I have previously mentioned the release from a Scottish jail of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi. Mr al-Megrahi was convicted for causing the Lockerbie bombing. In my previous post I mentioned how the relatives of the British victims are much more open to the idea that Mr al-Megrahi was framed, while relatives of the American victims seem to be uniformly outraged at his release. I suggested this might be because of a series of high-profile miscarriages of justice, in which convictions for terrorist and other crimes were quashed, often after those falsely convicted had served many years in jail.
The solicitor Gareth Peirce played a major role in overturning those Britiish miscarriages of justice. Now she has written on the al-Megrahi case in the London Review of Books. She asserts that his conviction is a stitch-up and a travesty of due process. Forensic and eye-witness evidence were used to convict al-Megrahi. Peirce suggests these are both deeply flawed. The forensic evidence was largely prepared by the same dodgy scientists who produced the flawed evidence used in earlier miscarriages of justice. The eye-witness, meanwhile, initially failed to pick out al-Megrahi in an identity parade, but subsequently was miraculously able to do so and now is living in suddenly acquired affluence.
Peirce also points out that in the early stages of the Lockerbie investigation, the finger of suspicion was pointing at Iran. The Iranian regime had a motive – a US warship had just shot down an Iranian airliner, and then, grotesquely, the crew of that ship had been honoured by President Reagan. As the US regime started to engage with the Iranians to buy out its hostages in Lebanon, it became inconvenient to blame Iran for Lockerbie. Someone had to pick up the tab, with Peirce arguing that that someone ended up being Libya and Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.
It is unfortunate that al-Megrahi was required to drop his appeal when he was released on compassionate grounds, as it would surely be better for everyone if these allegations could be addressed in an open court.
See also: 'Flaws' in key Lockerbie evidence (BBC)