Thursday 22 March 2012

We must lift the burden of false incrimination against a dying man

A letter by Dr Jim Swire published in today's edition of The Herald.

In a villa, within a high walled garden in Tripoli, Libya, there lies a man wracked by the pain of widespread cancer, living out the last days of his life, cared for by his wife and children.

His name is known around the world as Megrahi, "the Lockerbie bomber".

He is what we would call middle class. His work was as a part-time international entrepreneur, part time employee of his State's airline, where his role involved the unusual task of trying to obtain spares for that airline's Boeing airliners in the face of international sanctions against his state. His work took him often to Malta where he may have had a mistress. It also took him from time to time to Zurich.

Yes, he also had a state-issued passport in a false name, to facilitate and conceal his journeyings and no doubt his trysts. Later when both Abdelbasel Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, pictured, and his family were confined to Tripoli, awaiting trial, (which he had volunteered to attend, in order as he believed to clear his name), he arranged for two of his children also to be issued with false passports so that they could attend a children's festival in another country. Such were the mores of his country, such were the uses of false passports.

The Scottish court at Camp Zeist was told that an investigating Scottish policeman had kept a diary but he was not told to go and get it from Glasgow. Yet we now know it contained contemporaneous evidence that the Scottish investigators knew the Americans were offering multi million dollar rewards "with $10,000 up front" and that those who falsely identified Megrahi were also aware of rewards long before they gave their evidence.

We now know through the foresight of Megrahi's latter-day defence solicitor (now Professor) Tony Kelly of Glasgow,that it is not possible that the fragment found after the bombing could have come from a genuine Zurich timer board. That is unassailable scientific fact.

I hope that anyone reading this letter will consider the responsibility which Scotland carries for the failures that emerged in the delivery of justice at Zeist. We were responsible for failing to analyse "the fragment" fully, to discover whether it was genuine or not. We seem also to have been responsible for failing to produce evidence of the break-in at Heathrow which may have indicated a much simpler solution than the premeditated, contrived, cruel and criminal perversion of justice reached at Zeist.

It is time to lobby MSPs, to see if we can lift the terrible burden of false incrimination against this individual and his family, for which our court was in part responsible, before he dies. We may only have days or weeks to do so if he is to be alive to hear of it. Surely we owe that to him and to his family, currently cast as pariahs throughout the world. We also owe the truth about all that is known about the real killers, to the relatives of the victims.

We should remember the words of Nelson Mandela when the Zeist trial was announced: "No one country should be complainant, prosecutor and judge."  

Dr Jim Swire
21st February 2012

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