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Tags Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi , Lockerbie bombing , Scotland cases

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Old 5th June 2014, 11:46 AM   #1
Rolfe
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Fresh appeal applied for in the Lockerbie case

It’s official, and I’m allowed to talk about it now. This morning the application for a new appeal against the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing was submitted to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission at the commission’s Glasgow headquarters. The signatories to the application are 20-odd close relatives of the victims of the Pan Am 103 crash, and six of Megrahi’s close family.

http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.co.uk/...join-with.html

There’s a long way to go, though. First the SCCRC have to establish that it’s even appropriate for them to look at the material, considering the time that has elapsed and that a previous appeal was abandoned by the appellant. Then they have to decide whether the material submitted to them (and anything else they may find out for themselves) shows a reasonable probability that there might have been a miscarriage of justice. If it gets that far the appeal judges themselves are allowed to disagree with the SCCRC about the appropriateness of the referral, and throw it straight out without hearing the case. Only if they accept that the referral was appropriate does it actually get into court.

After that, the court hearing itself should be the easy bit!

If it doesn’t get to court because the Scottish authorities decide they don’t want to rock the boat, this has interesting ramifications. First, it goes against the public stance of the Scottish government, who have said that they would welcome a new appeal as the only way to resolve this long-standing and contentious issue. And second, it would open the way for an appeal outside Scotland under European human rights legislation.

Main grounds of appeal are fourfold.
  1. That Megrahi was not the man who bought the clothes packed in the bomb suitcase. (This was the central plank of the appeal that was abandoned.)
  2. That the bomb suitcase was not introduced into the baggage system at Malta airport (where Megrahi was that morning) but at Heathrow airport, London (where he most definitely wasn’t).
  3. That the fragment of printed circuit board (PT/35b) alleged to have come from one of a small batch of electronic timer units made especially for the Libyan military was not from a PCB made by the manufacturer of the Libyan timers.
  4. That many pieces of evidence which could have been very helpful to the accused were not disclosed to the defence. This includes the “secret intelligence document” David Miliband slapped a Public Interest Immunity certificate on in 2008, and documents concerning the metallurgical analysis of the PCB fragment which would have allowed the defence experts to realise it wasn’t from one of the Libyan instruments at the time of the original trial.
This appeal goes further than the previous one, in that it includes clear grounds which demonstrate Megrahi to be factually innocent, rather than merely being concerned with demonstrating that the case against him was implausible and laden with reasonable doubt. If it is proved that the bomb was in a suitcase seen at Heathrow airport by three different people well before the connecting flight it supposedly travelled on from Malta landed, this damns the original police inquiry as having been catastrophically off the rails from the very earliest weeks of the investigation.

It also damns the entire international brouhaha that has happened since, from the pressure on Libya to admit guilt, through the farcical trial at Camp Zeist, the conviction of an innocent man, the extortion of billions of dollars in compensation from Libya, the shenanigans surrounding the deal in the desert and the compassionate release, to the use of Lockerbie as part of the justification for intervening in the Libyan civil war to overthrow Gaddafi.

There are some words to describe this debacle, but the auto-censor would get the lot.

Rolfe.
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Old 5th June 2014, 11:55 AM   #2
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And next we can appeal James Earl Ray's sentence, in light of new "evidence".
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Old 5th June 2014, 11:58 AM   #3
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For convenience, here are links to some of the principal media coverage today. It seems that almost every media outlet is running the story.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-27698626
http://www.itv.com/news/update/2014-...ie-conviction/
http://news.sky.com/story/1276156/ne...appeal-planned
http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/h...ame.1401960445
http://www.scotsman.com/news/politic...turn-1-3435011
http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...eal-conviction
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-his-name.html

Rolfe.
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Old 5th June 2014, 11:16 PM   #4
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I just wonder what happens if the appeal is successful? Who actually did the bombing?
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Old 6th June 2014, 12:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
I just wonder what happens if the appeal is successful? Who actually did the bombing?
Thankfully, I have an alibi.
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Old 6th June 2014, 03:28 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
I just wonder what happens if the appeal is successful? Who actually did the bombing?

