Friday 11 October 2013

Top Scottish prosecutor on Lockerbie: We're not done yet

[This is the headline over a report published yesterday evening on the Syracuse website of The Post-Standard.  It reads in part:]

Lesley Thomson was a young prosecutor living in Glasgow with a 1-year-old baby when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in the air above Scotland.

"We hugged our children closer to us," she said Thursday at Syracuse University. "I wondered at that point whether I might be involved in the work that was going to be done in the case."

A quarter-century after the terrorist bombing that killed 270 people, Thomson is the top prosecutor for all of Scotland. [RB: Actually the second-top prosecutor.]

She's still working the investigation.

Thomson spoke at the law school at Syracuse University, which lost 35 students in the Dec 21, 1988, bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. Her hour-long speech was part of Remembrance Week at SU for the victims. (...)

In 2001, Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi was convicted in the bombing by a panel of three Scottish judges. Another Libyan agent, Lamen Khalifah Fhimah, was acquitted.

Thomson, Scotland's solicitor general since 2011, told the SU audience that the investigation was still active and that she hopes evidence might come from the Libyan government now that Moammar Gadhafi is gone.

"The conviction of Megrahi is by no means the end of this journey," she said.

Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison for the 270 murders, but was freed to Libya in 2009 because he had terminal prostate cancer and was expected to live only three more months. He lived almost another three years until his death in May 2012.

Thomson took a question from the audience about Megrahi's release. It came from one of the victims' relatives who knows something about prosecuting criminals.

"How that could happen?" asked Rick Hartunian, whose sister Lynne died in the bombing. He's the top federal prosecutor in the Syracuse area, as US attorney for the Northern District of New York. Lynne Hartunian was one of two SUNY Oswego students who died on Pan Am 103.

Rick Hartunian has said he decided to become a prosecutor because of the Pan Am bombing.

"Can you make any comment about how that came about and whether that was something that was surprising, something that I'm sure was as upsetting to many people on the team as it was to many people here in America?" Hartunian asked.

Thomson referred the question to Lindsey Miller, one of the eight prosecutors still working on the case. Miller was at her side for the speech.

Megrahi's release was the result of Scotland's secretary for justice deciding that the prisoner qualified for "compassionate release," Miller said. The fallout was that a second appeal that Megrahi had filed was never heard, raising questions that prosecutors will never be able to answer, she said.

"For us as a team, I think the issue is that it has left questions that we were very keen to answer in the course of the appeal," Miller said. "We can't do our talking in the media. I realize that it's frustrating. But the process was followed." [RB: Lesley Thomson and Lindsey Miller’s boss, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, seems to have no compunction about talking about the Lockerbie case in the media.] 

Two years ago, a Scottish law was passed that allowed prosecutors to try someone for the same crime he'd been acquitted of, Thomson said. But she didn't say whether there are plans to try to use it in Fhimah's case. Her spokeswoman wouldn't comment afterward.

The law, which overcomes prohibitions against double jeopardy, can only be used with a showing of newly discovered evidence, or of a confession, or that the trial was tainted somehow.

This week, an author who's written three books on the bombing released police reports showing the US Department of Justice paid at least $2 million as a reward to a key eyewitness linking Megrahi to the bomb.

The reports show that the FBI was arranging to pay Anthony Gauci, a shopkeeper in Malta, $2 million as a reward and another $1 million to his brother. The reward money was paid after the trial, according to a story in the British newspaper The Guardian.

Thomson acknowledged that Gauci provided crucial evidence in the trial. But her spokeswoman said Thomson would not comment on the reward money or the newly released documents.

A Scottish newspaper this week quoted government officials as saying no witness in the case was offered any inducement from the Scottish government.

Thomson didn't address the allegation in her speech, but she did talk about the frequent buzz of conspiracy theories. They've been around almost since day one, she said. [RB: The conspiracy theory slur again. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (amongst many others) conspiracy theorists? Really, Solicitor-General?]

