[A-List] Lockerbie verdict
Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Sun Mar 17 23:53:36 MST 2002
I've always been impressed by Jim Swire, whose leadership of the UK Lockerbie families was very quiet, understated and yet determined. Unlike many portrayals in the mainstream news media, including, of course, BBC World last week, Swire has not swallowed the line about a Libyan plot, but rather has stuck to the original hypothesis concerning a joint Iranian-Syrian conspiracy involving the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. When, in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, expediency ruled that the "coalition" against Saddam include such neighbouring countries as Syria and Iran. A convenient bogey in the shape of Colonel Gaddafi appeared as if on cue, and suddenly evidence was found unmistakeably linking Tripoli with the disaster. Meanwhile investigative journalists including Paul Foot and his team at Private Eye have uncovered conflicting evidence which suggests the original hypothesis was stronger, together with more evidence of an orchestrated cover-up and stitch-up. Now, in the aftermath of the failed appeal of Megrahi, Swire is again voicing doubts about the whole thing. This contrasts markedly with the very pointed expressions of relief and closure at the verdict by "leaders" of the US families, who, inevitably, are regretting the absence of the death penalty in the UK.
Swire fears miscarriage of justice
The Herald, 18 March 2002
BRITISH relatives of the Lockerbie victims said
yesterday that they believed judges jailed the wrong
Jim Swire, who lost his daughter, Flora, in the 1988
disaster, said "We think there has been a
miscarriage of justice. Thank God that Britain
doesn't have the death penalty."
Dr Swire said that many of the relatives felt that
Abdelbaset Ali al Megrahi was not the man
"We think that the judges were excellent and the
prosecution was very good, but that the defence
was very poor," he said.
At a meeting of UK Families Flight 103, a support
group set up after the disaster, members yesterday
decided not to pursue the criminal case into
responsibility for the disaster any further.
Instead, the relatives agreed to concentrate on
setting up an independent public inquiry to find out if
the bombing could have been prevented.
Dr Swire said: "I do feel that we are now a spent
force as regards the criminal process. If this is to
be taken any further, then it will have to be done by
Last Thursday, Megrahi, 49, lost his appeal against
the 2001 conviction that found him responsible for
the bomb that brought down PanAm flight 103,
killing 270 people.
Dr Swire said that the priority now was to hold Tony
Blair, the prime minister, to a promise made to
victims' relatives that there would be a public
inquiry once the criminal case had finished. He
said: "We have to have an inquiry that has real
authority to insist that its recommendations are
acted upon, otherwise we feel that there could be
another air disaster many times worse than
Lockerbie or even September 11."
In Libya, thousands of demonstrators took to the
streets yesterday to protest against Megrahi's
Surrounded by anti-riot police, the demonstrators
gathered in front of the United Nations office in
Tripoli, the capital, and, in a statement handed to a
UN representative, called on the international body
to, "interfere to save the political hostage
Abdelbaset al Megrahi".
"The sentence contradicts international laws as it
was handed as a result of political pressure aimed
at settling accounts with the Libyan revolution," the
The Libyan government has described the
unanimous decision by the five judges at Camp
Zeist, in the Netherlands, as a "political verdict" and
has promised to continue efforts to free Megrahi.
On Thursday, security surrounding some foreign
embassies and UN offices in Tripoli was
heightened in anticipation of violent protests similar
to those of last year, when Megrahi was convicted.
Megrahi was found guilty of loading an
unaccompanied suitcase bomb in Malta that was
later transferred on to PanAm Flight 103, which
exploded en route from London to New York.
Following the failure of Megrahi's appeal, the Libyan
government said it would take the case to the
highest legal bodies, the House of Lords and the
European Court of Human Rights.
Libya's foreign ministry has also demanded an
immediate lifting of UN sanctions imposed on the
north African country and compensation for
financial and human damages they have caused.
Sanctions against Libya were suspended, but not
lifted, in 1999 after Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan
leader, turned over Megrahi and his alleged
accomplice, Al Amin Khalifa Fhima - later acquitted
- to the court.
The US applies its own sanctions against Libya.
Full article at:
Mercuria Business School
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
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