[On this date in 1998 there were media reports about a change in the Libyan legal team representing the Lockerbie accused, Megrahi and Fhima. What follows is taken from Asharq al-Awsat:]
Dr Ibrahim al-Ghuwayl [Legwell] lawyer of 'Abd-al-Basit al-Miqrahi and al-Amin Khalifah Fahimah, the two Libyans accused in connection with the Lockerbie case, has refused to join a new team formed by the Libyan Government to defend the two Libyans suspected of blowing up a PanAm plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. In a statement to Al-Sharq al-Awsat yesterday Al-Ghuwayl attributed his refusal to disagreements over "strategy."
Dr al-Ghuwayl added that the new team is headed by Kamil Maqhur, a former foreign minister, and includes lawyers from a number of law practices in Libya.
Asked about the reasons for this official Libyan action, al-Ghuwayl said: "I do not know the reasons; you should ask those who made the decision." Dr al-Ghuwayl stressed that it was al-Miqrahi and Fahimah who chose him as a lawyer to defend them, "and I am still safeguarding their interests and will continue to do so until they decide otherwise." Al-Ghuwayl had objected to the US-British initiative for his clients to stand trial in the Netherlands.
[RB: A few days later a letter from me was published in The Scotsman in response to that newspaper’s report on the matter. The letter reads as follows:]
Your report ("Lockerbie suspects' lawyers sacked", 24 September) claims the new Libyan defence team had been appointed by the Libyan Government (or by Colonel Gaddafi). What evidence is there for this?
I met five members of the team in Tripoli last Monday. The chairman, Kamel Hassan Maghur, said he and his colleagues (who include the present President of the Tripoli Bar Association and the most senior past-President) had been appointed by the two suspects themselves; that their sole concern was with representing the interests of their clients; that those interests did not necessarily coincide with the wishes or interests of the Libyan Government; and that if the Government sought to interfere in their work or to influence in any way the advice which the lawyers might render to their clients, they would not hesitate to publicise this fact in the international media.
Mr Maghur (who as well as being a former Foreign Minister, is also a retired Libyan Supreme Court judge) said nothing to indicate that his team wished to dispense with the services of Alistair Duff, the Edinburgh solicitor who for many years has represented the two suspects in Scotland: indeed, quite the reverse.
If, as you state, Dr Ibrahim Legwell is claiming (a) still to represent the suspects and (b) that the new team has been foisted on them without their consent, then this conflict should be speedily resolved by direct consultation with the accused themselves. I was deeply impressed by the professionalism, commitment and independence of the Libyan lawyers. If they do indeed now represent the suspects, I am convinced that their interests are in capable hands.