November 24 2020 — A third appeal on behalf of the Libyan man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing has started at the High Court in Edinburgh. The appeal is being conducted via video link and is expected to last several days with a decision to be delivered at a later date. The first day was utterly boring. Nothing happened whatsoever. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
Lockerbie — Three Decades of Lies: J’Accuse…!
QUICK NOTES — To make it easier for the readers to retrieve various chapters of my book, I have created a special page “Lockerbie” where all the links to the chapters will be listed with a brief description. You can access that page directly as it appears at the far right of the top bar of this blog.
On March 11 2020, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission [SCCRC] decided to refer the Lockerbie case back to the High Court of Justiciary for determination. As a result of the Commission’s decision, Mr. Megrahi’s family was therefore entitled to instruct an appeal against his conviction. The first procedural hearing took place on Friday August 21 2020. The Appeal date is set to November 24 2020.
Lockerbie — Three Decades of Lies: J’Accuse…!
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The five judges are: Lord Carloway, Lady Dorian, Lord Menzies, Lord Glennie, and Lord Woolman.
The Advocates are: Gordon Jackson, QC, Claire Mitchell QC (Defence) and Ronny Clancy QC (Prosecution).
Proceedings due to begin at 10.30 am.
Mitchell QC —
Key evidence in the Crown case was a suitcase which contained the bomb also contained items of clothing that the crown argued were traceable to Malta and Mr al-Megrahi
There was no proper explanation ever given for how the suitcase got from Malta and got on board the Pan Am flight, which she describes as a “critical issue,” for the Crown case.
Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci, was described as “credible but not reliable.” The court took a “broad brush view of how the evidence was presented.”
Gauci also said that the person who bought the suitcase had also bought an umbrella as it was drizzling.
Evidence shows that there was no rain in the afternoon, the prosecution say the suitcase was purchased.
Gauci said the purchaser was Libyan. The original person he identified was Egyptian, not Libyan.
INTEL TODAY — NOTE 1 — Although Mitchell repeatedly refers to “the suitcase”, she seems to be referring to the clothes which were in the suitcase carrying the bomb. No-one has ever suggested that Megrahi actually purchased a suitcase from Gauci’s shop.
Court takes a break until 12 noon.
2pm — Proceedings resume with Caire Mitchell QC continuing her submissions on behalf of Mr el-Megrahi.
The original court cherry-picked from a mass of conflicting evidence to reach a conclusion that cannot be justified.
One issue being discussed is if this court can consider evidence that was ruled not admissible in the original trial.
Mitchell QC points out that two statements from Gauci are contradictory.
One says no Christmas decorations were up on that day. But according to the second, there were Christmas decorations. (“being started to be put up.”)
The defence suggests that this second statement relates to when the shopkeeper was being interviewed by the police, not when the suitcase was purchased. (See NOTE 1 above)
Court takes a short break. Back at 4pm.
Claire Mitchell QC is taking the judges through the weather conditions on Malta as it relates to the dispute over dates of when the suitcase in question was purchased. (See NOTE 1 above)
Mitchell reminds the court of the evidence of Major Joseph Mifsud, a meteorologist based in Malta, in which he testifies that weather records show no prolonged rain on the island on 7 December 1988, the date, she claims, the Crown said the suitcase was purchased.
Intel Today — Again, Mitchell QC is clearly wrong. The Crown has never alleged that the primary suitcase was purchased at Gauci’s shop!
In his evidence, Mifsud said that he was 90% sure there was no rain at all and a 10% possibility of “some drops of rain,” at the time the suitcase was allegedly purchased.
Defence counsel suggests that Gauci evidence is “confused and contradictory.”
Court rises, proceedings to resume at 10.45 tomorrow.
Intel Today Analysis
Mitchell QC ended Day 1 by suggesting that Gauci evidence is “confused and contradictory.”
But in truth, she has so far only demonstrated that she is the one very confused about Gauci’s evidence. Not a great start…
Once again, I find the defense’s strategy totally misguided as well as vague and downright inaccurate as the example of the suitcase demonstrates. (See NOTE 1)
The testimony of Gauci is a major part of the appeal. (Non disclosure of information regarding a picture of Megrahi seen by Gauci, Unreasonable verdict and Reward)
As far as the law is concerned, the Reward money may, or may not be, an issue. (I do not think so.) However, as far as the TRUTH is concerned, I am quite sure that Gauci did not lie for the money.
