Patterico's Pontifications

2/1/2010

Releasing al Megrahi

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 1:59 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Yesterday was the 9th anniversary of the murder conviction of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi in the Lockerbie Pan Am 103 bombing. As then Acting Deputy Attorney General Robert S. Mueller III said at the time:

“The evidence presented at the Scottish trial in The Netherlands established that Megrahi was a member of intelligence services within the Libyan government. The guilty verdict serves to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that as set forth in the charge an which the conviction was rendered the defendant destroyed Pan Am flight 103 and murdered its occupants and residents of Lockerbie “in furtherance of the purpose of Libyan Intelligence Services.”

Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds on August 20, 2009, reportedly because he was dying of incurable prostate cancer. At last report (mid-December 2009), he was alive and living in his family’s Libyan villa.

There was speculation at the time of Megrahi’s release that it was part of a British government effort to smooth trade relations between Libya and British Petroleum, although the British government denied the claim. Now, however, the Independent reports that discussions between Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw and a BP consultant may have paved the way for Megrahi’s release:

“Mr Straw has admitted having two conversations with Sir Mark Allen, a former MI6 agent turned BP consultant, in the autumn of 2007. But he has insisted that “at no stage was any undertaking promised, hinted, given to the Libyans, that in return for an overall bilateral arrangement Mr Megrahi would be released”.

At the time of the conversations, the Government’s position was to exclude Megrahi from the PTA [Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya] deal. But that December, Mr Straw announced a change of policy, writing to the Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, to say he could not guarantee Megrahi would be excluded from the deal – effectively paving the way for his release.”

Straw has reportedly blocked an FOIA request seeking more information about the discussions.

H/T Eric PW Johnson.

— DRJ

PS — British officials previously said the Obama Administration knew in advance about Britain’s “prisoner transfer agreement with Libya and they knew that the Scots were considering Megrahi’s case.”

8 Responses to “Releasing al Megrahi”

  1. If Reagan were president, Gaddafi would be worried. As it is, we are the ones who should be worried. I don’t know how many saw Ralph Peters article in the NY Post from Saturday. Our one hope is that Iran falls to revolution. Michael Ledeen is mildly optimistic. The creepy appeasement of thugs like Gaddafi is enough to make one give up hope although 2012 is coming.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  2. “prostrate cancer”??

    that’s one that will knock you flat if you don’t catch it in time…..

    %-)

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  3. Darn typos but that’s funny, red. Thanks, and I’ve corrected it.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  4. Wow. That desert air cured him!!!!!

    daleyrocks (718861)

  5. Too bad we couldn’t have an off-course problem with one of our Predator drones?

    AD - RtR/OS! (810a60)

  6. Obama blames his predecessor.

    the wolf (85e509)

  7. After 21 years there are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding the bombing of Pan Am 103 and the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.

    How did the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103 get into the baggage system and on to the aircraft? The prosecution conceded that it had been unable to prove how that happened. Air Malta were able to show that there was NO unaccompanied baggage on KM180.

    Why was Abu Talb granted immunity in return for his testimony? Under Scots Law only a person who is going to be charged as an accomplice can be granted immunity. Abu Talb was not going to be so charged.

    Why was Tony Gauci called as a witness for the prosecution when he was specifically unable to identify Megrahi either at the trial or in previous interviews? He did, in fact, identify Megrahi before the trial but only after having seen a picture in a magazine of him being handed over by Libya. Under oath he could only say that Megrahi ‘resembled’ someone who bought the clothing in which the bomb was said to have been wrapped. The description he gave initially was more like Abu Talb.

    In 2007 the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which is the statutory body which investigates POSSIBLE miscarriages of justice, when it completed its investigation into the case of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi found documents among several reasons to believe that a miscarriage of justice MAY have occurred.When it became clear that these might be used in any second appeal the British Home Secretary immediately issued a Public Interest Immunity Certificate to ensure that their content never became public knowledge or that they were never used in any appeal.

    Michael Follon (1a7c3e)


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