- Hans Köchler and Jason Subler (eds), The Lockerbie Trial. Documents Related to the IPO Observer Mission
Thursday 29 June 2017
Monday 4 July 2016
Monday 29 June 2015
Sunday 15 June 2008
'The UN’s observer in the trial that convicted a Libyan of the atrocity criticises the process of his appeal
The UN observer at the Lockerbie trial, Hans Köchler, has said that the Libyan convicted of the bombing will not get a fair hearing in Scotland.
Köchler, who advises the European Commission on democracy and human rights, has condemned government interference in the appeal of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi and said the hearing should be held in a neutral country.
His intervention follows an attempt by the British government to block the release of secret papers that could help clear the former Libyan intelligence agent convicted of the 1988 bombing, which claimed 270 lives.
Köchler said Megrahi’s case was handled “more like an intelligence operation than a genuine undertaking of criminal justice” and criticised MSPs for failing to hold inquiries into the downing of Pan Am 103 and its judicial aftermath. “It is almost trivial to say that a fair trial requires the availability of evidence to the prosecution and defence. Only in a totalitarian system would the executive power interfere in court proceedings and order the withholding of evidence.”
The Advocate General, on behalf of British ministers, had objected to disclosure of the documents to Megrahi’s legal team, lodging a public interest immunity plea.
Last month senior judges ordered that the papers should be released to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, where a panel of three judges will decide in camera whether they should be disclosed.
The documents, which are believed to hold information about the electronic timer that detonated the bomb, were not disclosed to the defence during al-Megrahi’s trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. Megrahi lost an appeal in 2002, but the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission concluded that he might have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice and referred his case back to the court last year. One of the grounds for referral is believed to be the prosecution’s failure to disclose the secret document to Megrahi’s lawyers.
Köchler said the decision to hear the appeal in Scotland breached a concordat between the UK, the US and the Netherlands. “The fact that the new appeal proceedings take place in Scotland is not in conformity with the original intergovernmental agreement on the Lockerbie trial.” The proceedings totally lacked “transparency”, he said.
Last week, Robert Black, the Edinburgh law professor who helped to arrange Megrahi’s original trial in the Netherlands said the intergovernmental agreement no longer applied. It “existed for the original trial and the appeal. This is now the second appeal.” The agreement was spent, he said.
“Scotland made a mess of the trial and the appeal, and to an outside observer, that might lend justification to Köchler’s view. But I believe that this time it will be done properly and Megrahi will be released.”
Last year, Köchler said Scotland had the reputation of a “banana republic” because of its handling of the case.'
Scotland on Sunday runs a story along the same lines. It contains the following quote from doughty Lockerbie campaigner, Tam Dalyell:
"Hans Köchler is a good man and he is absolutely right with his criticisms. The behaviour of the Crown in this case has been disgusting and a disgrace to Scotland. I personally feel very responsible because I was one of those, along with others, who helped persuade the Libyans to hand over one of their nationals for trial."
Scotland on Sunday states that Professor Köchler's views were expressed in a letter written to The Firm. The letter was in fact written to Robbie the Pict who, with Köchler's permission, passed it to the magazine.
Saturday 21 December 2013
CIA held Syrian militants responsible for Lockerbie bombing in The Telegraph;
Die Zweifel von Lockerbie in Die Welt;
‘Hans Köchler goes a step further in his assessment of the incident. The Austrian philosopher was sent to The Hague in 2000 by the UN Secretary-General to observe the Lockerbie trial. He was present when Scottish judges acquitted a Libyan intelligence officer and sentenced the other accused suspect, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, to life imprisonment." From what I know and have seen," says Köchler, "this is a miscarriage of justice." (...)
‘There is only speculation about the real masterminds behind the Lockerbie bombing. Iran is always named, as well as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was involved in many attacks at the time. But the evidence is contradictory, and 25 years after Lockerbie, there is apparently no one who wants to know the truth. (...)
‘Former observer Hans Köchler is one of those demanding the case be reopened. "It's necessary in order to restore confidence in government and the judiciary," says Köchler, "since many in Scotland are convinced that the case didn't follow the rule of law."’
Finally, here is a link to a bonkers piece by Alan Cochrane in The Telegraph in which he argues that the Scottish Government should apologise for the compassionate release of Megrahi because the medical advice that they, quite properly, followed turned out to be inaccurate; and a link to a typically ill-informed and blinkered article in The Times by that well-known Dr Pangloss of the Lockerbie case, Magnus Linklater.
