The effects of the explosion of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988 reverberated across Scotland and the world and many hoped that when Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was found guilty of the atrocity in 2001 that healing could start, comforted by the fact that Scotland’s justice system had served the 270 victims and their families well.
Unfortunately, as the 25th anniversary of the tragedy approaches, your latest revelations (15 November) only serve to highlight just what a miscarriage of injustice this was.
I follow the logic that “the explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct”. It is not the complex legal, political and forensic “facts” about the case that convince but the “simple” ones.
At the Camp Zeist trial the “star” prosecution witness, Tony Gauci, identified Megrahi as the person who had purchased clothes in his shop in Malta which were identified as having been packed in the suitcase containing the bomb which destroyed the aircraft.
To this end over many years Mr Gauci was interviewed more than 50 times and produced over 20 different statements before he arrived at his eventual “identification” for the court.
Conclusive documentary and witness evidence now proves that since 1989 Mr Gauci had regularly expressed an interest in monetary reward for giving evidence at the trial and that eventually he was paid $2 million with the full knowledge of the UK and Scottish authorities.
Forget the complexities. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who can, from these simple facts, come to any conclusion other than Mr Gauci’s evidence is so seriously compromised as to be worthless and that, as a result, a critical plank of the prosecution case is left without a shred of credibility.
Logic would also appear to dictate that our Scottish Government seeks an immediate inquiry into why prevarication and procrastination have become the default position of the authorities for nearly 25 years.
Iain AJ McKie
South Beach Road
In the context of the Lockerbie trial, a Maltese newspaper has published extracts of police documents that said Mr Gauci had “a clear desire to gain financial benefit” from his evidence.
Documents released since the trial have repeatedly suggested the Gaucis expressed an interest in being paid for their testimony under the Reward for Justice programme controlled by the Department of Justice in the US.
A senior investigator in the inquiry has conceded that the brothers would have known about possible payments, but that nothing was offered before the trial and it had “never been discussed with them at any time prior to the trial – so it’s absolutely above board. There is no suggestion that there was anything underhand. It was all above board.”
After the trial, the senior investigator wrote to the US Department of Justice to recommend the pair receive a reward because he said the Gaucis fitted the criteria.
Last month the Crown Office stated: “No witness was offered any inducement by the Crown or the Scottish police before and during the trial and there is no evidence that any other law enforcement agency offered such an inducement.”
Arguably, no direct “inducement” was required. The Gaucis would have known they “fitted the criteria” for the reward. They had, before the trial, in the context of the justice programme, imbued their “evidence” with a monetary value.
The entire proceedings were scented with the aroma of reward – and it is arguable that the aroma scented the quality of the evidence provided by the brothers. Any jurisdiction with a reputation for the pursuit of justice would be concerned with the implications of such an aroma.
In this jurisdiction, the integrity of the proceedings reign supreme – irrespective of the objective material that points to the possibility of a colossal miscarriage of justice.