None of the experts I talked to ever suggested this possibility. They all believe that Gauci’s memory was ‘contaminated’ by the investigators.
Their conclusions are unanimous. Gauci’s early statements are the most credible.
In his first statements, Gauci made it clear that Megrahi is not the buyer of the clothes.
On Feb. 15, 1991, Gauci was shown some photographs and failed to identify Megrahi. When asked to concentrate on his picture – a leading procedure to say the least — Gauci correctly pointed out that the man on the picture was in his 30s while maintaining that the man who had bought the clothing items was very much older.
Previously, on Sept. 13, 1989, during a photofit session, Gauci stated that the buyer was about 50 years old. Born on April 1, 1952, Megrahi was 36 in late 1988. The next day, Gauci again told Detective Chief Inspector Bell that Megrahi was too young to be the man who bought the clothing.
“If the man in the photograph was older by about 20 years, he would look like the man who bought the clothing,” Gauci told DCI Bell.
In his first interview held on Sept. 1, 1989, Gauci told DCI Bell that the mysterious buyer was 6 feet tall or more. Megrahi is 5 feet 8, a significant discrepancy considering that it comes from a man who sells clothes for a living.
The trial judges were well aware of this striking discrepancy but they failed to provide any explanation as to how it was resolved. [Intel Today]
And most importantly, Gauci also made it very clear that he did NOT sell a SLALOM shirt to that man.
During his first interview with DCI Bell, Tony Gauci made a list of the items he had sold to the mysterious buyer. The list matched exactly the items that forensic experts at RARDE believed to have been in direct contact with the bomb, except for a black umbrella that they eventually “identify”. On that day – Sept. 1, 1989 — Gauci made no mention of the Slalom shirts.
On Jan. 30, 1990, Gauci was shown a SLALOM shirt and was asked if he had sold one to the mysterious buyer. “That man did not buy any shirt, I am sure,” Gauci stated to the investigators.
Then, on Sept. 10, 1990, Gauci suddenly recalled selling two Slalom shirts. It is not just odd, but contradicts a statement Gauci made on his first interview and repeated at the trial.
During his first interview, Gauci told DCI Bell that he remembered that the bill amounted to 76.5 Maltese pounds (LM). Gauci even clearly remembered that the man paid him with eight 10 LM bills, and that he returned 4 LM as he was not able to give a half pound in change.
Quite logically, DCI Bell then asked him to check the price of all the items he had just mentioned. And, lo and behold, the sum added to 76.5 LM… without any Slalom shirt. Had Gauci sold two shirts to the mysterious buyer, the bill would have been 84.5 LM.
Obviously, if the SLALOM shirt is a fabrication, so must be the items discovered inside it, including the infamous fragment of the MST-13 timer solely supplied to Libya…[Intel Today]
And yet, Claire Mitchell QC appears to believe that Gauci did sell a SLALOM shirt to the mysterious buyer when the evidence clearly indicates that this shirt is a fabrication.
Why does it matter? — The Lockerbie Case begins and ends with PT/35(b) because — iF genuine — it links unambiguously Lockerbie to Libya.
There is clear evidence that this fragment is a forgery. However, this fragment is NOT part of the appeal because Aamer Anwar incorrectly submitted that this evidence was discovered AFTER the trial when, in truth, this evidence was available to the defense all along.
Thus, the only hope at this point is to establish that the SLALOM shirt from which PT/35(b) was extracted, was planted among the evidence.
About the date and the weather — The statements by Mitchell seem unprecise and she obviously repeats the evidence led by Major Joseph Mifsud despite the existence of far more relevant evidence easily available.
Regarding the day of the purchase, Tony Gauci remembered that his brother Paul had gone home earlier to watch an evening football game (Rome vs. Dresden), that the man came just before closing time, around 7 p.m., and that there was some very light raining. (The man returned to the shop to buy an umbrella.) The game allows for only two dates: Nov. 23 or Dec. 7, 1988.
The game Rome-Dresden on Dec. 7 was played at 1 p.m., not in the evening. As a result, Paul Gauci thought that the purchases had occurred on Nov. 23, 1988.
