Sunday, 30 August 2015

Megrahi to Senussi "I am an innocent man"

[What follows is excerpted from an article published in The Wall Street Journal on this date in 2011:]

Convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi maintained his innocence in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 throughout his trial and appeals—and did so in a private letter to Libya's intelligence chief, discovered on Monday in intelligence headquarters in Tripoli.

"I am an innocent man," Mr Megrahi wrote to Abdullah al-Senussi, a powerful official who was regarded as one of Col Moammar Gadhafi's closest aides, in a letter found by The Wall Street Journal. The letter, in blue ink on a piece of ordinary binder paper, was apparently written while Mr Megrahi was serving a life sentence in the UK.
In August 2009, after serving 8½ years, Mr Megrahi was released to Libya on compassionate grounds on the basis that he had terminal prostate cancer and only a few months to live. (...)
The letter to Mr Senussi was found in a steel, four-drawer filing cabinet in the intelligence chief's office in Tripoli. The cabinet had been forced open, apparently by rebels who shot holes in the lock. The office lay in shambles, but many of Mr Senussi's personal papers appeared untouched. There was no way to immediately confirm the authenticity of the letter. (...)
Mr Megrahi was sentenced by a Scottish court to life imprisonment in 2001. In the letter to Mr Senussi, Mr Megrahi mentions that he had been jailed for seven years, suggesting it was written sometime in early 2008 or late 2007, in the run up to the second appeal of his conviction.
It is unclear why he would have had reason to profess his innocence to Mr Senussi, who was in a position to already know details about the bombing. (...)
Mr Megrahi insisted he was innocent throughout his original trial and subsequent appeals. Even after his conviction, mystery and unanswered questions about who else may have been involved have surrounded the case.
In the letter, addressed to "My dear brother Abdullah," Mr Megrahi blamed his conviction on "fraudulent information that was relayed to investigators by Libyan collaborators."
He blamed "the immoral British and American investigators" who he writes "knew there was foul play and irregularities in the investigation of the 1980s."
He described in detail his latest legal maneuvering, focusing on the testimony by a Maltese clothes merchant that was critical to his conviction. The Maltese clothes merchant in question testified that Mr Megrahi had purchased clothes from him that were later found in the suitcase that contained the bomb that brought down Flight 103.
"You my brother know very well that they were making false claims against me and that I didn't buy any clothes at all from any store owner in Malta," Mr Megrahi wrote to Mr Senussi.
Mr Megrahi also had a message for "our big brother," a likely reference to Col Gadhafi, "that our legal affairs are excellent and we now stand on very solid ground."
"Send my regards to our big brother and his family and by the will of God we will meet soon and we will be victorious," he wrote. "I only hope that the financial support will continue in the coming period," he added.
Mr Megrahi eventually dropped his appeal as a condition of his application for extradition to Libya.


  1. In August 2009, after serving 8½ years....

    Megrahi served over ten years in jail - from early April 1999 to 20th August 2009. Why do multiple sources keep referring to shorter periods? It's as if they want to minimise the punishment he suffered.

    It is unclear why he would have had reason to profess his innocence to Mr Senussi, who was in a position to already know details about the bombing.

    Unless, of course, neither Megrahi nor Senoussi nor Libya had anything to do with it. Which is entirely compatible with the evidence available.

    Mr Megrahi eventually dropped his appeal as a condition of his application for extradition to Libya.

    Uh, yes, I rather think that is probably the case.

  2. "It is unclear why he would have had reason to profess his innocence to Mr Senussi, who was in a position to already know details about the bombing. (...)"

    When something evil is (assumed to be) done by people associated with our enemies we are immediately willing to think that it is a policy, an action originating from the highest level from these bad people.

    Reported rapes by ISIS are, of course, a sign of an official suppression policy, supported by distorted religious motives (so we can see they are hopeless all the way, only solution is to bomb them), while our rapes and torture are, of course, the sad wrongdoing by a few misguided individuals (so all in all, we are still the good guys).

    There is enough hate, bitterness, interests, madness and anger, justified or not, on the planet for small groups to take their own initiatives.

    You need zero help from your government to put explosives on an airplane. We do not assume that Timothy McVeigh needed and got help at the highest level, do we?
    But again, had he been of some 'rougue nationality', well, we would all know how it had worked, wouldn't we?

    Accused individuals may just see the need to state "Hey, just to let you know: it wasn't me.". Also to those we believe is 'in a position to know' already.

  3. I believe the theory that Iran was behind it, holds much weight. They were apoplectic and understandably bitter about the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 by the USS battleship Vincennes a mere five months before the Lockerbie atrocity. All 290 souls aboard 655 perished.

    Whereas I'm unsure of Meghari's innocence (possibly operating as a free agent), I find it hard to believe that the Libyan state had a greater reason to cause this carnage to an American airliner than Iran did.

    1. Megrahi has a better alibi for Lockerbie than I have, as it happens.

      The investigators firmly believed the bomb was introduced into the airline baggage system at Luqa airport on Malta, and Megrahi happened to be at Luqa airport (catching a flight to Tripoli) at the salient time. Even then, the court heard no evidence that he went airside, or that he even could have gone airside, or that he could possibly have got an unaccompanied suitcase on to a flight he wasn't travelling on. Indeed, the court heard considerable evidence that there was in fact no unaccompanied or illegitimate luggage on the flight in question.

      They convicted Megrahi anyway, mainly on the basis of the spurious identification of him as the man who bought the clothes from Tony Gauci, and the inference that if he had bought the clothes in the bomb suitcase and he was at the airport when the cops believed the bomb had been smuggled on to KM180, he "must have had something to do with it".

      However, evidence has now been uncovered which proves definitively that the bomb was actually introduced into the baggage system directly at Heathrow airport. It didn't fly on KM180 at all. It wasn't anywhere near Luqa airport on the morning of 21st December. Megrahi was, and by the afternoon of that day (the time when the crime was actually committed, in London) he was verifiably in Tripoli. A thousand miles away.

      He also has no other criminal record, no history of involvement in terrorism, and contrary to the assertions of Giaka (see Monday's blog post) he wasn't a Libyan security officer. He was just some guy. "They exaggerated my name."

      So, he can't have done it because he has an alibi, and there's no evidence at all that he was the sort of person who might have engaged in that sort of activity. I'm perfectly sure of his innocence, as much as one can be sure of anything in this life.