Al-Megrahi: An Innocent Man, Left To Rot

meWhen, as latest news reports suggest, Lockerbie convict Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi will sometime this week be set free from a Scottish jail, an administrative end will have come to one of the worst, most shameful miscarriages of justice the world has seen in recent years, or possibly ever. I say ‘administrative’ because, with al-Megrahi’s health effectively ruined through medical neglect (not many prison inmates under constant obervation  nowadays face death from untreated prostate cancer) the injustice will follow him right into his unnecessarily early grave. Forget any bullshit about this being an act of compassion: sending him home to Libya now that his demise seems imminent will save the Scottish authorities further unwanted expense and a flurry of equally unwanted bad publicity.

What angers me most about this hideous affair is that, at the time of the ridiculous show trial in Holland’s Camp Zeist, it was already clear that there was no evidence available that would stand up in any normal western court. What clinched the case against al-Megrahi was the testimony of a dodgy Maltese shopkeeper with a tenuous grip on the truth and a poor recollection of facts. (The shopkeeper’s name, by the way, was Gauci, which just happens to be the surname of a hot operatic favourite of mine, soprano Miriam Gauci. I hope fervently that they’re not related, but Malta is a small country.) The ‘evidence’ that sent al-Megrahi to his doom, under examination, wouldn’t have convicted a jaywalker. Not surprising, because everything, absolutely everything, to do with the case militates against al-Megrahi’s guilt.al-Megrahi

I am aware that, in the wake of the terrible act of terrorism against the PanAm airliner -270 innocent dead is a ghastly toll- emotions ran high, both in the UK and the United States. Acts like that, I fully agree, must not go unpunished and the sooner the guilty are collared, the easier it is for the relatives of the victims to find closure and get on with their lives. Even at the time, rumours were buzzing around the world of western intelligence that Iran was most likely involved. After all, five months earlier a US warship in the Gulf had shot down an Iranian civilian airliner; by mistake, as Washington insisted. That might -some say ‘should’- have fulfilled the prime requirement in proving a criminal’s guilt: establishing a motive. The other requirement, opportunity, did not enter the equation at all for, as we all know, in the world of international terrorism there’s always a way where there’s a will. Trouble was: Iran is rich in oil and militarily powerful. Any retribution for Lockerbie would inevitably be costly, dangerous and time-consuming. Somebody mentioned Syria as a possibility: no good, same story, except the oil. An easier, quicker fix was obviously needed.

I have no idea who it was that hit on the Libyan variant (dammit, I can’t know everything) but what’s certain is that it had, from a western point of view, obvious merits. Libya had oil, its leader Khadaffi, after exchanging a series of blows with the United States, seemed keen to come in from the cold and become a respectable world leader and car designer, there was a deal on there. All the west needed was some names, preferably names of people professionally involved in international skulduggery. Where better to look than the Libyan intelligence service? We all know what happened next. Two names were produced, Khadaffi -after some hemming and hawing for public consumption- handed them over and justice was on its way. Next came the Camp Zeist trial, where a bunch of superannuated Scottish dodderers sat in judgement as western (read: American) prosecutors pulled the wool over their eyes. So there we were, in rural Holland: two defendants, a battery of international journalists, a prosecution that knew what it was after, a bench that was half asleep most of the time and not a shred of serious evidence. Sorry, I take that back. There was serious evidence that Iran was involved, but it was not admitted in court. (The fact that, only recently, al-Megrahi had instructed is legal team to publish the evidence may well have caused the sudden upsurge of ‘compassion’ that has come over the Scottish authorities.)

al-MegrahiIt didn’t matter, of course. The two men in the dock, in the absence of support from their own government (which had sold them down the river) didn’t stand a chance of justice. After all, who was going to complain? Not Khadaffi, who had international respectability on his mind. Not anyone, in fact, except a few independent minds around the world who saw the whole thing as an exercise in cynicism, a convenient stitch-up of a couple of nameless, unlamented patsies. Their views appeared, in print and on the internet, but they were not heeded. I was one of those and still am.

al-MegrahiIn the most bizarre twist of all, al-Megrahi’s co-defendant was found not guilty and allowed to return home. That left the ultimate, familiar outcome: the world was told that the bombing of the PanAm airliner over Lockerbie in 1988 was the work of a single man, one with no previous record of terrorist activity or intent, a man with no accomplices, not doing his government’s bidding; a man with no discernible personal motive, a man implicated by no solid evidence of any kind: forensic, circumstantial or even testimonial. He had no reason for doing it, yet he did it; that’s what we’re supposed to believe. Do they think we are all stark raving mad?

Abdelhaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, you don’t know me but I want you to know that I am your friend. Hilary Clinton may want you to rot in jail (there are votes to be had in America for those who take that position), but I know you are innocent. My most fervent hope right now is that, insh’Allah, you will still somehow recover from your illness and live out your life in the bosom of your family.

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8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Eddie said,

    Excellent summary.

  2. 2

    IRONSIDE said,

    A very emotional article. I do not think there are many who did not realise this was a stitch up. I do not know your opinion on the Twin Towers when once again the Arabs were to blame …proof ¡¡¡¡¡a van found not far away with a Koran inside…Not many mention that at the time of the attack Bin Ladens whole family were having tea with father Bush and later that afternoon all flown out of the states.
    As for the stance of Hillary Clinton, she blows with the wind,all for the Iraq war at the time but when she wanted to be President changed her tune. I have always thought it a very good move on the part of Obama that he did not make her vice president. I have no doubt at all that within a year he would have been assassinated and she would have become President. The Clintons have been involved in a death before. Abdelhaset Ali will not have been the first nor will he be the last to be stitched up by the west.

  3. 3

    IRONSIDE said,

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3509344.stm

    Lockerbie bomber ‘is innocent’

    Dr Swire’s daughter was killed the day before her 24th birthday
    The campaigning father of one of the Lockerbie bombing victims has met the wife of the man he believes was wrongly convicted of carrying out the attack.
    Dr Jim Swire helped convict Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, but now believes the Libyan security agent is innocent.

    He says he set up the recent meeting in Glasgow through the Libyan embassy in London because of a sense of guilt.

    Megrahi’s wife Aisha, 41, lives with their four children in Glasgow to be near her husband in Barlinnie jail.

    I fear I may have played an important part in a miscarriage of justice

    Dr Swire and his wife Jane lost their daughter Flora when PanAm 103 exploded over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988.

    The blast killed all 259 people on board and 11 residents in the Scottish town.

    Dr Swire said: “I told her [Mrs Megrahi] I fear I may have played an important part in a miscarriage of justice.

    “I told her I hoped there would be a new appeal and of my guilt over what has happened to her husband, who I believe is innocent.

    “I don’t agree with the verdict of the Scottish court but we must accept it until they decide differently.”

    Many relatives of the 270 victims want an independent inquiry

    Flora Swire died on the eve of her 24th birthday as she flew to spend Christmas with her American boyfriend.

    As head of the organisation representing families of the UK victims, Dr Swire was instrumental in bringing Al Megrahi, 51, to justice. He met Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi three times.

    Al Megrahi was found guilty in 2001 of the bombing and sentenced to life imprisonment at a specially-convened Scottish court in the Netherlands.

    The Libyan was told last November by three Scottish judges that he must spend at least 27 years in jail before being considered for parole.

    Trade sanctions on Libya were lifted earlier this year after the state admitted liability for the bombing and paid around £2.2m to the family of each victim.

    Many families are still calling for an independent inquiry into the bombing, including claims that warnings of a possible threat were ignored.
    __________________

  4. 6

    IRONSIDE said,

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2004/mar/31/lockerbie.libya

    Where theres Blair theres a dirty cover up…

  5. 7

    Ian Bourne said,

    Absolutely correct. This was obvious at the time and remains obvious to anyone with the slightest will to see it. Shameful miscarriage of justice.

  6. 8

    IRONSIDE said,

    The truth is slowly but surely starting to leak out.


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