Sunday, 30 July 2017

Not the finest hour

What follows is an item originally posted on this blog on this date in 2010. The comments following the post are also well worth reading.

An independent judicial review into the Lockerbie bombing is now essential

[This is the heading over a letter in today's edition of The Herald from Iain A D Mann. It reads as follows:]

It is becoming clearer by the day that an independent judicial inquiry is now essential into all the events surrounding the PanAm 103 disaster and the subsequent conviction of one person, the Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, for the crime ...

The pathetic attempt by some US Senators to investigate this deeply complex matter in one afternoon session, by grilling a few foreign politicians on the basis of misguided assumptions and misunderstood facts, underlines how important it now is to have such an inquiry in the United Kingdom (or Scotland) under proper judicial conditions.

If a public inquiry continues to be refused by those in authority, the alternative is to find some way to re-open Megrahi’s second appeal in the Scottish courts. I cannot believe that the Scottish Government and/or the Scottish Justice Department could not devise some way of achieving this if they really wanted to. It pains me to say so, but I believe that the original trial in Camp Zeist, before three High Court judges with no jury, was not the finest hour of our much-vaunted legal system. Its reputation would be repaired, and perhaps enhanced, if it were now seen to provide an opportunity for all the relevant and previously unheard evidence to be reconsidered and tested in court.

Whether that scrutiny is by a public inquiry or a court appeal process, it is imperative that this time both the UK and US governments make available all the relevant documents that they have so far disgracefully refused to disclose, on the spurious grounds of either “national security” or “not in the public interest”. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, after an exhaustive three-year investigation, reported no fewer than six possible reasons for a possible miscarriage of justice, and these must be properly examined and tested judicially.

I am sure there are many like me who want to prove to the world that our country – Britain and Scotland – is still a true democracy, where justice is not denied or distorted by those in authority for whatever misguided reason. The families of all the 270 victims of the PanAm atrocity deserve to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

[A letter from Tam Dalyell in today's edition of The Scotsman reads:]

... Alex Salmond and his justice secretary should travel to Washington to blurt out the unpalatable truth; namely that their decision to release Mr Megrahi had nothing whatsoever to do with BP, compassion or legal precedent.

It had everything to do with avoiding an appeal which would have revealed the delaying and disgraceful behaviour of the Crown Office over 21 years, the "inexplicable" (the UN observer's word) decision by the judges at Zeist and the shortcomings in Mr Megrahi's original defence, not to mention the involvement of the American government in scapegoating Libya, for the crime that was carried out by Jibril, Abu Talb and the PFLP-GC.

The Americans should now be told that the motive for Mr Megrahi's release was the avoidance of the humiliation of Scottish justice in the eyes of the world.

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