Monday, 31 October 2016

Megrahi petition supported by Maltese nationals

[What follows is excerpted from an article that was published in the Maltese newspaper The Sunday Times on this date in 2010. It is particularly relevant following the recent death of Tony Gauci:]

More than 100 Maltese nationals have signed a petition calling on the Scottish government to open an independent inquiry into the only Lockerbie bombing conviction to date.

The petition, signed by nationals from 33 countries, was filed with the Scottish parliament last Tuesday and is piloted by the pressure group Justice for Megrahi. (...)

The online petition attracted 1,649 signatories, a record for any petition ever filed with parliament’s petitions committee, according to Jim Swire, a founder of Justice for Megrahi and the father of Flora, a victim of the worst terrorist act on British soil. (...)

The petition calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish government to open an independent inquiry into the 2001 Kamp van Zeist conviction for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988.

Dr Swire told The Sunday Times the ball is in the petitions committee’s court, adding that campaigners will probably be summoned by Scottish MPs to explain the contents of the petition.

“We believe our cause will find some ears but I can’t say how Scottish MPs will react,” Dr Swire said when asked whether he was hopeful the petition would move forward.

However, he pointed out that with the Scottish election in May [2011] the governing Scottish National Party may be willing “to be seen to do something”.

Campaigners, he added, were comforted by the decision of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission in 2007 that the Libyan “may have suffered a miscarriage of justice”. (...)

Investigators had concluded the suitcase containing the bomb that exploded over Scotland was loaded in an unaccompanied luggage on an Air Malta flight to Germany before making its way to London.

Malta has always denied any link with the case.

The luggage was traced back to Mr Al-Megrahi and another Libyan man who at the time were Libyan secret service agents working with Libyan Arab airlines in Malta.

The crucial evidence to convict Mr Al-Megrahi was provided by a Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci, from Sliema, who identified him as the person who bought the clothes that were found in the luggage.

However, serious doubts have been shed on the credibility of the Maltese shopkeeper.

Mr Al-Megrahi’s defence team contended that the Maltese witness was paid “in excess of $2 million”, while his brother was paid “in excess of $1 million” for cooperating. Neither has ever denied receiving payment.

Twenty-two years on from the bombing, Dr Swire remains convinced of the Libyan’s innocence, saying he was converted by the evidence he heard in the main trial.

In presenting the petition, the campaigners said the “perverse judgement not only resulted in the conviction of Mr al-Megrahi, but maligned Germany, Libya, Malta and the UK.”

It also quotes Foreign Minister Tonio Borg as saying: “We have no proof that these two Libyan suspects were involved in anything illegal in Malta regarding this case, particularly the placing of this bomb on Air Malta Flight 180.”

[RB: Justice for Megrahi’s petition remains on the current work programme of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee.]

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