"In the context of the Lockerbie case, prosecutors are being asked things like, 'Do you really think he did it?' " she said. "So for the avoidance of doubt, let me make one thing clear. This case was prosecuted before three judges at a trial. It was argued before five judges on appeal... Our position was and remains that Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi was involved in this murder and that he was acting with others to further the cause of the Libyan regime and of Gadhafi." (...)

She ended with a vow to keep pushing on.

"I'm going to leave you with my assurance that Scotland's prosecutors are absolutely determined that the passage of time will afford no protection to those who have thus far evaded justice," she said.

[This story has now been picked up by The Herald. The coverage of Syracuse University's remembrance week by ITV News Border can be viewed here.]


  1. MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2013 (google translation, german/english):

    Has Lesley Thomson, Scotland's solicitor general since 2011, fear of the true forenic result, about the MST-13 Timerfragment (PT/35) ?

    It is puzzling that Lesley Thomson, not will risked - to give an order to the new 'Lockerbie Investigation operational team', led by Detective Superintendent Michael Dalgleish, for a new forensically examine, the crucial piece of evidence against Libya, the MST 13 timer fragment (PT-35) ? The cost and time efford are very low...

    Urgent demand:
    The supposedly discovered in Lockerbie ultimate piece of evidence "PT-35", must in the presence of specialists and a Swiss police officer from ex (BUPO) and Ing Ulrich Lumpert - Edwin Bollier (MEBO Ltd.) inter alia are forensically investigated the composition of 8 or 9 layers of fiberglass.

    9 layers of fiberglass indicate it was from a MST-13 timer, wo was supplied to Libya, from MEBO Ltd.

    8 layers of fiberglass shows it was from a "prototype circuit board", which had to do nothing with Libya !

    It is high time that before 25 Anniversary of the "Lockerbie Tragedy", an important part of the truth comes to light...

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


    LIBYA Before (Libya Now) have nothing to do with the 'PanAm 103 bombing' - supported on the circumstantial evidence - the crucial, manipulated, MST-13 timer fragment (PT-35) - presented (2000/01) by Scottish Justice !!!

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

  3. Ms Thomson says " [..] the passage of time will afford no protection to those who have thus far evaded justice,".

    Indeed a fine sentiment I'm sure everyone would wholeheartedly concur with. However, fine words don't butter parsnips.

    For nearly a quarter of a century our political, police and crown officials have steadfastly asserted that the Libyan regime had harboured and instructed the culprits who had committed the bombing of PA103.

    Indeed, as reiterated above and in keeping with the current 'live' investiagtion, we should not doubt that the ‘guilty’ Mr Megrahi had acted in concert and on behalf of high-ranking Libyan officials.

    Crown officials elicited before the court that two officials of the Gaddafi regime were of particular note and were instrumental in facilitating Mr Megrahi's plot: Mr Abdullah al- Senussi, currently held in custody in Tripoli awaiting trial following the 2011 NATO bombing and regime change campaign; and Mr Moussa Koussa, former head of Libyan intelligence and now apparently residing in some luxury and hosted by a royalist client state of the US, likely either Jordan or Qatar.

    It was doggedly insisted by the Crown that these two men, along with Mr Megrahi and Col Gadaffi, were absolutely instrumental in the organizing, financing and ordering of the bombing of Pan Am 103.

    And yet, despite this insistence, Mr Koussa, after fleeing Libya and stopping briefly in the UK, met with Crown Office officials and then was simply allowed to leave without further need for questioning, arrest or charge. No need for explanations to the families of the victims nor the public who pay for such debacles, as one of the men the crown office had assured everyone was explicitly implicated in the bombing, sauntering off with the blessing of the crown office into the sunset.

    Now, I’m not sure what planet the Crown Office therefore thinks that the public inhabit. But, it is the real world and Crown Office officials would do well to join everyone else there, rather than assert and present scenarios that are nothing more than illusions of a parallel world.