Friday 13 March 2015
Friday 17 April 2015
Thursday 3 July 2008
Is the insistence on the right to a fair trial absurd and illogical?
Scottish judiciary has to abide by the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights
Statement by Dr. Hans Köchler
Vienna, 3 July 2008
According to reports in the Scottish media, Crown counsel Ronnie Clancy QC has branded as "absurd" and "illogical" demands that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi's appeal before the High Court of Justiciary shall not be restricted to the grounds of appeal given by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC).
On 28 June 2007 the SCCRC had announced its decision to refer Mr al Megrahi's case back to the High Court of Justiciary for a new appeal. The Commission had given six reasons for its decision some of which it kept secret upon announcement. Obviously (and not only in view of its "secretive" nature), the list of grounds given by the SCCRC cannot be considered as an exhaustive enumeration of all possible grounds of appeal. The grounds given by the SCCRC are simply those that led that body to suspect a miscarriage of justice. The reasons revealed by the SCCRC to the public are almost identical to the points I had raised in my trial and appeal reports (in 2001 and 2002 respectively) which I had submitted to the United Nations.
Contrary to the Crown's position, it is neither absurd nor illogical if an appellant expects an appeal court to hear additional grounds of appeal - if new information has indeed become available. Rather, it would be absurd and illogical to limit the appeal to a fixed number of grounds, i.e. - as regards the present case - to those grounds given in last year's decision of the SCCRC (whereby the evidence related to some of the grounds is still being kept secret).
In order to be fair, an appeal process must be comprehensive. Justice requires truth. Certainty "beyond a reasonable doubt" can not be established if the Defence is prevented from giving the grounds of appeal on the basis of the evidence that is available to it. A court's judgment must be based on arguments. To determine that certain issues and facts are excluded from being considered (because the presentation of some grounds of appeal is rejected by one party) invalidates the entire argumentative process.
A "fair trial" according to Art 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ("European Convention on Human Rights") requires that no one interferes into the competence of the Defence and that, accordingly, additional evidence that has become available is also heard. The limitation of the grounds of appeal is not only contrary to the rationale of a judicial review as such and, thus, intrinsically unfair, but it is also illogical if the goal of an appeal process is indeed a comprehensive review of the original verdict. There can be no rational argumentation of an appeal if the appellant is told what grounds he is allowed to raise and what not.
Rather, in terms of the labels used by the Crown counsel, it could be argued that the original verdict of the High Court of Justiciary was "absurd" and "illogical" since it declared one of the two Libyan suspects "guilty" and the other one "not guilty" - while the entire logic of the indictment was based on the theory of the two suspects having conspired together to ingest an explosive device at Luqa airport (Malta) to be transported in a piece of unaccompanied luggage to Frankfurt airport and from there on to Heathrow.
The effort at limiting the scope of the appeal by restricting the grounds that can be heard is especially serious in view of the British Government's insistence on withholding evidence from the Defence by means of a Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate. Should the efforts of the Crown and the British Government succeed, the appellant would again be denied his right to a fair trial and will thus be entitled to seek redress from the European Court of Human Rights.
Dr Hans Köchler
Saturday 23 February 2008
You will, I think, be interested to see my exchange of emails with Dr Hans Koechler, the United Nations Observer at the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial:
Fri, 22 Feb 2008 16:27:10 +0000 (GMT)
Dear Dr Koechler,
The ePetitions team gave the following explanation for the rejection: Criminal investigations are instigated by the police, not by the Prime Minister. You should take your request to the police authorities.
I understand that it was Prime Minister Thatcher who decided early in 1989 that the original Lockerbie investigation should be controlled by the small Dumfries and Galloway force - in liaison with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and involving British and US intelligence - rather than by a specialist national police unit based in London. I had hoped that Prime Minister Brown would reverse that decision for a new investigation, but it could be that the powers devolved in 1998 from the House of Commons to the Parliament in
References supporting the text of the rejected petition can be found at the website of Professor Robert Black (http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.com/2008/01/patrick-haseldine-on-lockerbie.html).
Fri, 22 Feb 2008 17:39:33 -0500
23 February 2008
Dear Mr. Haseldine!
Thank you for the information on the reply from the Prime Minister's office.
In view of the many revelations during the last two years in the English and Scottish media, the Scottish authorities should undertake an investigation into the handling of the Lockerbie case - and possible criminal misconduct - by the Scottish police and judiciary. The Scots have to demonstrate that they are capable to handle judicial matters properly.
Devolution in matters of criminal justice is meaningless if they are not able to assert their authority vis-a-vis the
With best regards