I think we probably know the answer to that. The group who were the main suspects from 1988 to 1990. The problem was that the police investigation was looking in the wrong place, at the wrong modus operandi. If you're looking for the right people in the wrong place, you aren't going to find them.

The investigation more or less ran into the sand in 1990, but rather than re-group and examine whether they should be looking at a different modus operandi, they went on digging in the same place but looking for different suspects. It all gets a bit murky about that point to be honest, and I don't think we'll find out exactly what went on until the conviction is quashed.

However, it's now clear that Heathrow airport was the scene of the crime, and that Heathrow airport was never properly investigated in that context during the original inquiry. Given the strength of the circumstantial evidence pointing to the original suspects, Occam's Razor suggests that an investigation into Heathrow would find the elusive evidence of that gang being active there on the day of the disaster.

It's been a long time, and more time will pass before the Scottish authorities will give up on their Libya fantasy. It may be too late to bring the real perpetrators to justice. On the other hand there have been cases in the past where the wrong person was convicted, subsequently freed, and the real culprit then caught and convicted many years later. The murder of Lesley Moleseed is an obvious example, where there was a 30-year gap. So I don't entirely rule it out.

Rolfe.
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Old 6th June 2014, 04:57 AM   #7
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Sounds like a local case. David Eastman was convicted of killing a top cop (Colin Winchester) about 19 years ago. Now the forensic evidence used to convict him has been shown to be seriously faulty. The cops became convinced of his guilt early on in the investigation and did not investigate all possibilities. And David sacked several lawyers so he did not have the best possible defence. Now the courts have to decide on what to do.

Here is a link.
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law...-1226937952520

Another famous case in Australia is that Linda Chamberlain got convicted of murdering her baby. Again faulty forensics was used to convict her. Turns out it was a dingo that killed the baby, who has never been found.
Link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_o...ia_Chamberlain


My point is that for one reason or another innocent people get convicted of very serious crimes partly because of faulty (even by the standards of the day) detective work. This sort of thing should never happen but it does. Millions of dollars wasted.
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Old 6th June 2014, 05:18 AM   #8
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There are numerous case in which the detective set on a person , because of some behavior they think the perp did it, and they never set for an alternative, heck some prosecutor do the same, still accusing exonerated convict of having raped/murdered despite the DNA evidence absolving the person. There are enough news article about exonerated persons where the reaction of the prosecutor and cops is dismay and disagreement.
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Old 6th June 2014, 05:28 AM   #9
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Oddly enough, though, that's not what happened here. The cops were certain they knew who had done it at a very early stage, and they were almost certainly right.

The belief that Megrahi had done it was a late development, over two years after the disaster.

Rolfe.
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Old 6th June 2014, 07:51 AM   #10
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I don't envy the original police investigators, having to process this case given the enormous almost unimaginable political pressure for a quick resolution.

It looks like Rolfe has done some very good work here. Congratulations!
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Old 6th June 2014, 08:05 AM   #11
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For those of us who haven't been following the case closely over the years, who were the original suspects?
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Old 6th June 2014, 08:31 AM   #12
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A group of Palestinian terrorists called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command. They had the expertise in making bombs to bring down airliners in flight - they'd done it before. Their leader was one Ahmed Jibril. The organisation worked in cells and it was a cell in Neuss, near Dusseldorf, that was implicated in this. Key members were Hakez Dalkamoni, Marwan Khreesat (the bomb maker) and a rather shadowy semi-detached figure known as Abu Elias.

It appears that the near-dormant cell was revived in October 1988, when several members congregated in Neuss and Khreesat started buying interesting bits of electronics. The German police were on to them though, and they were apprehended with a booby-trapped radio in the back of their car - about 17 members were arrested altogether. However, all but two were released almost immediately and the others not long afterwards. It's quite a long story and is told very well in a book called The Fall of Pan Am 103 by Emerson and Duffy, written at the time when these guys were still the prime and only suspects.

The theory, which has a fair bit of intelligence evidence to support it, is that this group was re-formed as a result of Jibril accepting a commission from the Ayatollah Khomeini to bring down one or more (in some accounts five) US airliners in revenge for the shooting down of IR655 in July 1988 by the USS Vincennes. So they weren't in this case working for "the cause" but merely as mercenaries. 10 million is said to have been the price, and bank transfer records are said to support this.

There is a huge amount of information about all this and I'm really just skimming here. I don't have any smoking gun to prove it was that group, but the probability is extremely high. If it wasn't them, we have to postulate two unconnected groups separately working to bring down a US airliner, at the same time, and we only know about the group that wasn't successful.

Rolfe.
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Old 6th June 2014, 08:42 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by newyorkguy View Post
I don't envy the original police investigators, having to process this case given the enormous almost unimaginable political pressure for a quick resolution.

It looks like Rolfe has done some very good work here. Congratulations!

Thanks for the kind words. You might also credit a number of other JREF members with special mention to Caustic Logic for worrying away at it for a long time and LittleSwan for appearing out of the blue and putting the last and most important piece in place.

I take your point about the original investigation, but from where I'm sitting it wasn't like that. They had all the evidence they needed to show that the bomb had originated at Heathrow, in January 1989. A month after the crash. However, it appears they simply blanked it and went running off to Frankfurt and then Malta instead. Why did they do that? It was an easy solve, and they totally missed it. Indeed, there are places where they seem to be deliberately turning away.

I really want to know what was going on in these guy's heads. A clue that was positively a gift from heaven was handed to them on 3rd and 9th January (a baggage handler actually saw the bomb suitcase in situ and was able to describe it), and they simply didn't follow it up. Instead they insisted the bomb was on the connecting flight that didn't arrive for another hour after the time the baggage handler saw the suitcase.

Why? It looks awfully like political pressure from somewhere not to have Heathrow found to be the scene of the crime. A possible speedy solve was sacrificed to that objective.

Rolfe.
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Old 6th June 2014, 12:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
....and LittleSwan for appearing out of the blue and putting the last and most important piece in place.
Thank you... but the only thing I did was looking at some stupid photographs. You and CausticLogic deserve most of the credits.

Last edited by LittleSwan; 6th June 2014 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 6th June 2014, 03:09 PM   #15
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I think there was some high-level brainwave synchronisation going on at the very end. I honestly didn't realise the suitcase jigsaw was there and was soluble. You did. You nagged me to get copies of those photos. You spotted that the Schauble case was important.

You also realised what the seven orphan fragments were. I kept arguing with you and not entirely following what you were saying, but you were absolutely right.

On the other hand, I take the credit for spotting the Carlsson case and PK/139. I'm coming round to the idea that PK/139 may be the most important piece of evidence found as regards solving the positioning question. And then Buncrana (whom I should also have mentioned above, what was I thinking of) started it by pointing out that the damage to the McKee case was illustrated in the SCCRC report.

I knew before all that that the bomb suitcase had to have been the one Bedford saw, as a logical necessity. Without the suitcase jigsaw, I don't think anyone would have followed the argument. The pictures are compelling.

How are you getting on with the Indian Head material?

Rolfe.
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Old 7th June 2014, 02:05 PM   #16
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Solving puzzles is my daily job.

Quote:
How are you getting on with the Indian Head material?
Yes, I promised you something...

Well, some facts about the Indian Head tests.

1. The results are poorly documented.
2. There is no sign at all of an scientific approach. Every test was carried out with different amounts of Semtex at different positions. It's very difficult if not impossible to figure out what those positions were.
3. They screwed up test #4, the only test in which the bomb suitcase was laying on the floor.
4. According to mr. Bell the results of test #5 came closest to replicating the actual damage, but in test#5 there is no fragmentation of the horizontal strut. So what is meant by "closest"? Does it mean "very close" or "still not so close".
5. Test #7 is interesting in that they simulated a row of suitcases in the back of the container. Comparing the results of this test with the actual damage to the suitcases and container floor shows what the position of the bomb was, t.i. not in the position of test #7.

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Old 7th June 2014, 03:44 PM   #17
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Solving puzzles is my daily job too! Just puzzles made of flesh and bone (or molecules, depending on which hat I'm wearing), rather than inanimate objects. I think that's why we've both ended up here.

There have been times in the past year I have been absolutely dying to discuss aspects of this case with you, but I know you've been so busy and there are things that shouldn't be discussed on an open forum anyway. If you're less busy at the moment, you could send me an email.

Your assessment of the tests is very much what I had concluded for myself, although I was working from second-hand reports, not having the time to analyse these results in detail. On first principles, surely it's obvious you can tell nothing for certain if every test is different, and especially if you change more than one variable every time.

Did they only account for the row at the back in one test? To me that is such a key point, and in the end the thing that really convinced me there could not possibly have been some mysterious undocumented vanishing suitcase under the bomb suitcase. Do tell me more about that one!

Feraday's apparent favouring of his "first postulated position" with the bomb suitcase handle-up in the overhang is also weird. It's not just the position where the handle was found that rules that out (he didn't seem to realise that until Peter Fraser told him at the FAI, or to take it on board when he was told), it's the pattern of damage to the airframe itself. I don't know how Indian Head covered that aspect.

I don't suppose anyone even thought of the position where the left-hand side of the bomb suitcase was elevated into the bottom of the angle of the overhang section? The position it was actually in? That does have the interesting attribute of not having the bomb suitcase "in contact with the floor of the container" as Feraday claimed it hadn't been, at least in the sense he probably meant, which was flat against it.

Of course none of that was presented in court. The fact that the tests had been done was mentioned in passing, as if to imply that they weren't actually pulling all this stuff out of their backsides, but no detail was given even of what the tests had been, never mind the results or what could reasonably be concluded from them.

I'm really quite interested in the way so many of the forensics guys were prepared to say they were sure there was another suitcase under the bomb suitcase, 100% absolutely, and that includes two or three of the AAIB guys as well as RARDE personnel. What were AAIB inspectors doing making that judgement anyway - that wasn't their area. It all sounds suspiciously co-ordinated. Feraday even asked for the transcript of the Fatal Accident Inquiry to be changed to say this wasn't a probability, he was "adamant" about it.

The degree of incompetence blows my mind every time I think about it.

Rolfe.
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Old 10th June 2014, 02:03 AM   #18
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Quote:
Did they only account for the row at the back in one test? To me that is such a key point, and in the end the thing that really convinced me there could not possibly have been some mysterious undocumented vanishing suitcase under the bomb suitcase. Do tell me more about that one!
Just look at the results of test #7. All you need is common sense. They used 570 gram Semtex H, suitcase on the second layer, 5 suitcases on the backrow (numbered 1,2,3,4and 5), IED facing the back row of suitcases, IED just above the horizontal strut overhanging the suitcase on the floor of the container. They didn't use a real 747 cargo floor. The container was resting on a sheet of plywood

Results:
1)Major damage to suitcase #1 (the "Carlson" case), although not so severe as the damage to the real Carlson case, some damage to suitcase #2 (the "McKee" case), although much higher than the damage to the real McKee case, virtual no damage to suitcases #3, 4 and 5).
2)No fragmentation of the horizontal strut, despite a 570 gram charge.

Conclusion: the lockerbie bomb was not in the same position.
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Old 10th June 2014, 08:35 AM   #19
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Got it. (I'm afraid I sent you the files on these tests and left you to it. I was already aware of the conclusions, and just went with the summing-up.)

So, they were aware that these upright suitcases on the back row existed. I never even knew that for sure before. And they took them into account in a single test. Interesting.

They put five cases along the back. That's how many we think there were, too. That is seven cases in all, in the Heathrow-loaded part. But only six legitimate cases were routed into that container at Heathrow. So already there is tacit acknowledgement of a seventh undocumented case being present in that group. (I don't think you can fill the back row with only four cases.)

They recorded the damage to cases 1 and 2. That's only useful if you have the actual cases in the 1 and 2 positions to compare it to. Which they had. However, did they know they had them? The information was readily available, but I have seen no evidence they were aware of this.

Case 1 had to be Carlsson's, inevitably, because of his arrival time. Case 2 had to be one of McKee's or Gannon's, again because of the arrival time. Since the Gannon case and the McKee Tourister were only lightly damaged, it had to be the McKee Samsonite. This is not rocket surgery.

I see no evidence they were aware of this, or ever compared the results of test 7 to the actual cases in these positions.

Not only that, Feraday in his report continually referred to the handle-up-in-the-overhang position as his favoured position for the bomb suitcase. That doesn't seem to be the game they were playing at that stage though. Weird, because Feraday's report post-dates these tests.

In October 1990 Peter Fraser pointed out to Feraday that the recovery of the bomb suitcase lock inside "a case that was in contact with the floor of the container" disproved his handle-up theory. (Actually, by definition that would have to be the case in position 3.) Feraday played dumb and said he "was not party to" the arrangement of the cases in the container. Which is a bit of a facer in itself. I mean, why not? He said that would of course put a different complexion on the matter. But then there's no sign of him ever looking into that, and the final (1991) version of his report is unchanged as regards the wording favouring the handle-up position.

Constantly, I get the impression of a serious lack of analytical skills in the team tasked with looking into this. I can't believe anyone could be so stupid, but at the same time the whole thing has an absence of guile that suggests these people would have had trouble tying their own shoelaces, never mind figuring out where the bomb suitcase was located.

Rolfe.
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Old 10th June 2014, 03:13 PM   #20
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Ah, you've been all hiding in here!

First, this is excellent news of the application for a fresh appeal. The inclusion, at no small risk to themselves given the ongoing conflict in Libya, of the Megrahi family is a huge boost to any prospect this applications success.

I'd very much hope the SCCRC can also arrive at a decision in a relatively short timeframe. The bulk of the spade work has been done, and although there is a number of new matters to consider, really no more than 12 months should be ample. I think the really tricky bit comes even if the application is supported by the SCCRC. Then, despite the body tasked with the very institutional function to oversee potential MOJ's occurring, those faced with perhaps undermining fellow judges, can simply deny the case heard, in the interests of "finality". Politician-speak if ever there was.

Still, with the continuation of PE1370, that no small matter is still lurking with intent.

As it so happens I came across this gem of a photo of test #7:

http://archives.syr.edu/panam/images...se_12-1480.jpg


A number of very interesting point to note here I think. The small bags stuffed in an unusual place, assisting the IED bag's position, the rotation of the suitcase, and the Hardshell on the bottom layer. Not something like miss Coyle's.

More photos here: http://archives.syr.edu/panam/other_...o_marquise.htm
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Old 10th June 2014, 04:29 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
As it so happens I came across this gem of a photo of test #7:

http://archives.syr.edu/panam/images...se_12-1480.jpg

A number of very interesting point to note here I think. The small bags stuffed in an unusual place, assisting the IED bag's position, the rotation of the suitcase, and the Hardshell on the bottom layer. Not something like miss Coyle's.

More photos here: http://archives.syr.edu/panam/other_...o_marquise.htm



There, you see, I keep saying that you make five times the amount of progress with this when several people are working at it together.

That's not how they loaded the cases. Didn't they listen to the baggage handlers? And look how thin that bottom case is. But still LittleSwan says the result wasn't compatible with the actual damage.

Rolfe.
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Old 11th June 2014, 04:32 AM   #22
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Everybody can see it isn't compatible. This is Mickey-Mouse-science not theoretical physics.

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Old 12th June 2014, 02:13 PM   #23
Soapy Sam
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Rolfe.
Just a reminder.
Unencrypted Email is little more secure than an open forum. It's the plain postcard of cyberspace.
If you and others are going to discuss data which may be pertinent to a reactivated appeal you might be wise to use PGP or similar in private communications. The data itself may not be sensitive, but gods know what lawyers can make of speculation appearing on the internet, especially by someone who might be considered a specialist "witness".
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Old 26th January 2015, 05:02 PM   #24
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Bump.

Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
As reported on the BBC




Fingers crossed this time around the families get their wish and a full appeal goes ahead.
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Old 26th January 2015, 05:13 PM   #25
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There have been a couple of recent developments in this case which I think justify bumping this thread.

First, Frank Mulholland (the current Lord Advocate) went to America for the 26th anniversary of the disaster and used the opportunity to get into the papers. (This happened just before Christmas, obviously, which is never a very good time to discuss anything seriously.) He got his usual journalistic contact Magnus Linklater to report on this in the Times (paywalled), but Robert Black's blog has it in clear.

Quote:
A review of the Lockerbie bombing case by Scottish investigators has concluded that there is “not a shred of evidence” to support claims that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was wrongly convicted.

Not only have investigators confirmed beyond doubt that the Libyan was the man responsible for the deaths of 270 people on December 21, 1988, they believe his fellow accused, Lamin Fhimah, who was acquitted, was almost certainly involved as well.

The findings will come as a blow to those, such as Jim Swire, whose daughter was one of those killed, and Robert Black, QC, who maintain that prosecutors advanced a flawed case and that judges presided over a miscarriage of justice.

And so on. This is entirely disingenuous, and it's not the first time the Mulholland/Linklater combination has indulged in this game. There has been no review that has confirmed beyond doubt that Megrahi was guilty. Reading between the lines, it looks as if Mulholland has instigated some sort of review of the provenance of the disputed item of evidence, the timer fragment PT/35b, and that has concluded that it wasn't tampered with or planted in the chain of evidence after it was recovered from the field at Blinkbonny on 13th January 1989.

That may well be the case, but it's so far from the point as to be in a different space-time continuum. The current series of allegations and applications don't allege that item was tampered with, merely that it wasn't what the investigators alleged that it was. That appears to be incontrovertible. In my opinion, Mulholland is trying desperately to distract from the real problems he has with the case which are quite separate matters and things he doesn't seem to want to talk about. (I love James Robertson's description of Mulholland's reasoning as "rather reminiscent of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet going round a tree in the snow and nearly catching a Woozle.")

The relevant subcommittee of Justice for Megrahi is in correspondence with the police about this issue, because it appears that the Lord Advocate has tried once again to undermine the investigation they are condicting into the nine allegations of criminality against people involved in the original investigation and the subsequent legal action.

Mulholland's outburst prompted a deluge of letters and articles all over the place, and probably the most comprehensive demolition was provided by John Ashton. A fairly comprehensive overview of most of the responses can be found on Robert Black's blog starting from 21st December 2014.
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Old 26th January 2015, 05:32 PM   #26
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The second development seems to have coincidentally hit the news on 23rd December.

The application to the SCCRC for a third appeal, as detailed in the OP of this thread, was submitted jointly in the names of 25 relatives of victims of the disaster, and six members of Megrahi's immediate family including his next of kin and executor Khaled El Megrahi. (Also, I believe, Megrahi's widow Aisha and his eldest child, Khaled's elder sister Ghadia.) Signatures of the Libyan applicants were obtained, and the lawyer for the joint group Aamer Anwar says he considers himself to be instructed by both groups.

However, although the victims' relatives have always been led to believe they were entitled to apply for a new appeal as "interested parties" (and indeed Frank Mulholland has on several occasions appeared to goad them to do it), it seems that the legal position is that only the executor of a deceased convicted person has the absolute right to do this. The right of others is subject to the court being persuaded that they are legitimate "interested parties".

It seems that the SCCRC has been asking for further proof that the Megrahi family are really behind the application, over and above what they have been given already. Specifically, they want some original documents proving that Khaled is indeed his father's executor. These have proved impossible to obtain, given the lawless and dangerous situation now extant in Lbya. The SCCRC therefore decided to apply to the court to ask for confirmation that the victims' relatives alone would be considered sufficient to support the appeal application.

This could be a good thing if the answer is yes. It will give additional comfort and security to the people making the application, given the difficulty of people stuck in Libya doing anything constructive in the wider world. On the other hand it would be a very bad thing if the answer was no.

On about 12th January Khaled El Megrahi joined the Justice for Megrahi Facebook page, in an attempt to make his support for the application more public. (Other relatives were already members.) Why do I get the impression that the SCCRC will decide that Facebook doesn't count?

There was a High Court hearing in chambers before Lady Dorrian on 23rd January, at which she decided that there should be a full court hearing of the matter. The date has been set for 27th March. I know that Aamer Anwar and the rest of the team are hoping that they can get sufficient documentation from Libya in the mean time to render the hearing redundant (the legal term appears to be "otiose", where do they get these words from) but in the mean time I suppose that means that the SCCRC won't be moving forward with their work on the application.

We never thought this was going to be easy though. We'll see who rusts first.

ETA: Bob Black gave an extended interview about all this to Independence Live last Thursday.

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE

Well worth a listen if you can spare the time. I'm on myself later in the week, date still be be confirmed.
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Old 26th January 2015, 05:46 PM   #27
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I should maybe respond to Soapy Sam's post which was the last one on the thread for a while. This case has been discussed up hill and down dale in this forum over the past five years. A bit more isn't going to make any difference. Indeed, the sort of factual discussion that's happening in this thread is a lot less problematical than some of the wild speculation I (and others) indulged in before we had the evidence we now have.

I really don't see that a sensible and fact-based discussion here is going to present a problem at this stage. Bob Black has screeds of it all over his blog, and he prepared the original SCCRC submission papers!
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Old 26th January 2015, 06:22 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
It seems that the SCCRC has been asking for further proof that the Megrahi family are really behind the application, over and above what they have been given already. Specifically, they want some original documents proving that Khaled is indeed his father's executor. These have proved impossible to obtain, given the lawless and dangerous situation now extant in Lbya.
I can understand the SCCRC wanting to make sure that the case this time around is watertight and that some eagle eyed lawyer can't torpedo the thing on some legal technicality, like the first appeal. If that were to happen again then we are all likely to be dead before the truth comes out. If it ever does.

Is this SOP for a case whereby you need certain official docs to proceed, but those are unavailable because of war or whatever, the whole thing is put before a judge to rule on whether they do have authority?

and meanwhile:

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
First, Frank Mulholland (the current Lord Advocate) went to America for the 26th anniversary of the disaster and used the opportunity to get into the papers. [...] entirely disingenuous, and it's not the first time the Mulholland/Linklater combination has indulged in this game.
Quelle Surprise, as they say in France.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Quote:
Reading between the lines, it looks as if Mulholland has instigated some sort of review of the provenance of the disputed item of evidence, the timer fragment PT/35b, and that has concluded that it wasn't tampered with or planted in the chain of evidence.
Provenance is only one of a laundry list of questions I still have about that fragment of timer, and in any case even if it was a genuine find, and it is in fact a fragment of the timer used in the bomb that brought down the plane, that doesn't preclude the bomb being introduced at Heathrow.


A couple of years back I recall reading that Mulholland was talking with the FBI and vowing to track down the other perpetrators.

It still perplexes me that anyone can read the Lockerbie evidence, the court transcripts, the SCCRC review report, and still be convinced that Megrahi is guilty as charged.
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Old 26th January 2015, 07:19 PM   #29
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I would like to put in a plug for Rolfe's excellent book:

http://www.amazon.com/Adequately-Exp...d+by+stupidity

I finally understand the details of the case and the problems with the investigation, which are obvious, egregious and cannot be waved away as a "conspiracy theory."
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Old 27th January 2015, 02:41 AM   #30
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Re-subscribing to thread.
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Old 27th January 2015, 03:08 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
I can understand the SCCRC wanting to make sure that the case this time around is watertight and that some eagle eyed lawyer can't torpedo the thing on some legal technicality, like the first appeal. If that were to happen again then we are all likely to be dead before the truth comes out. If it ever does.

Yes, that's my understanding of the situation. I understand the SCCRC are acting in genuine good faith but are anxious to make sure their work can't be torpedoed by a hostile Crown Office. (Interesting that they seem to perceive the Crown Office as implacably hostile.) I believe they realise there are huge problems with the conviction, and of course even though these aren't the same actual people as referred the case back to the appeal court in 2007, they know perfectly well that their colleagues who were running the SCCRC at that time did make a referral on six grounds.

Clearly they don't want to put in a heap of work, only to be told that the referral isn't competent because the deceased convicted person's executor isn't actively involved in the application. If Lady Dorrian says it's OK to go forward with an appeal by relatives of the victims then that will be great, the only concern is she might rule the other way.

Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
Is this SOP for a case whereby you need certain official docs to proceed, but those are unavailable because of war or whatever, the whole thing is put before a judge to rule on whether they do have authority?

It's not at all certain that these documents are necessary. This is the SCCRC being ultra-cautious. In fact it has always been assumed, even before Megrahi died, even before the revolution made Libya a no-go zone, that after his death the relatives of the victims would be free to apply for another appeal without needing anyone else supporting it.

