Sunday, 6 November 2016

Megrahi and Libya “were made a scapegoat”

[On this date in 2008 The Times printed a “clarification”. What follows is part of the article by Tam Dalyell to which it related, followed by the clarification itself:]

My deep conviction, as a “professor of Lockerbie studies” over a 20-year period is that neither al-Megrahi nor Libya had any role in the destruction of Pan Am 103.

I believe they were made a scapegoat in 1990-91 by an American government that had decided to go to war with Iraq and did not want complications with Syria and Iran, which had harboured the real perpetrators of the terrible deed. Libya and its “operatives”, Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah (al-Megrahi's co-accused) and al-Megrahi, only came into the frame at a very late date. In my informed opinion, al-Megrahi has been the victim of one of the most spectacular (and expensive) miscarriages of justice in history. (...)

Visiting him in prison, I was struck by his self-possession - a self-possession that had struck many people at his trial, possibly because it never occurred to him that he would be found guilty. It explains my passionate involvement over 20 years, as well as that of Robert Black, professor emeritus of Scots law at the University of Edinburgh. It was on our say-so that Libya ever surrendered its citizens to Scottish justice. Whatever happens to al-Megrahi, faced with advanced terminal cancer, the case will continue because on trial is the international reputation of Scottish justice and particularly of the Crown Office...

Almost the last thing that al-Megrahi said to me was: “Yes, of course I want to go back to Tripoli. I have my wife and my five children are growing up, but I want to go back an innocent man.”

Some of us are determined to find the truth and justice that we believe will find him innocent.

The clarification
In Tam Dalyell's article in last Saturday's Times “A civilised, caring man - not a mass murderer”, Mr Dalyell claimed that the prosecution in the Lockerbie case had lied to Lord Coulsfield, the High Court judge, when it told the trial court at Camp Zeist that it had full confidence in the evidence of the Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci. Mr Dalyell's claim was based on reported comments made by a previous Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, that Mr Gauci was an unreliable witness who was “not the full shilling”. The present Lord Advocate has asked us to point out that Lord Fraser made it clear in 2005 that he did not have any reservations about any aspect of the prosecution, and had no aspersions to cast on Tony Gauci's evidence and, therefore, that there is no substance to the serious allegation in the article that the Crown had lied to the court about its confidence in the evidence of Tony Gauci.

[RB: It should be noted that there was, and could be, no denial that Lord Fraser of Carmyllie used the words attributed to him by Tam Dalyell.]

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