Friday, 1 December 2017

Salmond condemned after casting doubt on Lockerbie conviction

[This is the headline over a report in today’s edition of The Times. It reads as follows:]

Alex Salmond has provoked criticism for claiming that the only man jailed for the Lockerbie bombing was wrongly convicted.

The former first minister said he believed that Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi was guilty of playing a part in the terrorist attack that killed 270 people in December 1988, but that the court was wrong to convict him.

The declaration by the man who led the Scottish government at the time that Megrahi was released in 2009, on compassionate grounds, provoked surprise and condemnation.

Dick Marquise, head of the US Lockerbie task force between 1988 and 1992, told The Times that Megrahi had been “rightly convicted”.

Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the crash and who has campaigned for Megrahi’s conviction to be re-examined, asked why Mr Salmond had not spoken up earlier, when his views might have had an impact.

Mr Salmond made his comments on his television programme, The Alex Salmond Show, for RT, formerly Russia Today. [RB: The programme can be viewed here.] Mr Salmond said: “Here is my view: is it possible for someone to be guilty, yet wrongly convicted? Yes it is.”

He said that the forensic science evidence showed Libyan involvement and that Megrahi was working for Libyan intelligence at the time. He added: “His conviction was not just based on the strength of that evidence but on identification evidence which is . . . open to question.”

The former SNP leader said he was aware of issues with the identification back in 2009, the year Megrahi was released by Kenny MacAskill, who was justice secretary at the time, because he was gravely ill. He died three years later in Libya. Mr MacAskill has said that while Megrahi was probably involved, others may have played key roles.

Dr Swire said: “Just like Kenny MacAskill, it is a shame Alex Salmond waited until after he left office before revealing these doubts.”

Mr Marquise said: “Based on the preponderance of all the evidence, Megrahi was rightly convicted. For two political types who never spent one minute talking to or observing the demeanour of a witness during the trial, to make comment such as ‘his conviction was not just based on the strength of the evidence but on identification evidence’ is just stupid.

“The inference can be made from these comments that identification evidence is worthless and it is not.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “Megrahi was convicted in a court of law – his conviction was upheld on appeal — and that is the only appropriate place for his guilt or innocence to be determined.”

Alex Salmond’s intervention in the Lockerbie saga is puzzling on several counts (Magnus Linklater writes).

First, the timing: he was aware of the grounds for a possible miscarriage of justice, explored by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, five years ago. Yet he has not hitherto voiced doubts about the safety of Megrahi’s conviction. By concluding that he was “guilty” of being a participant in the bomb plot, but wrongly convicted, he must have changed his mind, but offers no real explanation as to why. He must know that the identification issue was only a part of the prosecution case, and he must know that in the past two years the only new evidence to have emerged has gone towards confirming the guilty verdict.

It would be better if Mr Salmond produced the new evidence on which he bases his conclusion, rather than further adding to a thicket of conspiracy theories.

1 comment:

    US and UK were ‘double-dealing’ on Megrahi release
    [This is part of the headline on a report in “The National” Edition: November 30, 2017.]

    ALI al- Megrahi, the son of Adelbaset al- Megrahi comments the article from his point of view:
    The Scottish officials always seem to have an excuse for the situation around the release of my father on compassioned grounds.
    He was diagnosed of cancer and they told him that he would die very soon. (3 months) There was a new efficient drug against cancer on the market, but at the time, not available in Scotland.

    Almost a year after his release, Britons and Americans questioned the original forecast of a maximum of three months of life expectancy, as Al-Megrahi was still alive after twelve months, then Newspapers revealed that a major reason for the misdiagnosis of life expectancy was apparently the failure to take into account cancer drugs available today.

    With these drugs, the remaining life expectancy can be increased. Meanwhile, four American senators are calling for Scotland to hand over the report that freed the Libyan to the Americans. In the letter, they asked, inter alia, the names, the state of education and the specialization of the doctors who had examined
    Fact is that my father lived for another 3 years at our house in Tripoli. He was given the new drug medicine for prostate cancer by a private person via the Libyan Embassy in the USA, but only after 7 months of his arrival August 20, 2009 in Libya.
    The US government did not supply these medicaments, they were not involved. Also Scottish medical authorities were not involved at all. He received it thanks support of a private person and it allowed him to live among his family for nearly 3 years. He passed away on May 20, 2012 from the consequences of his cancer.

    I spent most of my time on his side and had the opportunity to speak to him about the Lockerbie case. I am fully convinced that he is innocent and had nothing to do with the bombing of PanAm 103.
    Abdelbaset Al Megrahi and Libya were entangled in the Lockerbie tragedy, by a constructed fraud of evidence and an obviously wrong comparison of an MST13 timer circuit board with a – so called TOGO timer K-1! Our family is now waiting for the results of the new appeal in Scotland. We also have high expectations with the findings of the “Operation Sandwood” by Scottish Police and hope that justice will
    prevail a.s.a.p.

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