Thursday, 14 May 2009

The appeal: week three

The first session of Abdelbaset Megrah's appeal has been continuing in the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh though, until today, there has been no media coverage that I have been able to trace on the internet. However, a report has now appeared on The Herald's website. It reads in part:

'The Libyan intelligence officer convicted of the Lockerbie bombing made an unexplained trip to Malta using a false passport and an assumed name, appeal judges were told yesterday.

'He arrived the day the bomb that killed 270 people was planted at the island's Luqa Airport and left the following morning, said Ronnie Clancy QC.

'"At no stage was any significant evidence offered as to the issue or use of the passport in any innocent connection.

'"The only evidence about that was a false denial of the possession of the passport."

'Despite rumours that have been circulating for days that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi will drop his appeal in exchange for a return to Libya, the hearing continued at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh. (...)

'Defence QC Maggie Scott has been arguing that no reasonable jury would have found al Megrahi guilty and that there was not sufficient evidence, in law, to convict him.

'Mr Clancy, for the Crown, has now begun the task of trying to demolish the defence claims by reminding the five appeal judges of the reasons why their colleagues found al Megrahi guilty in 2001.

'"No explanation for the visit to Malta the evening before the device was on the plane and departed for Tripoli the following morning," said Mr Clancy.

'"It is clear beyond doubt that the court is linking the use of the passport with the commission of the offence," he said.

'If the Libyan wins this round of his long-running appeal he could go home a free man. If the court, led by Lord Justice General Lord Hamilton, rules against him, al Megrahi still has other challenges to his conviction that are yet to be argued.'

[As regards the coded -- not false -- passport, it is of relevance only if the bomb actually started from Malta, which is a finding that the defence have strongly challenged in the appeal; and they have pointed out that although Megrahi travelled under a coded passport, he stayed in a hotel in Malta under his own name.]


  1. "At no stage was any significant evidence offered as to the issue or use of the passport in any innocent connection..."
    I would have preferred had Mr. Megrahis team offered an explanation for the stay and the Abdusamad passport. That would have made things easier.
    But in my understanding it was the prosecution that was obliged to present evidence THAT the stay and passport HAD anything to do with the Lockerbie bomb. This evidence was not presented. Instead the prosecution and thereafter the judges speculated to establish a "link" that was not established in court.
    When Ronnie Clancy QC now demands that Mr. Megrahi´s team should offer "significant evidence" - in my view it is simply rubbish.

  2. On the evening of 12/20/88, Mr. Megrahi DID NOT stay at a hotel under his true name as your comment indicates. He stayed at the Holiday Inn in Malta under his "other" identity--Abdusamad--the man he said he never heard of.

  3. Hi, Richard Marquise, you surely forgot to answer my further down comment on Giaka?
    And, as an experienced FBI officer you may confirm that alias passports are commonly used by security officers of all countries and for all possible purposes. The use of alias passports is not confined to alleged terrrorists.
    Therefore the stay of Mr. Megrahi in Malta is only a lose hint and far away from any evidence, right?
    Expecitng your answer.

  4. As Mr Marquise very well knows, Mr Megrahi claimed his Libyan Arab Airlines discount at the hotel on that visit, under his true name.

  5. Professor Black-- please educate me. You are right that Mr. Megrahi did in fact claim his "discount"--in the name of Abdusamad. If you recall he denied ever being in Malta on those dates (until proven at trial). If he always denied being there, how could he have claimed his "discount" using his true name? Please show me where that information exists. If you were to look at the "evidence" it clearly shows that Mr. Megrahi did not use his true name on 12/20 or 12/21 when in Malta, but in fact used the name on his "coded" passport--Abdusamad. As Mr. Megrahi said in his television interview, "I wasn't there, maybe this name (Abdusamad) traveling I don't know. But I told you, maybe someone used this name I don't know, actually, but believe me--I wasn't there at that time. On 20 December or 21 at that time, I wasn't there, believe me, I was here in Tripoli with my family..." The facts speak for themselves and so did Mr. Megrahi.

  6. The evidence that Megrahi claimed the Libyan Arab Airlines discount in his own name came on day 30 of the trial from witness Doreen Caruana, who worked at the Holiday Inn in Sliema. See trial transcript page 4663.

  7. Professor,I am amazed that you can call yourself an expert in the Lockerbie trial yet not only show a lack of general knowledge of the evidence, you have changed the facts. Although the transcript does show that airline personnel claim the LAA discount, there is no evidence that Mr. Megrahi claimed it on Dec. 20-21. Your referral to a particular page was a question of a general nature and not one which related to Mr. Megrahi filling out any hotel registration for December 20-21 in his own name. Back on page 4652 there is discussion by the witness about the registration card filled out by Mr. Abdusamad.
    The fact remains-- your claim that "As Mr Marquise very well knows, Mr Megrahi claimed his Libyan Arab Airlines discount at the hotel on that visit, under his true name" is simply not correct.

  8. Dear Mr. Marquise,
    could we establish agreement over following points:
    1. That it is not for an accused to present evidence that she or he is innocent. It is for the prosecution to present evidence that he or she is guilty.
    2. Insofar it makes no judicial sense if the Crown´s representative now mourn that Mr. Megrahi didn´t explain why he was on a stopover in Malta on December 20. and 21. 1988.
    3. That Mr. Megrahi frequently used Malta for a one-night-stopover. And frequently he used an alias-passport. Insofar the December stopover was nothing special.
    4. That it is quite normal for secret service agents either to get diplomatic status or to use alias-passports.
    5. That Mr. Giaka was paid before and after the trial.
    6. That Giaka was a key witness for the prosecution.
    7. That Giaka´s only value for the USA was to get information about the Lockerbie case.
    8. That it would be unfair towards people like Mr. Gauci when Giaka was paid and Gauci not.
    9. That the FBI in 1995 produced a poster showing Megrahi and Fhimah under the text “GIVE US THESE TERRORISTS. WE´LL GIVE YOU UP TO $4MILLION."