Scotland: Lockerbie Update

New revelations produced by BBC Scotland suggest that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan jailed for life following the 1988 Lockerbie bombing may not be guilty after all. Part of the evidence against him was that he was in Malta, and was identified by a key witness there, at the time the bomb which destroyed Pan-Am Flight 103 was placed in a suitcase and loaded on to the aircraft. The Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci, identified Megrahi as the man he sold clothes to and which were later found in a suitcase which had contained the bomb. He claimed that Megrahi visited his shop, Mary’s House, on 7 December 1988. It now appears that he was having an affair with a woman in Malta and that was the reason for his visit there. There has been controversy in respect of this date and that was one of the reasons giving rise to the investigation by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) which found that he may have suffered from a miscarriage of justice. It referred the case to the Scottish Court of Appeal. However, as al-Megrahi was (is) suffering from terminal cancer it was agreed that he would be released on compassionate grounds if he withdrew his appeal. Thus, the SCCRC report was never published, but it has now been seen by BBC Scotland. In his precognition ( a legal statement given to defence lawyers before a trial) he explained that it was easy for him to travel between Libya and Malta. “As a Libyan Arab Airlines employee and as someone well known, both at Tripoli airport and at the airport in Malta, I could get away with not using a passport or an identification card at all, but simply by wearing my Libyan Arab Airlines uniform. This may sound ridiculous but it is true”. He continued in the precognition, “If I wanted to do something clandestine in such a way that there would be absolutely no record at all of me going from Tripoli to Malta and back again, I could do it.” However, according to BBC Scotland, his defence lawyers realised if the original trial had known how easily Megrahi could travel undetected to Malta it could have strengthened the prosecution case. According to the SCCRC document: “If the applicant (Megrahi) had spoken to this in evidence it would have removed the need for the Crown to establish the date of purchase of the items from Mary’s House as 7 December 1988.” SCCRC investigators interviewed Megrahi in Greenock Prison and, according to the BBC report, discovered he had a mistress in Malta whom he may have visited twice in December, 1988 – including the night before the bombing. “It was possible therefore that the reason for his visit to Malta on 20 December was to meet a woman for this purpose,” the SCCRC report said.Reported to IFTTA by John Downes.

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