BBC casts doubt of Pan AM convictions
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BBC casts doubt of Pan AM convictions

February 5, 2001

NEWSFLASH: BBC CASTS CONSIDERABLE SKEPTICISM ABOUT PAN AM 103/LOCKERBIE CONVICTIONS

In advance of whatever the Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is going to produce as "evidence" of innocence today, the BBC has published the following story quoting the very Scottish law professor who arranged the trial in The Netherlands casting great doubt about the veracity of the verdict reached: "Robert Black, the Scottish law professor who devised the format of the Netherlands-based trial, was quoted on Sunday as saying he was 'absolutely astounded' that Al Megrahi had been found guilty. Mr Black said he believed the prosecution had "a very, very weak circumstantial case" and he was reluctant to believe that Scottish judges would "convict anyone, even a Libyan" on such evidence." Over the weekend MER published commentary by American journalist William Blum casting similar skepticism and providing considerable background.

GADDAFI TO GIVE LOCKERBIE "EVIDENCE"

[BBC News - 5 February] : Libya came to standstill in anticipation of Gaddafi's statement Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is due to reveal fresh evidence on Monday, which he says will clear the Libyan agent convicted last week of the Lockerbie bombing.

Colonel Gaddafi says the evidence will prove that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi is innocent of the 1988 bombing in which 270 people died.

Libya's defence of Al Megrahi - a former Libyan intelligence agent who received a life sentence for the bombing of the Pan-Am aircraft over Lockerbie - received a boost after a Scottish legal expert said the verdict was obtained on "very, very weak" evidence.

A Libyan official said the opinion showed that the case was a "racist pretext" to prolong nine years of sanctions against the country.

The three Scottish judges who heard the case found Al Megrahi's alleged accomplice, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, not guilty.

Colonel Gaddafi said last week that the judges had three options - to acquit Al Megrahi, resign or commit suicide.

Libyans flocked to public meetings on Monday in anticipation of Colonel Gaddafi's statement, leaving the country at an almost complete standstill.

The announcement coincides with Libya holding three days of meetings known as basic people's congresses.

Correspondents say two possible scenarios are being discussed in Tripoli:

Colonel Gaddafi could produce evidence that Washington put pressure on the Scottish judges to convict Al Megrahi

Or he could produce evidence that another non-Libyan perpetrator carried out the bombing.

However, there is scepticism outside the country that hard evidence will emerge at this late stage.

'Astounded'

Robert Black, the Scottish law professor who devised the format of the Netherlands-based trial, was quoted on Sunday as saying he was "absolutely astounded" that Al Megrahi had been found guilty.

Mr Black said he believed the prosecution had "a very, very weak circumstantial case" and he was reluctant to believe that Scottish judges would "convict anyone, even a Libyan" on such evidence.

The view, published in British newspapers, echoes that of some of the families of UK victims of the Lockerbie bombing, who are calling for a public inquiry to find "the truth of who was responsible and what the motive was".

Protests

Wednesday's verdict sparked angry protests in Libya on Saturday, as Washington and London demanded the Libyan Government accept responsibility for the atrocity and pay compensation to the victims' families.

The protesters condemned what they called a "CIA-dictated" verdict and demanded compensation for the victims of the 1986 US air raids on Tripoli and Benghazi.

Al Megrahi's 15-year old son, Khaled, took part in a demonstration on Saturday, holding a placard reading: "My father is innocent."

The opposing camps - Washington and London on the one hand and Libya and its supporters on the other - have become increasing polarised since the Lockerbie verdict was issued.

London and Washington are demanding that Libya accept responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and pay compensation to the families of the victims before sanctions can be lifted.

On Behalf of the relatives of the Lockerbie victims, Washington wants Libya to pay $740m (500m) in compensation, or about $3m (2m) for each victim.

Libyan newspapers

A BBC correspondent in Tripoli, Frank Gardner, says Libya is on tenterhooks, waiting to learn what the new evidence Colonel Gaddafi has promised to reveal could be.

The Libya press has continued to attack last week's verdict. The Libyan daily, Al Fatah, accuses the judges of yielding to political pressure from the United States. It says the judges were stricken with political Alzheimer's Disease.

In another paper, the Green March, the editorial referred to what it called Britain's history of imperialism, aggression and human suffering.

The paper accused British newspapers of carrying out an organised campaign to harm Libya.

It blamed what it called disturbed writers without loyalty to Britain, who were influenced, it says, by Zionist circles.

But in a note of conciliation, the Libyan editorial added that Anglo-Libyan relations were recovering. It said it felt sincerely that the British government was keen to reinforce those relations.


February 2001


Magazine



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(February 25, 2001)
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BBC casts doubt of Pan AM convictions
(February 5, 2001)
In advance of whatever the Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is going to produce as "evidence" of innocence today, the BBC has published the following story quoting the very Scottish law professor who arranged the trial in The Netherlands casting great doubt about the veracity of the verdict reached:

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The Pan Am 103 Verdict
(February 3, 2001)
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