Friday 9 December 2011

Scottish police will be invited to Tripoli to question Megrahi

[This is the headline over a report in today's edition of The Scotsman, following on from yesterday's exclusive on The Guardian website. It reads in part:]

Libya will invite Scottish police officers to Tripoli to interview the former Libyan agent convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, according to Britain’s foreign minister Alastair Burt.

The move, which could see Dumfries and Galloway police travel to Libya shortly to speak with Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi, was welcomed by Scotland’s most senior law officer the Lord Advocate Frank Mullholland QC. (...)

Yesterday Megrahi’s brother Nasser said the former Libyan agent, who is suffering from prostate cancer, was too sick to be interviewed by British investigators.

So far Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council, formed in March to lead the revolution that toppled Muammar al-Gaddafi, has dragged its feet on giving Scottish officers access.

But the new cabinet is keen to build trust with the West as it seeks to unfreeze more than £100 billion in assets held by international banks.

Frank Duggan, the Washington-based lawyer representing US victims of the bomb, said: “I am pleased to hear it. The US families want to make sure that this case is still alive. I suppose it is impressive that after 23 years it is still alive.”

Mr Mulholland said: “If reports are correct I am pleased that the Transitional Government of Libya has agreed to allow officers from Dumfries and Galloway police to travel to Libya for inquiries.

“This is a live inquiry and Scottish police and prosecutors will continue to pursue the evidence to bring the others involved to justice.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our police and prosecution authorities stand ready to investigate and follow any new lines of inquiry which may be emerging in Libya.”

[A report in today's edition of The Guardian contains the following:]

Libyan suspect Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, cleared of bombing in 2000, could face fresh trial – but victims' families are sceptical

The new Libyan government's undertaking will also hearten Frank Mulholland, the lord advocate and chief prosecutor for Scotland, who announced several months ago he was reopening prosecution files on Lockerbie.

New laws on double jeopardy in Scotland, which will allow previously cleared suspects to be tried again, came into force in late November. That would allow prosecutors to attempt a fresh trial of Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, who stood trial with Megrahi in 2000 in the Lockerbie case but was cleared by the court.

In August, Fhimah denied any links to the atrocity and insisted he too was a victim of Gaddafi, but some US relatives have pressed for both men to be handed over to the US for a fresh trial – moves the Libyans have brushed away.

Mulholland said yesterday: "The trial court held that the bombing of Pan Am 103 and the murder of 270 people was an act of state-sponsored terrorism and that Megrahi did not act alone. This is a live inquiry and Scottish police and prosecutors will continue to pursue the evidence to bring the others involved to justice."

Megrahi's family insisted he was too ill to meet British officials. Nasser al Megrahi, his brother, said he was being cared for by relatives. "He is really ill," he said. "He is in his room, I have not seen him today. He's too tired to see anyone, even us, his family."

He also questioned why Scottish police and prosecutors would want to reopen the case or interview his brother, since the UK authorities had previously agreed to release Megrahi, who is terminally ill with advanced prostate cancer, on compassionate grounds. "Why would they want to reopen the case? That doesn't make sense, it was not the Gaddafi government that made the judgment, it was the Scottish [government]." (...)

Jean Berkley, convenor of the UK Families of Flight 103, said she was pleased that there was renewed interest in the case, but she was not optimistic that a police visit to Tripoli would uncover significant new information. But she said: "We would welcome any attempts to find out more of the truth because we feel that there's a lot we don't know."

Professor Robert Black, the Scottish lawyer who proposed trying Megrahi and Fhimah on neutral ground in the Netherlands, was sceptical that the initiative would lead to a fresh trial. He said if detectives tried to interview Fhimah as a suspect, they would need to apply new Scottish rules requiring his lawyer to be present.

"If they've now got permission to go and look at Libyan archives to see what they can find, fine, but I'm amazed if they think they can go and interview Megrahi: the position of the Crown Office has been we've got Megrahi, we're now looking for others," he said. "I suspect they'll be talking to people who now head the various ministries in Libya to see whether they can find any archives on Lockerbie when it was under the Gaddafi regime."

[A report in today's edition of The Times (behind the paywall) contains the following:]

It is understood that the Lockerbie inquiry team are keen to speak to Abudullah al-Senussi, a key figure in the Gaddafi regime. Al-Senussi is believed to be in custody in the town of Sabha after his capture, along with Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s son, last month. [RB: There remains grave doubt about whether al-Senussi has been captured at all.]

Al-Senussi, known as the executioner, is already wanted by the International Criminal Court. France wants him to face justice for the 1989 bombing of an airliner over Niger. A French court has already sentenced him to life in prison in absentia. The ICC issued an arrest warrant against Al-Senussi, 62, earlier this year for alleged crimes against humanity. The court has described him as “one of the most powerful and efficient organs of repression of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime”. (...)

Crown Office sources indicated yesterday that they had no plans to speak to al-Megrahi, the only man so far convicted of the outrage. Mr Mulholland added: “The trial court held that the bombing of Pan Am 103 and the murder of 270 people was an act of state-sponsored terrorism and that Megrahi did not act alone. This is a live enquiry and Scottish police and prosecutors will continue to pursue the evidence to bring the others involved to justice.”


  1. The Bloomberg coverage mentions:

    "the Lockerbie inquiry, over which doubts lingered about the conviction of Libyan Abdel Basset al-Megrahi"


    Libya ex-justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil, now chairman of 'NTC' say on 23rd February 2011 in a interview by Sweden news paper "Expressen", that he now Colonel Gaddafi ordered the "Lockerbie bombing" on 1988 and he have the evidences.
    Since 9 months he still did not describe the proofs...
    IMPORTANT: Recommendation to the police from Dumfries and Galloway--
    "the first Statement of Witness must start by Mustafa Jalil" !!!

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland. URL:

  3. Well why don't they pursue the evidence?

  4. The Dumfries and Galloway police knows perfectly well that the case does nowhere hold, so why are they going down there? To help cook up some fake evidence?