Justice finally served in Lockerbie frame-up

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi was found guilty on January 31, 2001, of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing in Scotland that killed 270 civilians.

The evidence was extremely weak. It amounted to Megrahi having purchased clothes of the same type as found in the suitcase containing the bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103, the fact that Megrahi had worked for Libyan intelligence and other circumstantial evidence.

Robert Black QC, a professor of Scottish law at Edinburgh University, told the BBC on February 4, 2001: "This was a very, very weak circumstantial case. I am absolutely astounded, astonished. I was extremely reluctant to believe that any Scottish judge would convict anyone, even a Libyan, on the basis of such evidence."

Megrahi was finally released on August 20 from Scottish prison, suffering from terminal prostate cancer, on compassionate grounds. He maintains his innoccence.

The article below is by John Wright and is reprinted from www.socialistunity.com.

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With the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi on compassionate grounds, one of the worst miscarriages of justice ever perpetrated by the so-called international community has been reversed.

Megrahi has terminal cancer and has now returned to his homeland of Libya, where he is expected to die within months.

He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2001, 11 years after the bombing was carried out, after a trial in the Netherlands conducted under Scots Law. Megrahi has consistently protested his innocence of the biggest terrorist attack ever committed in Britain.

Some 270 people were killed when a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie on December 21, 1988. The victims comprised all 243 passengers and 16 crew members on board, along with 11 residents of the small Scottish town of Lockerbie, located in Dumfries and Galloway.

Some of the relatives of the victims have consistently cast doubt over Megrahi's conviction.

Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the bombing, recently told BBC radio: "I don't believe the verdict is right. It would be an abominable cruelty to force this man to die in prison."

Other relatives remain circumspect, and on these grounds had called for Megrahi's latest appeal, which he dropped a few days before his release, to be heard.

Pamela Dix, whose brother Peter died in the attack, said: "I am not absolutely convinced of Megrahi's guilt nor of his innocence. We simply at this point do not know enough to be able to make that judgment."

However, victims' families in the United States have called for Megrahi to complete his sentence in Scotland and remain convinced of his guilt.

The US government appealed to secretary for justice in the Scottish parliament, Kenny McAskill, not to release Megrahi, including a personal phone call from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

On the 20th anniversary of the bombing, in December 2008 award winning journalist Hugh Miles wrote an opinion piece for the British Independent titled "Lockerbie: was it Iran? Syria? All I know is, it wasn't the man in prison".

Miles analysed Megrahi's conviction and some of the many unanswered questions surrounding it.

The entire case, from the bombing in 1988 all the way up to Megrahi's release, reflects a shift in the geopolitical and strategic interests of the nations concerned. Back in 1988, Libya occupied the status of an international pariah in the West.

The Libyan government, then as now led by Colonel Gadaffi, at one time funded and supported national liberation organisations and movements as disparate as the Provisional IRA in Ireland and Black September in Palestine, as well as various militant groups throughout the developing world.

During the 1980s, the Reagan administration sought to overthrow Gadaffi.

Many commentators and analysts maintain the 1988 Lockerbie bombing was the work of Iran in conjunction with Syria — carried out in retaliation for the shooting down of an Iranian passenger aircraft over the Strait of Hormuz in July 1988 by the US navy.

These events came just two years after the story broke that officials within US intelligence and government had conducted secret arms deals with Iran in an attempt to obtain the release of US hostages being held by Iranian-backed militias in Lebanon.

The money paid for the weapons was used to fund the Contra death squads in Nicaragua, as part of the US-organised attempt to overthrow the left-wing Sandinista government.

In March 1988, Colonel Oliver North and John Poindexter, a former naval officer and national security advisor in the Reagan administration, were convicted in relation to the scandal.

Many believe it was in the interests of the US government to conceal Iran's involvement in the Lockerbie bombing to conceal the extent of the Reagan administration's involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, which Reagan vigorously maintained he knew nothing about.

Today, Libya is no longer viewed as a rogue state in the West. Gadaffi has been rehabilitated as a leader the West can do business with.

Given its huge oil reserves, the official visits to Libya by former British PM Tony Blair in 2004, followed by former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in 2008, come as no surprise.

Regardless of the geopolitical context surrounding the Megrahi case, McAskill and the Scottish government are to be congratulated for refusing to bow to US pressure to force the Megrahi to die in a Scottish prison instead of being allowed to return to his family to see out his final days.

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