfit. When I look at the mad spinning they've been indulging in since at least 2004, I wonder how I could ever had been so blind.