Even the most vociferous critic might be left in some doubt about the conviction of Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, freed from a Scottish jail to die with his family in Libya, and suspect that the Libyan was the victim of the most dreadful miscarriage of justice.
The fact that the wrong man was in the dock was evident to those few independent observers who sat through the entire travesty of a trial in the Netherlands nearly 10 years ago. One of those was Dr Hans Kochler, appointed by the United Nations, who concluded: "There is not one single piece of material evidence linking [Megrahi] to the crime… the guilty verdict appears to be arbitrary, even irrational.”
Flawed and glaringly contradictory evidence
Kochler’s report was a damning indictment of the three Scottish trial judges who sat without a jury. The bulk of their judgment pointed to a not proven verdict – and then they convicted Megrahi anyway.
As Eye readers will know, there were alterations to crucial forensic exhibits supposedly linking Libya and Megrahi to the bomb, for which police and scientists could give no proper explanation; there was a succession of flawed and glaringly contradictory evidence from key witnesses, at least two of whom were paid by the CIA; there was evidence of the striking similarity to the modus operandi of a Syrian-backed Palestinian terrorist cell, operating out of Frankfurt, caught with devices equipped to bring down planes – one of which was missing. And then, of course, there was the crucial “identification” of Megrahi by Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper who sold the clothes identified as being packed in the suitcase with the bomb. In all his statements and evidence, Gauci only ever says that Megrahi bore a “resemblance” to the man who purchased the clothes – never that he was the man.
The judges performed a number of extraordinary leaps of logic to overcome these and all the other problems with the prosecution case, and it was evident to Dr Kochler even then that “foreign governments and secret governmental agencies”, directly or indirectly, influenced the trial.
More top stories in the latest issue:
Northern Ireland’s rules on political donation secrecy leave parties open to suspicions of seediness.
Minister’s claims that disability benefits cost £50bn a year are wildly exaggerated.
Green praise for Zac Goldsmith makes little sense as he only opposes Heathrow, not airport expansion in general.
SURELY SOAMES MISTAKE?
Serco’s hire of Rupert Soames gives the privatisation giant handy contacts in parliament.
RIGHTS ON THE RAILS
Amnesty International poster highlighting the Human Rights Act is banned from Network Rail stations under transport secretary Chris Grayling.
PLUS: Gavel Basher on the defeat (for now) of ruinous libel-action costs being imposed on newspapers that win in court.