Monday 24 August 2009

Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi to 'show his innocence' in autobiography

[This is the headline over a report in today's edition of The Times. It reads in part:]

Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, is writing his autobiography to “proclaim his innocence” by disclosing new information behind Britain’s deadliest terrorist attack, The Times has learnt.

Abdurrhman Swessi, Colonel Gaddafi’s official envoy to Scotland, disclosed yesterday that al-Megrahi was working on a book that would detail his life behind bars and reveal all he knows about the bombing in 1988 of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people.

The freed bomber’s lawyers had collected evidence for an appeal against his conviction that he dropped last week as a necessary condition to qualify for release on compassionate grounds. The book is expected to be used as al-Megrahi’s platform to argue that he was framed for the crime.

“He’ll be writing a book to proclaim his innocence,” Mr Swessi said from Tripoli during an interview conducted in Arabic. This comes after al-Megrahi said in an interview with The Times last week that he would produce new evidence to the “British and Scottish communities ... and ask them to be the jury”.

Mr Swessi, who was made Libya’s Consul-General in Glasgow to represent the convicted bomber’s interests, emphasised that al-Megrahi would write the book without assistance or intrusion from the Libyan Government.

The only English word used by the envoy during the ten-minute telephone interview was “scapegoat”, a reference to al-Megrahi, whose supporters claim that he was singled out by the West as part of an elaborate international conspiracy. (...)

Asked if he would help al-Megrahi to write the book, Mr Swessi — the closest official to the case, whose role was set up with the intention of lobbying the Scottish government for the bomber’s release — said: “He’s been making notes and will not require any assistance.” (...)

Robert Mueller, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who led the US legal investigation into the Lockerbie massacre, accused the Scottish government of emboldening terrorists by freeing al-Megrahi, the only person to be convicted of the bombing.

Mr Swessi said: “It’s all political talk and it’s meaningless. He deserved to be released because he is innocent, of course. He did not commit the crime. His innocence is well known and the Scottish government knows that very well.”

Mr Swessi insisted that Downing Street had nothing to do with the release. “It was the Scottish who made and delivered on their decision and that’s that,” he said.

“The issue was in the hands of the Scottish government and had nothing to do with anyone else.”

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