And there is more. It did not rain on Sliema on Dec. 7, 1988. Mark Vella, the managing director of METEO-MALTA, told the author that their records – including satellite pictures — unambiguously indicate that it did not rain on Sliema on Dec. 7. On the other hand, Vella could confirm that it was dripping during the evening of Nov. 23, 1988. (NB. Official copies of their records are available.)
When asked to try to assess the most likely day of the purchase by DCI Bell, Tony Gauci stated: “I’ve been asked to again try and pinpoint the day and date that I sold the man the clothing. I can only say it was a weekday. There were no Christmas decorations up, as I have already said, and I believe it was at the end of November.” [Intel Today]
During a three years long investigation, the SCCRC has established that the Christmas lights are put up in Sliema on December 6, ruling out December 7 as the date of the purchase.
Press release issued today by Aamer Anwar & Co
It has been a long journey in the pursuit for truth and justice. When Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie nearly 32 years ago, killing 270 people from 21 countries, it remains the worst terrorist atrocity ever committed in the UK.
Since then the case of Abdelbasset Al-Megrahi the only man ever convicted of the crime has been described as the worst miscarriage of justice in British legal history.
The finger of blame has long been pointed in the direction of Iran for having ordered a Syrian-Palestinian group to carry out a revenge attack for the downing of an Iranian Airbus by the U.S. six months earlier which killed all 290 on board.
The reputation of the Scottish criminal justice system has suffered internationally because of widespread doubts about the conviction of Mr Al-Megrahi.
It is in the interests of justice that these doubts can be addressed, however he was convicted in a Scottish court of law and that is the only appropriate place for his guilt or innocence to be determined.
An overturning of the verdict for the Megrahi family and many of the families of British victims also supporting the appeal, would vindicate their belief that the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom stand accused of having lived a monumental lie for 31 years, imprisoning a man they knew to be innocent and punishing the Libyan people for a crime which they did not commit.
We are now in possession of much evidence that we have not revealed publicly as it is not appropriate to do so at this stage.
However, at the conclusion of this appeal we intend to disclose significant material about the role of individuals, nations and their politicians, because there can never be a time limit on justice or the truth emerging.
This process began for my legal team in 2014 when I first met with Dr Jim Swire and the Rev. John Mosey who lost their daughters Flora and Helga that night in Lockerbie. I pay tribute to their perseverance, compassion and courage.
Flora Swire one day before her 24th birthday, was brutally murdered along with 269 others in the Lockerbie attack. I spoke to Jim last night, he said he still aches for his daughter Flora, what might have been, the grandchildren she would have had, the love she always gave her family and the glowing medical career.
It has always been and remains his intent to see those responsible for her death brought to justice.
I also spoke yesterday to Ali the son of Al-Megrahi and he told me he was 8 years old when his father went to the Netherlands to stand trial. When his father returned to Libya to die, Ali spent most of his time next to his father and he says that until his dying breath he maintained his innocence. The Megrahi’s regard their father as the 271st victim of Lockerbie.
For my team it has been six long years but for the families we represent, finally there is hope that we are coming to the end of a very long journey, in nearly 32 years of their struggle for truth and justice.”
Amer Anwar — the lawyer for Megrahi’s family — is repeating all the old mistakes that brought us this spectacular miscarriage of justice, including a grandiose press release, that is riddled with nonsensical, erroneous, illogical, and counter-productive statements.
At I wrote before, I expect that the judges will unanimously uphold the guilty verdict. In the end, this appeal will do more harm than good.
Reaction from the US
Mark Zaid lost no time to react to that statement.
Absolutely disgusting to see anyone touting convicted mass-murderer Al Megrahi as “271st victim of #Lockerbie.”
I helped file 1st lawsuit against #Libya for #PanAm103 bombing in 1993.
How convenient to claim they have evidence but won’t reveal.
Just for once, Zaid is not entirely wrong. As my wonderful Jewish Hungarian professors used to say: “Even a blind chicken manages to find something to eat.”
Megrahi is NOT the “271st victim of #Lockerbie.” Megrahi is a true modern hero who sacrificed his life for his country.
And by the way, do not expect Anwar to reveal any evidence against Iran. There is NONE because neither Libya nor Iran was involved in that tragedy.
Court reporter James Doleman — Tweeter
Lockerbie Third Appeal — Day 1 (November 24 2020)