Wednesday 29 July 2015

Lockerbie and the Tripoli verdicts

[What follows is excerpted from a report published in today’s edition of The Herald:]

The Tripoli court also sentenced to death seven others, including former Libyan spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi.

The Crown Office had previously commented on Senussi's potential value to the new inquiry when he was extradited from Mauritania, on the west coast of Africa, to Libya in September 2012.

Mr Mulholland and the FBI have previously stated their continuing belief Libya was behind the massacre and al-Megrahi carried out the operation.

But Professor Robert Black QC, one of the architects of the Camp Zeist trial which convicted al-Megrahi, has said that while the execution of Senussi would not have major implications for the Lockerbie case, Omar-Dorda's death may.

He said: "If Lockerbie was a Libyan operation, which I've yet to be convinced it was, I doubt if Senussi was in the loop. He was mainly concerned with internal security, ie keeping Gaddafi in power, rather than foreign operations.

"But the events in Tripoli do impact on Lockerbie in other ways. One of those sentenced to death is Abuzed Omar-Dorda, who was instrumental in brokering the arrangement that led the UK and USA eventually to agree to a non-jury trial in the Netherlands. A genuinely good guy."

Professor Black said another two Libyans with Lockerbie connections had been acquitted: Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, former Foreign Minister who chaired the Libyan government committee that dealt with securing a Lockerbie trial and, later, with the ramifications of the guilty verdict against Megrahi, and Mohammed Zwai who was, for most of the relevant period during which the [fallout from the] Lockerbie trial was being considered, Libyan ambassador in London.

Dr Jim Swire, the public face of the British families of the Lockerbie victims and sceptic over the role of al-Megrahi and Libya, said he believed the executions were "irrelevant" to resolve any outstanding questions over the tragedy.

But he also described the Tripoli decisions as a "put down for the concept of international justice".

He added: "I had hoped vainly these guys would be handed over to international criminal courts, given a fair trial and no death sentence imposed. They have been tried in a court which wouldn't be recognised outside Libya.

"I'm particularly sad about Dorda, who I knew well and met many times."

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