Monday, 16 March 2020

Ghosts of Lockerbie stirred with prospect of posthumous appeal

[This is the headline over a report published this evening on the Al Jazeera website. It reads in part:]

On March 11, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) stirred the ghosts of a painful past when it announced that the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the bombing might have constituted a miscarriage of justice. (...)

Several relatives of victims have also celebrated the legal development.

Jim Swire collaborated with the al-Megrahi family on the SCCRC application. He lost his 23-year-old daughter Flora on the New York-bound flight that exploded over Scotland just 38 minutes after its takeoff from London.

Swire has long believed that al-Megrahi was innocent of the bombing - and is already looking ahead to the next phase of the judicial process which will see the case make its way to Scotland's High Court of Justiciary.

"I'm delighted that the case has been referred back to the Appeal Court - but I'm already concerned about how the case in the Appeal Court will be conducted," Swire, now in his 80s, tells Al Jazeera.

The Glasgow-based legal team highlighted six grounds why al-Megrahi's conviction constituted a grave miscarriage of justice - but the SCCRC upheld just two: "unreasonable verdict" and "non-disclosure" of evidence. (...)

John Mosey, whose 19-year-old daughter Helga was killed in the bombing, also threw his support behind the application.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from his home in England, Mosey, a reverend, said the commission's decision, which prompted him to exclaim "Hallelujah", was the "end of a first step of a long battle".

Like Swire, he remains concerned that the grounds for appeal, as selected by the SCCRC, "are limited".

But the commission's decision will likely reopen painful wounds, especially in the United States where many victims' families and involved law enforcement officials continue to view al-Megrahi as guilty.

However, Richard Marquise, who led the FBI's US Lockerbie taskforce, told Al Jazeera that the "the circumstantial evidence" that put al-Megrahi behind bars in a Scottish jail "was overwhelming".

"I have seen the evidence; know, personally, some of the witnesses and; have read the entire transcript," said the retired special agent of the SCCRC's claim that "no reasonable trial court, relying on the evidence led at trial, could have held the case against Mr Megrahi was proved beyond reasonable doubt".

"Those who passed judgment from an ivory tower were never involved in the investigation, nor did they attend one day of trial."

[RB: Dr Jim Swire and the Rev'd John Mosey attended every day of the trial at Camp Zeist. I did not (and I suspect I may be one of the inhabitants of an "ivory tower" that Richard Marquise is intending to refer to) but, like Mr Marquise I read every day's transcript as it appeared. From the day after the verdict was announced I have expressed the view that no reasonable court could have convicted Megrahi on the evidence led at the trial. That is the unshakeable view that I continue to hold nineteen years later. And the independent and expert SCCRC, after two separate investigations conducted thirteen years apart by two quite separate and different teams, has twice now reached the same conclusion as me. Mr Marquise's protestations are starting to look rather desperate.]

No comments:

Post a comment