Thursday, 21 March 2019

Crown investigation separate from SCCRC's

[Press reports today confirm, as I hinted yesterday, that the investigation currently being conducted by Scottish police and prosecutors into possible involvement by the East German Stasi in the Lockerbie bombing is quite separate from the investigation by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission into whether Abdelbaset Megrahi's conviction might have amounted to a miscarriage of justice. The SCCRC on 13 March 2019 obtained a European Investigation Order addressed to the Federal German authorities, but this appears to be independent of the Crown investigations disclosed yesterday and today, which stemmed from assistance requests submitted to the German authorities months earlier. What follows is excerpted from today's edition of The Guardian:]

According to a report in the German tabloid Bild, Scotland’s solicitor general, Alison Di Rollo QC, is said to have about 20 former Stasi officers in her sights.

The Crown Office, the Scottish prosecution service, confirmed to the tabloid that an investigation involving the Stasi was ongoing, but said it did not want to detail particular aspects that might hinder the work of what it said was “an ongoing investigation”.

But several state prosecutors across eastern Germany, including in Berlin, Cottbus, Frankfurt an der Oder, Zwickau, Potsdam and Neuruppin confirmed to the newspaper that Di Rollo had approached them asking for “legal assistance”.

The focus is said to be on the states of Brandenburg and Berlin, where most of the former agents, now in their late 70s and 80s, live. Bild said as many as 15 former Stasi agents were being approached for “concrete questioning”.

In Scotland a team of nine prosecutors is involved in investigating whether East German agents were actively involved with the regime of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Crown Office lawyers have also been searching for new evidence in Libya.

Those prosecutors are acting independently of a separate investigation by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which has been running its second inquiry into whether Megrahi’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice. (...)

Megrahi’s family has since reinvigorated their quest for the conviction to be overturned, instructing lawyers in Scotland to submit a fresh appeal with the SCCRC.

There has long been suspicion of collaboration between the Stasi and Gaddafi’s secret service, but many critics of Megrahi’s prosecution believe the Lockerbie bombing was carried out by Palestinian terrorists on behalf of Iran, in retaliation for the US downing of an Iranian passenger jet in 1988.

Some relatives of the dead, including the Lockerbie campaigner Dr Jim Swire, believe the bomb was planted at Heathrow airport and not sent via feeder flights from Malta, as the US and UK claim.

A cell belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (General Command) had been operating in West Germany in the months before the Pan Am bombing.

[RB: Further reports appear today in The Scotsman, The Times and The Telegraph.]

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