Thursday, June 28, 2007
Lockerbie appeal. posted by Richard SeymourAl-Megrahi has won the right to an appeal. Obviously, this is because the trial was a farce - quite why this wasn't widely perceived at the time I leave to your assessment. But one aspect of the mistrial that did emerge last year was that the prosecution had suppressed evidence. Hans Köchler, the UN observer at Camp Zeist, reported at the time that the trial had been politically manipulated, and that the verdict had been "totally incomprehensible":
In his report Köchler wrote that he found the presence of US Justice Department representatives in the court ‘highly problematic’, because it gave the impression that they were ‘“supervisors” handling vital matters of the prosecution strategy and deciding . . . which documents . . . were to be released in open court and what parts of information contained in a certain document were to be withheld.’ ‘The alternative theory of the defence,’ he went on, ‘was never seriously investigated. Amid shrouds of secrecy and national security considerations, that avenue was never seriously pursued – although it was officially declared as being of major importance for the defence case. This is totally incomprehensible to any rational observer.’ The prosecution, Köchler noted, dismissed evidence on the grounds that it was not relevant; but now that that evidence has finally – partially – been released, it turns out to be very relevant indeed: to the defence.
Robert Black QC, who devised the trial, said: "No reasonable tribunal, on the evidence heard at the original trial, should or could have convicted him and it is an absolute disgrace and outrage what the Scottish court did." One witness was abruptly prevented from giving evidence:
After Alan Turnbull QC, prosecuting, and defence counsel William Taylor QC and Richard Keen QC finished their questioning, the trial judge, Lord Sutherland, asked Mr Salinger to leave the witness box.
The broadcaster said: "That's all? You're not letting me tell the truth.
"Wait a minute, I know exactly who did it. I know how it was done."
Lord Sutherland interrupted and told the witness: "If you wish to make a point you may do so elsewhere, but I'm afraid you may not do so in this court."
The Tory Lord Fraser who ran the prosecution later cast doubt on the reliability of the evidence of one of the key prosecution witnesses, telling the Sunday Times that he felt the Maltese shop-owner named Tony Gucci had been "one apple short of a picnic". "Gauci was not quite the full shilling," he said. "He was quite a tricky guy, I don’t think he was deliberately lying but if you asked him the same question three times he would just get irritated and refuse to answer." He later 'clarified' his remarks in light of a serious prospect of him having to answer embarrassing questions about his own conduct. I don't think anyone who was being fully reasonable about it could conceivably conclude that Fraser had been misrepresented, as he claimed to have been.
Naturally, the television news has raised the dread 'conspiracy' word. However, they have decided that it's worth providing about half of the alternative account of what took place. My guess is that this is because Iran get the blame for having caused the explosion. However, the evidence is much more complex than this, and tends to suggest the involvement of many agencies, including American ones. At any rate, I gave a brief run-down of some the evidence collated by Paul Foot in his investigation of the matter here, and you can always read his articles here and here. If anyone wants a complete copy of Foot's 1995 investigation, e-mail me.