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Sunday requested 11-1300 word article
Dr Jim Swire for Alan Crow
There is no torture as exquisite, nor knife so
sharp as the brutal murder of an innocent child. Our 23 year old daughter Flora
and 269 others were murdered at Lockerbie on
Our country owed us an explanation of why the plane was not protected despite the timely warnings. We were also entitled to expect that a relentless search for the killers would be pursued, and that when identified, no effort would be spared to bring them to justice. To renege on these duties would be to demean the memory of those who died.
For two years the investigation pointed to
Expert German forensic evidence showed that the PFLP-GC had developed
bombs which, if placed in an aircraft would inevitably explode around 40
minutes after take off, no matter how long they had hung around at ground
level. The CIA had found that Iranian money had flowed into the PFLP-GC’s Swiss
accounts after Lockerbie. The PFLP-GC’s leader, Ahmed Jibril,
boasted ‘they’ll never find out how I did it’,
Many of us felt that despite the sheer evil of the deed, justice , not revenge, should be sought. The old story of a terrorist attack followed by military retaliation was a well worn path to more deaths and more hatred. We were determined that this should not be followed in the name of those who had died.
Then in 1991, amid the gathering storm clouds around the first
Gulf war, and desperation over US hostages held by Iranian backed groups, the
UK Foreign Secretary told us that the investigation now pointed towards
But an official of President Bush (Snr’s)
investigation into Lockerbie had quietly confided to us in 1990 when we went to
the US Embassy in
By late 1991 indictments were issued against the two Libyans. It was claimed that they had put a bomb aboard in Malta and that it had been transferred between planes, unaccompanied, at Frankfurt and Heathrow airports, and then exploded 38 minutes after take off from Heathrow, over Lockerbie.
Professor Robert Black of Edinburgh, emeritus professor of Scots
law, proposed a neutral country trial under Scots law. Most of us were opposed
Shortly after the indictments had been issued, I went to beg Colonel Gaddafi to allow his citizens to be handed over for trial. Twice more the professor and I returned to meet the Colonel.
In 1998, thanks to the intervention of many, including Nelson Mandela, the Saudis, and the then UK Foreign Secretary the late Robin Cook, President Clinton agreed to the trial. So then did the Libyans.
When I entered the specially created court at
Listening to all the proceedings, I was soon to remember the wise
words of Nelson Mandela spoken in
Within days of the trial starting, my confidence that I was
watching the trial of guilty men began to ebb. There was no proof that they had
penetrated security at
Worst of all the prosecution case depended absolutely on Megrahi having used a digital timer which he could have set to explode any time up to 99 hours after planting it. Yet the fragment of circuit board ‘found’ at Lockerbie, was the only ‘objective’ evidence of such a timer and was in the only police evidence bag to have had its label mysteriously altered. It had only been included in the British forensic report as an afterthought, requiring the renumbering (by hand) of subsequent pages to accommodate it. The forensic ‘experts’ had not even tested the fragment for explosive residues. Later I was to hear how the senior UK forensic scientist responsible had been found by an inquiry to have introduced false evidence in the case of the Maguire 7, in 1976, while his co-‘expert’ was described as unfit to present himself as an expert in electronics in 2005, following another terrorist case. Yet there was no other evidence than this one fragment to support the use of a digital timer.
And how very strange that a digitally timed bomb from
By the end of the main trial at
Fortunately the decision whether or not to review the case again
still rests with the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission. I believe now
Mr Megrahi needs to go home to his family for whom he pines. His has been a terrible ordeal and he is desperate to clear his name.
We still need and deserve the truth including to know who among those who should have supported us has instead deceived us. A way must now be found to prevent such deception, as well as healing the wounds of terrorism.
Dr Jim Swire (firstname.lastname@example.org)