Friday, 16 October 2015

“Great – but let’s see what the evidence is"

[What follows is the text of an article published in today’s edition of The National:]

Lockerbie campaigner Dr Jim Swire last night called on investigators to reveal the evidence levelled at two new suspects.
Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the 1988 bombing, has repeatedly criticised the handling of the enquiry over the years, maintaining the innocence of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and insisting that Scottish authorities bungled the investigation.
Last night he welcomed the news that two new suspects had been identified as Scottish police and the FBI requested permission from Libyan authorities to conduct formal interviews in Tripoli.
However, he said the failure of judges to allow the families of victims of the atrocity to pursue an appeal on behalf of Megrahi had created a “difficult situation”.
The Libyan was released from Greenock Prison on compassionate grounds and died of cancer in May 2012 after serving eight-and-a-half years of a life sentence.
Reacting to the development, Swire, who leads the Justice for Megrahi campaign, said: “Great – but let’s see what the evidence is against them. Of course we want to know who killed our family members – we still believe that no one has been held to account for Lockerbie as we think the conviction against Megrahi is unsound.”
Prosecutors have always maintained Megrahi did not act alone and the two new suspects are said to have aided him in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which claimed 270 lives.
Swire told the BBC: “I think there is a need for evidence to be made available as to why these two are suspects.
“We have recently been refused permission in Scotland to have a further appeal held into Megrahi’s conviction, and many in this country simply don’t believe Megrahi was involved and that this was a miscarriage of justice.
“To try and bolt two more names on top of that is a very difficult situation. It will need to be supported by better evidence than was produced to achieve the conviction of Megrahi.”
The opinions of the families of Lockerbie victims remains split on the issue of Megrahi’s guilt, but both sides have been critical of the authorities in their handling of the investigation.
Yesterday US citizen Susan Cohen, whose daughter Theodora was amongst those killed, said: “I’m delighted that they are doing this. We, the American families, have been pressing and pressing for the bombing to be properly investigated.
“I want to make it clear that I think Megrahi did it but the trial was framed too narrowly.
“The governments have been dragging their feet and they should have been looking for other people involved, because it wasn’t just Megrahi.”
The development follows the US broadcast of a three-part series into the Lockerbie bombing. My Brother’s Bomber followed filmmaker Ken Dornstein’s search for answers into the death of his older brother David, one of 189 Americans killed.
In the series, Dornstein honed in on 10 individuals ranging from dictator Muammar Gaddafi to Edwin Bollier, whose Swiss company, MEBO, made the timer believed to have detonated the bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103. Brian Murtaugh, the top US prosecutor in the case against Megrahi, told Dornstein: “The case isn’t finished, because all those responsible for the crime have not been identified and prosecuted, much less convicted.”
Retired FBI agent Richard Marquise, who helped lead the international investigation, said: “Lockerbie is still an open case. If I was writing the novel version, we would have identified not only the people who put the bomb on the plane, but those who ordered it up the chain of command.”
This week Rev John Mosey, whose teenage daughter Helga died in the bombing, spoke to families seeking justice for loved ones killed when the Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down over Ukraine that they face a battle for truth.
He said: “I’ve told them I hope in their countries the politicians can’t control the legal system, which is what happened here [in Britain]. That is what they’ll be up against.”
[An editorial in the same newspaper reads as follows:]
For many the night Pan Am 103 exploded over Lockerbie seems like an age ago. The world has moved so much in the years since then.
Scotland has changed. Libya has changed.
And yet for many that night is still fresh. The sights and sounds still painfully sharp.
And at the heart of those memories, is the fact that we still do not know exactly what happened, why it happened and who was responsible.
There are those who wish al-Megrahi had stayed in prison.
Even though it was widely accepted that he wasn’t guilty, plenty thought we should accept al-Megrahi as a close substitute.
It would have been easy to do just that.
Yet, it is the relatives of the people who died that night who have been unwilling to accept the convenience of al-Megrahi.
Not al-Megrahi’s relatives, lost in the quagmire of Libya in 2015. Scared of what might happen.
But the families of those who were on the plane and who were in Lockerbie are unwilling to accept the compromise. Those families feel let down by the legal system, the government and are, understandably, unwilling to trust what they are told by their political leaders.
Yesterday they have been given another shot of hope as Scottish prosecutors seek to interview two new individuals suspected of being involved, along with al-Megrahi, in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
For the families it seemed as if we have moved one step closer to finding out the truth.
Though with Libya in chaos, this may not be as easy as it seems.
The repercussions of that night are still being felt across the world.
They define Scotland’s relationship with the US. They impact on Daesh.
For the sake of those of died and those who survived them, and the sake of moving on, the truth must come out.
[A report in The Herald can be read here; and a report in The Scotsman here.]


  1. Has anyone in the UK been able to watch the Dornstein documentary? I watched the first part in Spain where it was widely available on a number of websites including the PBS Frontline site. Since returning to the UK, all those sites say that the programme is unavailable for copyright reasons. Does anyone in the UK have access?

    1. If I'd realised that I'd have tried to watch while I was in Greece a couple of weeks ago. No dice in Scotland.

  2. Part 1, 49 min., is on good old YT

  3. It's three hours of your life you will never get back! He doesn't follow the evidence. He follows the instructions of Henderson, Murtagh, Marquise & Co. Bet he didn't ring your doorbell Rolfe.
    You can access the videos at PBS but you need to get your computer to go through a proxy to pretend to their website you are based in USA.