Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Lockerbie............A cover up???
It is reported in the Scotsman today that the Lockerbie bomber has been sending his possessions home for the past six weeks, fuelling accusations that the decision to release him is a "done deal".
The revelation has increased pressure on justice secretary Kenny MacAskill, with opposition politicians criticising his "inept" handling of the case. With a decision now widely expected tomorrow from Mr MacAskill, he has been urged to give answers to the Scottish Parliament "quickly".
There is a huge amount in the MSM and the blogosphere about Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber who is serving his sentance right here in Scotland.
A quick trip about the web details the case the case files, or what we think we have and the conspiracy theorists as well.
Politicians, relatives and experts accused the Scottish government of striking a deal with the convicted terrorist: that in return for his repatriation he would abandon an appeal that might have exposed a grave miscarriage of justice. “It’s pretty likely there was a deal,” said Oliver Miles, a former British Ambassador to Libya, who told The Times that the British and Scottish governments had been very anxious to avoid the appeal.
Christine Grahame, a member of the Scottish Parliament, said: “There are a number of vested interests who have been deeply opposed to this appeal because they know it would go a considerable way towards exposing the truth behind Lockerbie.”
Robert Black, the Edinburgh law professor who was one of the architects of al-Megrahi’s trial before a special Scottish court in the Netherlands, said: “There would have been strong pressure from civil servants in the justice department and the Crown Office to bring this appeal to an end . . . I’m convinced they have never wanted it to go the full distance. Legitimate concerns about the events leading up to his conviction will not be heard.”
Al-Megrahi is suffering advanced prostate cancer and his anticipated release by Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Minister, on compassionate grounds caused outrage, particularly among American relatives of the 270 Lockerbie victims.
Indeed Hilary Clinton has even been on the phone direct to Kenny Macaskill stating the apparent position of the "American People".......or does she mean the CIA.
The Libyan’s decision to drop his appeal gives Mr MacAskill the slightly less controversial option of transferring him to a Libyan jail under a prisoner transfer agreement that Britain and Libya finalised in April. Such transfers cannot take place until all legal proceedings have ended.
Either way the Obama Administration will be angered, and the victims’ relatives will be deprived of an appeal that they saw as their last chance, short of the independent public inquiry that they have long demanded, of finding out who really killed their sons, daughter, spouses and parents when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie in December 1988.
They and other experts have long doubted the evidence used to convict al-Megrahi and asked how a single man could have carried out such a deadly attack. They have questioned whether Syria or Iran was really responsible. Some even suspect that the CIA tampered with the evidence.
Al-Megrahi lost his original appeal in 2002 but when the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission awarded him another in 2007 it said that it had identified six grounds where it believed that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.
Al-Megrahi’s lawyers said he had dropped his appeal because his health had deteriorated sharply, though Scottish law would permit the appeal to continue even after his death.
Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, strenuously denied that any pressure had been put on him. “We have no interest in pressurising people to drop appeals. Why on earth should we? That’s not our position — never has been,” he said.
But the Scottish government faced a wave of scepticism. Mr Miles called al-Megrahi’s original trial “deeply flawed” and said that both Scottish and British governments wanted no appeal because it would be very embarrassing.
Ms Grahame, a backbench member of Mr Salmond’s Scottish Nationalist Party, had visited al-Megrahi in prison and said he was desperate to clear his name. She claimed to have seen a leaked e-mail from the Scottish justice department showing that senior officials were pressing him to drop his appeal.
Tam Dalyell, the former Labour MP who has long proclaimed al-Megrahi’s innocence, said: “If he abandons his appeal, it means that Lockerbie will be one of those mysteries like the assassination of President Kennedy that will remain unsolved for a long time — possibly forever.”
He added: “It would come as a mighty relief to officials at the Crown Office in Edinburgh, to certain officials in the stratosphere of Whitehall, and above all to officials in Washington.”
If the Edinburgh High Court approves al-Megrahi’s application to drop his appeal on Tuesday he is likely to fly home within another 24 hours — well before Ramadan starts on Friday.
Evidence that would have been tested
The witness Testimony given by Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper, who identified the Libyan as the man who bought clothing that was packed in the same suitcase as the bomb, was crucial to securing al-Megrahi’s conviction. Al-Megrahi’s defence team claimed Mr Gauci was not a credible witness. They maintained he was coached by police before giving his damning evidence, and believe that he was paid a $2 million (£1.2 million) reward by the US Government.
The forensic evidence Al-Megrahi’s defence team were also due to challenge evidence surrounding pieces of the timer that was said to have triggered the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103. Tests suggested a circuit board placed as close to the Semtex as the Malta device must have been could not have survived intact as it apparently did.
The missing suspect Abu Talb, an Egyptian-born terrorist serving life in Sweden, was arrested in connection with the bombing but never charged. He came under suspicion after Swedish investigators established that he had travelled to Malta in October 1988. In Talb's apartment in Uppsala, the police also found a 1988 calendar with the date “December 21” circled. Talb denied he was involved in the bombing and said his trip to Malta was for business.
The bomb-maker Edwin Bollier, a Swiss-based businessman, made the timing device that is said to have set off the bomb. He gave evidence that he had rented office space to al-Megrahi. During his testimony, it was revealed that the prosecution had been considering charging him with the same conspiracy to murder charge as the Libyans.
Scotland is a hugely compassionate country. The cancer this man suffers certainly without the political intervention and international furfore would have had the man back in Lybia many months ago.
However reading into this story some other forces are at work. Some dark ones as late last night some reports that even Mandleson has had his somewhat slimy hand involved as well.
The only person who can close this is al-Megrahi himself. his dropping of his appeal, his return to Lybia and his death for his illness will certainly now ensure that certain agencies breathe a sigh of relief whilst the families of the 270 remain in turmoil.