Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Approaching the end game

[What follows is the text of a report dated 14 February 1999 on the ITN Source website:]

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has said that efforts to bring to trial two Libyan suspects in the 1988 airliner bombing over the Scottish town of Lockerbie "could be approaching the end game".

Britain, the United States and Libya are nearer than ever to an accord on trying two Libyan suspects in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 but looseremain, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said on Sunday (February 14).

"What we now need is to tie down the general agreement to the principle of a trial in the Netherlands, with a very clear specific undertaking from (Libyan leader) Colonel (Muammar) Gaddafi," Cook told reporters.

"What we want to see is justice carried out in a fair and open trial.We now look as if we are closer to that than we have ever been so far," he said during a break in diplomatic efforts to broker a peace in the Serbian province of Kosovo.

South Africa said on Saturday that envoys from Pretoria and Saudi Arabia, who had been in talks this week with Gaddafi, had reached agreement over trying the men accused of the bombing of the Pan American jetliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

A total of 270 people, mostly Americans, were killed when the plane blew up and crashed.

Cook, speaking to reporters from the steps of the chateau in Rambouillet outside Paris where the Kosovo talks are taking place, said he would talk to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan about the agreement later in the day.

Libya has been under UN sanctions since 1992 over its refusal to surrender the two suspects in the bombing, Abdel Basset Ali Mohammed al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah.

"I'm not going to sigh with relief until the two men touch down in the Netherlands.But I am encouraged at the progress that has been made.After months of very hard progress, it looks as if we could be approaching the end game," Cook said.

Cook said on Saturday that Britain and the United States would not compromise on insisting that the suspects serve any sentence in a Scottish prison if they were found guilty by a court in the Netherlands.

Bert Ammerman, a New Jersey school principal whose brother, Tom, was killed in the bombing, said he and other relatives of victims won't believe Gaddafi has agreed to cooperate until they actually see the defendants arrive in the Hague, where a trial would be held.

[RB: Megrahi and Fhimah arrived at Camp Zeist on 5 April 1999.]

1 comment:

  1. We are all susceptible.

    I recall seeing Fhimah and Megrahi on (Danish) TV, in the earliest nineties.

    This simple presentation already brings them in focus: the question of their guilt becomes sort of a psychological 50%-50% issue: “either it was them, or it was not, what do you think?”

    When this happens, some percentage of people will already have convicted them in their minds.

    Probably a majority of Europeans and Americans. I certainly did. Nothing works easier than telling people something in line with what they believe already. Gaddaffi, terrorism, oh, yes.

    In the real world any child shouting "But he doesn't have anything on!" would have been disciplined. Any judge saying "Sorry, but is this what we have against the accused? By and large two extremely poor witnesses, a presence on Malta on a coded passport and 'taggs'?"

    The "conspiracy" charge.
    "You did something! Nothing written or recorded, no fingerprints, pictures. You conspired. With who, where, when we don't know, but see, we wouldn't expect to, either, you are so far away. We are justified in having no such evidence. You conspired, and if not with Fhimah, then with somebody else."

    It took me 20 years to realize that the trial was meaningless from the very beginning. A psychological construct:

    “We are entitled to conclude on whatever we have. We have to, as the crime is so huge.”

    The debate it has gotten is only justified by its political magnitude, a circular reinforcement.
    The backside of a postcard would have been enough for the verdict at the time.

    "There is not a single acceptable piece of evidence that either of the accused have done anything related to the bombing of Panam 103.
    Even the critically dependent theory of the introduction of the bomb in Malta, is weakly supported and with significant evidence against.
    Finally, we have insufficient knowledge to discard other theories where somebody somehow manages to get a bomb on Panam 103.
    It is an absurd thought, that the research done with any reasonable likelihood would have discovered such evidence."

    It is really that simple, and had it not been for the death of 270 people, no more time would have been spent on that.