Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gareth Peirce on the Framing of al-Megrahi

Gareth Peirce, who, in the film In the Name of the Father, was portrayed by Emma Thompson.

Top UK lawyer Gareth Peirce, in the Independent on Sunday (20 September 2009) and in the London Review of Books, tells us about the framing of al-Megrahi

(Gareth Peirce: The Framing of al-Megrahi)

Here are some of the points made by Peirce:

1. Within hours of PanAm 103 coming down over Lockerbie, "the countryside around Lockerbie was occupied."

The countryside "was dotted with unidentified Americans not under the command of the local police."

"Scores of men, some wearing no insignia, some the insignia of the FBI ...invaded the area.

"Lockerbie residents reported seeing unmarked helicopters hovering overhead, carrying men with rifles whose telescopic sights were pointing directly at them...

"The suitcase belonging to Major McKee (a CIA operative flying back to the US to report on his concern that the couriering of drugs was being officially condoned...) was found to have had a hole cut in its side after the explosion.

"A second suitcase, opened by a Scottish farmer, contained packets of white powder which a local police officer told him was undoubtedly heroin."

2. "The integrity of the crime scene was violated ... outsiders were conducting a desperate search for wreckage that it was important for them to find and spirit away."

3. Some people had warnings.

"The staff of the American Embassy in Moscow, who usually travelled by Pan Am when they returned to the US for Christmas, used a different airline."

4. In 1989 The Sunday Times "stated categorically that the bombing had been carried out by the German PFLP-GC cell led by Dalkamoni under orders from Ahmad Jibril and with a bomb made by Khreesat."

5. The bomb was supposed to have been put onto a plane in Malta.

"If the intended target was an American aircraft, why risk a premature explosion triggered by the barometric switch by putting the suitcase on an Air Malta flight?

"The scientific underpinning necessary to support a counter-proposition was established during 1989 and 1990 and rested on two ‘discoveries’: a fragment of an entirely different type of timer in the remnant of a shirt collar and the matching of that fragment with the manufacturer’s prototype.

"This timer, it was argued, could, once set, keep a barometric switch from detonating for days.

6. "The centre of the Lockerbie investigation ... ceased to be Scotland: the CIA was in charge.

"Vincent Cannistraro had made his mark under Ronald Reagan, with a clandestine programme to destabilise the Libyan regime.

"He boasted that he ‘developed the policy towards Libya’ which culminated in the bombing of Gaddafi’s house in Tripoli in 1986 on the basis of intercept evidence later acknowledged to be false.

"Now brought out of retirement, Cannistraro shifted the (Lockerbie) investigation’s approach."

7. "Al-Megrahi’s conviction was in large part based on the evidence of scientists (Thomas Thurman and others) whose value as professional witnesses had been permanently and publicly demolished ten years before his trial..."

Cartoon from:

8. A key witness was Mr Bollier.

"Dr Köchler, the UN’s observer throughout the trial, recorded that Bollier had been ‘brusquely interrupted’ by the presiding judge when he attempted to raise the issue of the possible manipulation of the timer fragments.

"Could the MEBO board, or a part of one, have been planted in such a way that it could be conveniently ‘discovered’?

"After the trial, new evidence that would have been at the centre of al-Megrahi’s now abandoned appeal made this suggestion more credible: a Swiss electronics engineer called Ulrich Lumpert, formerly employed by Bollier’s firm, stated in an affidavit to Köchler that in 1989 he stole a ‘non-operational’ timing board from MEBO and handed it to ‘a person officially investigating in the Lockerbie case’.

"Bollier himself told Köchler that he was offered $4 million if he would connect the timer to Libya."

9. Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper, ... described al-Megrahi as ‘6’0’’’ (he was 5’8’’), ‘50 years old’ (he was 37), and ‘hefty’; said that he ‘had been to the shop before and after’, ‘had been there only once’; that he ‘saw him in a bar months later’; that he ‘will sign statement even though I don’t speak English’; that al-Megrahi ‘was similar but not identical’, ‘perhaps like him but not fully like him’, and, fatally for any identification of al-Megrahi in the first place, that he was ‘like the man in the Sunday Times’ (in other words, like Abu Talb, whose picture Gauci had initially identified).

"But Gauci’s evidence was needed and, reports suggest, handsomely rewarded. He apparently now lives in Australia, supported by millions of US dollars."

10. "That a court of three experienced judges convicted on such evidence and that an appeal court upheld the conviction is profoundly shocking.

11. "Köchler, the UN observer, reported finding the guilty verdict ‘incomprehensible’ in view of the court’s admission that Gauci’s identification was ‘not absolute’.

"We had come to believe that such an outcome, resting on invalid identification, was no longer possible.

"‘The guilty verdict’, Köchler wrote, was ‘arbitrary, even irrational’ with an ‘air of international power politics’ present ‘in the whole verdict’, which was ‘based on a series of highly problematic inferences’.

"He remarked on the withholding of ‘substantial information’ (‘more or less openly exercised influence on the part of actors outside the judicial framework’) and on the very visible interference with the work of the Scottish prosecutors by US lawyers present in the well of the court.

"But most seriously, he set out his ‘suspicion that political considerations may have been overriding a strictly judicial evaluation of the case’...

" Dr Köchler recorded at its conclusion that it was ‘not fair’ and that it was not ‘conducted in an objective manner’, so that there were ‘many more questions and doubts at the end than the beginning’."



McGonagall said...

"That a court of three experienced judges convicted on such evidence and that an appeal court upheld the conviction is profoundly shocking."

Yes indeed.

Anonymous said...

Megrahi was clearly the fall guy, but concentrating on this outrage again will achieve absolutely nothing. If these reptiles can cover up 911, what chance is there of disclosure on the Lockerbie case.

We can't even pin them down on their mass slaughter committed live on camera. We need to start thinking of other ways to fight back.

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