[On this date in 2013, the doyenne of psychologists of memory and identification, Professor Elizabeth F Loftus, published an article about the evidence at the Zeist trial that was treated by the court as amounting to “identification” of Abdelbaset Megrahi as the purchaser of the goods fron Tony Gauci’s shop in Malta. The published article can be read here and the submitted manuscript here. What follows is the final section:]
My analysis identified a number of areas in which Gauci changed his testimony from one point in time to another. More specifically, the statements he gave relatively early on (nine months after the crime) before Al-Megrahi was a suspect differed in many respects from what Gauci would recall later after Al-Megrahi was a suspect. While the defense attorney did, at trial, point out some of the changes, it might have been useful to compile them and show the entire collection. Since of the major reasons why someone’s testimony changes from one point in time to another is that they have been supplied with new details, it would have been important to try to discover the new details that Gauci had been exposed to. After investigators began to look for Libyans, and began to suspect Al-Megrahi, what kind of information did Gauci receive, either deliberately or inadvertently?
This information, and more, was presented to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, a Commission that reviews cases post-conviction, and did so in this case. The Commission is an independent, public body, which was established in 1999, and bears the responsibility for reviewing alleged miscarriages of justice in Scotland. The Commission has the power to refer to the High Court of Justiciary any conviction regardless of whether appeals of that conviction have been heard previously. The Commission refers cases when it believes that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred. In Al-Megrahi’s case, the Commission expressed deep reservations about the conviction and concluded that it may have been a miscarriage of justice. Much of the world knows less about this turn of events, but much more about a different turn, namely that al-Megrahi was released from prison in 2009 and sent back to Libya on Compassionate grounds because of advancing cancer. That turn sparked outrage. Al-Megrahi lived with his cancer for a few years, and, as noted earlier, died in 2012. One can’t help but wonder whether the outrage over his release might be tempered if those angry individuals were to seriously examine the suspicious eyewitness testimony that led to Al-Megrahi’s conviction in the first place My examination has led me to wonder: Is the Lockerbie bomber still out here?