Sunday, 15 November 2015

Crown granted Abu Talb immunity from prosecution

[What follows is the report by Glasgow University’s Lockerbie Trial Briefing Unit on proceedings at Camp Zeist on this date in 2000. It can be accessed here:]

Lord Sutherland today confirmed that Abu Talb had been granted immunity from prosecution in relation to the Lockerbie disaster. He said that this immunity did not mean that Talb did not require to answer questions put to him in court or that he could not be prosecuted from contempt of court if he continued to refuse to answer questions. [RB: Abu Talb must have been granted special immunity by the Lord Advocate. He was not called by the Crown as an accomplice of Megrahi and Fhimah, and so did not benefit from the general immunity accorded to prosecution witnesses called as socii criminis.]

Yesterday Richard Keen's cross-examination of Talb had to be suspended when he refused to answer questions. The Judges had to consider whether they could compel Talb to answer questions. They concluded yes.  Alistair Campbell told the court that the Judges had no effective sanction against Talb as he required to be returned to Sweden on the 18 November.

The cross examination by Keen continued with Talb eventually confirming that he was 'not innocent' in respect of the 1985 bombing in Copenhagen for which he is currently serving a life sentence. Talb continued to maintain his innocence in respect of the Lockerbie disaster. He denied sending his brother in Spring 1985 from Sweden to Syria, to learn to make bombs and said that he did not remember his brother returning in June 1985 with $5,000 and instructions that Talb was to bomb US and Jewish targets. He denied that his brother had smuggled 4 detonators in the handle of his case.

Talb had told the court that he had ceased association with the Popular Palestinian Struggle Front (PPSF) when he moved to Sweden in 1983. Talb said that no one had instructed him to carry out the Copenhagen bombing but Keen suggested he was merely unwilling to tell the Court who was implicated or responsible for the terrorist acts he was involved in. Talb answered "yes, because I did not know the person."

Talb denied returning to Malta in November 1988 and sending a radio cassette to a Post Office Box in Malta. The witness, who is named in the special defence of incrimination lodged by the two accused, will now be returned to the Swedish jail where he is serving a life sentence for murder.

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