Lockerbie: Libya deal could see new prosecutions

Frank Mulholland says his Libyan meetings were very positive. Picture: Justin Spittle
Frank Mulholland says his Libyan meetings were very positive. Picture: Justin Spittle
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A DEAL signed by the Lord Advocate during a two-day visit to Libya has raised hopes more people will face justice for the Lockerbie bombing.

Frank Mulholland QC, who returned from the talks on Tuesday, described the meetings as “extremely positive”.

He said a “memorandum of understanding” had been signed which will see Libyan investigators work with those from the UK and US.

The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over southern Scotland in 1988 killed 270 people and remains the worst criminal act ever committed in the UK.

Libya is the home country of the late Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the only person ever convicted of the atrocity, and the Crown Office believes Libya holds the key to uncovering who may have helped him.

Supporters of Megrahi, who are planning a new appeal against his conviction, believe the Crown Office is looking in the wrong place. However, they hope the investigations could help to clear his name.

Last month, The Scotsman revealed the Libyan attorney general had appointed two prosecutors to work on the Lockerbie investigation.

For the first time, they met Scottish and US investigators who are trying to establish whether there are other individuals in Libya who could be brought to trial for involvement in the attack.

Mr Mulholland said: “The meetings were extremely positive and there is a commitment on behalf of the Libyan authorities to work with both Scotland and the US to progress the investigation, within the parameters of the Libyan criminal procedure code, a mutual legal assistance treaty between the UK and Libya on criminal matters and a memorandum of understanding between the US and the Libyan ministry of justice.”

The Crown Office would not comment further on the memorandum of understanding or whether it would give them access to key individuals, such as Abdullah Senussi, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi’s brother-in-law and head of his intelligence services, and Megrahi’s immediate boss, who has been arrested and is currently held in Libya.

It is unclear how much evidence will have been retained following the uprising which led to the death of Gaddafi in October 2011.

Graeme Pearson MSP, a former detective, said: “I hope all concerned act in good faith in order that the families of those involved can have the peace of mind in knowing the full picture in regard to who was involved in this atrocity and why.

“Libya has come through some terrible times of late. It may therefore be difficult to obtain evidence that we can know is reliable and untainted.”

Robert Black QC, the architect of the Kamp van Zeist Lockerbie trial in the Netherlands, said: “I don’t think there’s any suggestion that, before the Gaddafi regime collapsed, they destroyed all of their records.”

Mr Black believes the investigations could help clear the name of Megrahi, who died from cancer in Libya last year, three years after being released from prison in Scotland on compassionate grounds.

Robert Forrester, secretary of the campaign group Justice for Megrahi, described the visit as a “complete waste of taxpayers’ money”.

He added: “It does seem the Crown is rather more interested in its own reputation than pursuing the interests of justice.”