Hans Köchler: I saw the trial – and the verdict made no sense

Share
Related Topics

I am always surprised when people refer to Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi as the Lockerbie bomber. Even if he is guilty – something which, personally, I do not believe – he would only be a Lockerbie bomber, just one of many people who carried out a crime which would have taken a large network of people and lots of money to carry out. It amazes me that the British and American governments act as if the investigation into the bombing is somehow complete.

But I welcome the release of Megrahi, because I firmly believe that he is innocent of the charges made against him. Believe me, if I thought he was guilty I would not be pleased to see him released from jail.

His decision to drop his appeal, however, is deeply suspicious – I believe Megrahi made that decision under duress. Under Scottish law he did not need to abandon his appeal in order to be released on compassionate grounds. So why did he do it? It makes no sense that he would suddenly let it go.

In my time as the UN's observer at Megrahi's trial, I watched a case unfold that was based on circumstantial evidence. The indictment against him and al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah went to great lengths to explain how they supposedly planted a bomb on Flight 103, and yet Fhimah was acquitted of all the charges against him. It made no sense that Megrahi was guilty when Fhimah was acquitted.

The prosecution produced key witnesses that lacked credibility or had incentives to bear false witness against Megrahi. Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper who supposedly sold him the clothes that went around the bomb, had been fêted by the Scottish police who took him fishing. The Americans paid him cash following his testimony. The weakness of that testimony would have been a key component of Megrahi's appeal.

We will probably never really know who caused the Lockerbie bombing. So much key information was withheld from the trial. A luggage storage room used by Pan Am at Heathrow was broken into on the night of the bombing, and yet this information was withheld. The British have yet satisfactorily to explain why.

I want to know when the bomb was placed on the plane and by whom. We have to look more closely into the "London theory" – that the bomb was placed on the plane at Heathrow and not in Malta.

It would be childish to be satisfied with the conviction of just one person for a crime that clearly involved a large number of people. I find it very difficult to understand why there seems to be so little pressure from the British and American public on their governments to investigate the bombing properly.

The UK regularly talks of the need to pursue all terrorist atrocities. Yet how can the Government assure the public they really believe that, when they have virtually abandoned their investigation into the worst terrorist attack in the country's history?

We have to know what happened and the only way is a full public inquiry, either mandated by the House of Commons or by an investigative commission voted for by the UN's General Assembly. Time is of the essence. This crime is already 21 years old. To find out the truth we must act now.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone