Many still question Megrahi conviction in bombing of Pan Am 103

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Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basil Ali al-Megrahi was convicted on Jan. 31, 2001 of destroying Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on Dec. 21, 1988, killing the plane’s 259 passengers, including 179 Americans, and 11 people on the ground. Megrahi was tried under Scottish law by Scottish judges in a special court sitting at Camp Zeist, a former American military base in The Netherlands.

As readers of the Washington Report are aware, the American media coverage of the Lockerbie trial was very thin, despite the heavy loss of American lives. There seems to be a determined silence about even the existence of an organization called "Justice for Megrahi," whose members include (full disclosure) this writer and several distinguished Britons, including Dr. Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the crash, and Dr. Robert Black, former professor of criminal law at Edinburgh University and creator of the idea of trying Megrahi and his co-defendant, Lamen Fhimah, in The Netherlands under Scottish law.

The revolution in Libya, and particularly the defection to Britain of former Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, has stirred some peripheral interest in Lockerbie. Before he became foreign minister, Koussa was head of Libyan intelligence, and close to Muammar al-Qaddafi. He would know what was in Qaddafi’s mind when he agreed to turn over Megrahi and Fhimah for trial. Was it because the Libyan leader thought the two men were guilty, or because he knew he was obliged to do so to gain sufficient Western approval for the development of his country, including increased oil production?

The April 9 Washington Post ran an article saying that Scottish officials had "met" with Koussa, who they think may have crucial information about Lockerbie. According to the article, "Prosecutors said that they would offer no additional details of their conversations with Koussa." Just what did Koussa tell them, and why is no more information about the meeting forthcoming?

So far as this writer has seen, no American newspaper has mentioned that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission ruled that Megrahi may have suffered a miscarriage of justice–”a finding that presumably remains valid despite Megrahi’s release from prison on compassionate grounds. Yet, the Washington Post article writes that "the case remains open despite Megreahi’s conviction."

The heavy lethargy of the American media on Lockerbie includes no word that many outstanding Britons who lost relatives or friends in the Lockerbie crash do not believe that Megrahi is guilty. If members of "Justice for Megrahi," who obviously think he is not guilty, could possibly arrange a discussion with Moussa, it could clear up a lot of questions. Depending on Koussa’s answers, it could reopen the question of who really bombed Pan Am 103.

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