Saturday, 4 July 2015

Questions still need answering

[This is the headline over an editorial in today’s edition of the Morning Star. It reads as follows:]

Yesterday’s ruling by the Appeal Court in Edinburgh against Lockerbie family survivors’ bid to challenge the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi cannot be the last word.

Lord Justice Clerk Lord Carloway ruled that the law was “not designed to give relatives of victims a right to proceed in an appeal for their own or the public interest.”

But, if so, there has to be another mechanism to deliver justice not only to Megrahi’s family but also the relatives of all 270 people murdered on December 21 1988 when a bomb blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.

The Morning Star has made no secret of its longstanding disquiet over the legal charade that led to the Libyan security official’s conviction.

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was among the casualties, has been relentless in his efforts to discover the truth, meeting the scapegoat before he died and continuing to campaign after Megrahi’s death.

He has refused to be fobbed off by official opacity and convenient but clearly flawed legal proceedings.

US and British authorities have offered differing explanations of how Flight 103 met its fate.

Their first thesis was that the atrocity was a revenge attack masterminded by elements within the theocratic regime in Tehran in response to the shooting down by a US warship of an Iranian civilian passenger plane over the Persian Gulf in July 1988, killing all 290 people on board.

The crime was said to have been contracted out to a Palestinian splinter group, but this theory, proclaimed with great authority, fizzled out in the run-up to the first Iraq war in 1990.

When Washington began building a coalition to oppose Saddam Hussein’s invasion and planned annexation of Kuwait, Iran was persuaded to jump on board.

In contrast, Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi threw his country’s support behind Iraq.

Tripoli rapidly filled the scapegoat pigeonhole vacated by Iran, with US “intelligence” agents concocting an implausible scenario that involved Megrahi and other Libyan officials placing a bomb on Flight 103 in Malta.

The real conspiracy, that undertaken by US spooks, included bribery of Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci to testify that he remembered Megrahi buying clothing in his shop shortly before the flight, fragments of which were discovered in the wreckage around Lockerbie.

The approach of most British MPs to what is self-evidently a miscarriage of justice has been one of indifference.

Their attitude reflects a viewpoint that the key players — victims and supposed perpetrator — are all dead, so move on.

Some point out that Gadaffi stumped up $2.5 billion in compensation for the families of those killed in the bombing, but this ignores the fact that this payment was a quid quo pro for the US and its allies dropping their embargo of Libya and resuming trade and investment links.

It was as cynical a payoff as the CIA agents’ sweetener to their Maltese “witness.”

Dr Swire is as intent as ever on finding out what really happened, pointing out last year that his daughter “was brutally murdered in a situation where it’s clear that the national protection security services had abysmally failed.

“Do you not think that even 25 years later you might want to feel that you had a status in discovering the truth about who murdered her and why she was not protected?”

Whatever the finer points of interpretation over the design of current law, too many questions still remain over Lockerbie for the grass to be allowed to grow over this inquiry.

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