The Framing of al-Megrahi

It is, of course, now all about oil. Only a simpleton could believe that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, convicted of responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, was not recently returned to his home in Libya because it suited Britain. The political furore is very obviously contrived, since both the British and American governments know perfectly well how and for what reasons he came to be prosecuted. More important than the present passing storm is whether any aspect of the investigation that led to al-Megrahi’s original conviction was also about oil, or dictated by other factors that should have no place in a prosecution process.

The devastation caused by the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, at the cost of 270 lives, deserved an investigation of utter integrity. Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights demands no less. Where there has been a death any inquiry must be independent, effective and subject to public scrutiny, to provide the basis for an attribution of responsibility and to initiate criminal proceedings where appropriate. But, in the absence of this, a number of the bereaved Lockerbie families have of necessity themselves become investigators, asking probing questions for two decades without receiving answers; they have learned sufficient forensic science to make sense of what was being presented at al-Megrahi’s trial and make up their own minds whether the prosecution of two Libyans at Camp Zeist near Utrecht was in fact a three-card trick put together for political ends.

Perhaps the result could have been different if there had been an entirely Scottish police investigation, with unrestricted access to all available information, without interference or manipulation from outside. Instead, from the beginning, the investigation and what were to become the most important aspects of the prosecution case against al-Megrahi were hijacked. Within hours, the countryside around Lockerbie was occupied: local people helping with the search under the supervision of Dumfries and Galloway police realised to their astonishment that the terrain was dotted with unidentified Americans not under the command of the local police.

Read the full article over at London Review of Books here…

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  1. Peter A Bell says:

    “Only a simpleton could believe that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, convicted of responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, was not recently returned to his home in Libya because it suited Britain.”

    Except for the irritatingly inconvenient fact that the British Government had no say in the matter of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi’s release on licence. It was entirely a matter for the Scottish authorities.

  2. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Yes. I’m sorry that silly unsubstantiated assertion undemines the rest of the article

  3. Soixante-neuf says:

    There are a number of unfortunate assertions in what could have been an absolutely stellar article. Miss Peirce was very new to Lockerbie investigation when she wrote that, though she of course did an admirable job in mastering the brief in a short time. Unfortunately she included a number of points that are more conspiracy theorising than real evidence.

    Nevertheless it’s a powerful piece, and it has provided excellent service in alerting many people to the problems with the conviction.

  4. Doug Daniel says:

    You could argue that finding out the truth over Lockerbie is more important than independence. Even if you only believe half of what that article says, the fact is there has almost certainly been a massive miscarriage of justice here. The new Scotland cannot truly begin until this massive stain on our judicial system is removed, whether that be through proving his innocence, or finally proving beyond all doubt his guilt. Of course, it is almost certainly impossible to do the latter.

    You have to ask why appeals take so long. He was granted a second appeal in 2007, and by 2009 that appeal had still not been heard. Why? If someone has potentially been wrongfully imprisoned, their appeal should be of the utmost importance, because if it turns out they were innocent after all, they need to be out of prison as soon as possible. If the SCCRC are satisfied that there are grounds for appeal, why can’t that evidence be tested in court as a matter of urgency?

    Lockerbie is a perfect example of what happens when a government needs a conviction. Who cares if the wrong person is imprisoned, as long as the public are given someone to satisfy their need to blame someone? Of course, this is amplified ten-fold when one of the governments in question is the US government.

    Megrahi was almost certainly a patsy. But what else can you expect when the FBI get involved in another country’s investigations?

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