Lockerbie

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Lockerbie is a small town in the Dumfries and Galloway region of southern Scotland. It is an important centre of dairy farming. with one of the largest creameries in Scotland, and has a locally important railway station on the Carlisle-to-Glasgow section of the West Coast mainline.

Pan Am flight 103

In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was brought down over Lockerbie, Scotland, by a bomb planted by terrorists. The flight was en route from London to New York, and resulted in the deaths of 243 passengers, the majority of whom were American, 16 crew members, and 11 local residents.

An extraordinary sitting of the High Court of Justiciary, consisting of three judges sitting without the usual jury of 15 persons registered as electors in Scotland, convicted a Libyan government intelligence officer, 'Abd-el-Baset 'Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi of the crime. The verdict was very widely criticised by relatives of the British victims, relatives of some American victims and observers, including the official legal observer of the United Nations, because the judges acknowledged in their summing up that there was reasonable doubt about al-Megrahi's involvement in all aspects of the crime. As in the USA, Scots Law requires that criminal convictions must be beyond reasonable doubt. Indeed, it later emerged that a Maltese shopkeeper who provided the only remaining credible evidence against al-Megrahi had been paid a fee of US$2 million to give evidence against al-Megrahi, a breach of Scots Law which forbids conditional payments to witnesses. In short, it is widely suspected that the Clinton administration in the USA and the Blair government in the UK suborned witnesses and fabricated evidence in order to ensure a conviction.

In 2009, the decision was made to release al-Megrahi on "compassionate" grounds. This was required by Scots Law because he is terminally ill with prostate cancer, although he has survived much longer than expected, probably because of the high standard of medical care in Libya[1]. The investigation of the numerous irregularities in the evidence and the trial by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission was suspended as a result of al-Megrahi's release but will almost certainly be resumed if the new Libyan government returns him to custody in Scotland.

To summarise, while it remains possible that Libya was involved in the bombing, there is no evidence capable of convicting al-Megrahi of the crime beyond reasonable doubt - indeed, there is no actual evidence of his involvement at all.

References

  1. http://www.holyrood.com/index.php?option=com_holyrood&func=article&artid=2725&edition=217&brick=1
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