Whenever the case has got into the press, it's been a standard tactic for Mulholland to declare that the press is not the place to discuss the matter and the only place it can be decided is a court of law. (He said that even if he was the one who had brought the matter into the press, as he did on 20th December!) He would then explicitly challenge the victims' relatives to bring it on, if you're hard enough! Once, he even challenged Justice for Megrahi to apply for another appeal, which got some people a bit excited, but of course Justice for Megrahi have all the locus of interfering busybodies in this case.

The constant line has been that the Crown Office will welcome the chance to prove they are right, by defending another appeal. Never was it suggested that Khaled El Megrahi was the only person who could make such an appeal. Of course, that doesn't mean they aren't trying to put every possible spanner in the works, so we can't assume anything.
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Old 27th January 2015, 03:41 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
Provenance is only one of a laundry list of questions I still have about that fragment of timer, and in any case even if it was a genuine find, and it is in fact a fragment of the timer used in the bomb that brought down the plane, that doesn't preclude the bomb being introduced at Heathrow.

I've indulged in quite a few rants here and there about this fixation on the timer fragment. I think Mulholland is latching on to it as a type of straw man, actually.

There has been an enormous amount written about the thing, including by me I have to confess, and a lot of people are convinced it's a plant. I also think it could well be a plant but I acknowledge we can't prove that it is. With this in mind, the current appeal application so far as I know has not made any specific claims that it was planted, and I do know that the JFM allegations of criminality don't allege or rely on any allegation that it was planted.

Jim Swire is still banging on to the press about the thing being planted, but this is his own little hobby-horse. I think it's providing Mulholland with a cheap target. If the fragment really was on Thomas Hayes's lab bench on 12th May 1989, then it's virtually certain it was in the scrap of shirt collar that was logged into HOLMES on 17th January. There's a reasonable case to be made that it was on Hayes's lab bench on 12th May.

So, what Mulholland is saying is that if it was planted, it would have to have been planted before 13th January, the day the collar is recorded as being picked up from the field. I don't entirely agree, I think there's a cracker of an opportunity for it to have been planted on 15th January at Dextar. But that doesn't negate his point, which is that that's way too early for anyone who didn't know that the plane was going to crash to have formulated a cunning plan and fabricated that item. And I agree with him.

So, it would be extraordinarily interesting to know whether that fragment (presumably the entire scrap of collar plus contents) fell out of the sky or not. Either answer would be extraordinarily interesting, and I just wish we knew. But as you say, in another sense it doesn't matter a damn to the main thrust of the case.

Mulholland is trying to create the impression that if the timer fragment wasn't fabricated, then there is no merit at all to the doubts about Megrahi's guilt. He's really not that stupid, but it's a line he's using to keep the press on side. It gives them an easily-written story.

In reality, whether it was planted or not, the crime was committed at Heathrow in the afternoon, at a time when Megrahi was in Tripoli and can be proved to have been in Tripoli. That's called "having an unbreakable alibi". That's the part Mulholland won't touch with a barge pole.

I've practically called him out in the BTL comments on Bob Black's blog, which I imagine he has minions reading for him. Tell me how I'm wrong. Explain the flaw in my reasoning, to show how you still cling to the contention that the bomb came off the Frankfurt flight. Crickets and tumbleweed. Nearly two years since the evidence was provided to the authorities, and the point has never been addressed head on.

Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
A couple of years back I recall reading that Mulholland was talking with the FBI and vowing to track down the other perpetrators.

It still perplexes me that anyone can read the Lockerbie evidence, the court transcripts, the SCCRC review report, and still be convinced that Megrahi is guilty as charged.

His back-stop press release, if he can't find anything else when he needs some positive publicity, is to declare that someone has agreed to help track down Megrahi's accomplices. On the 25th anniversary of the disaster it was a Libyan prosecutor in that role. That's my taxes he's wasting.

It's a slam-dunk that there's an enormous pile of extremely reasonable doubt over Megrahi's guilt, even before you get to the proof of factual innocence that's been discovered relatively recently. But then we're not lawyers.

Interacting with woos and real conspiracy theorists should teach us that there's virtually no limit to the human race's ability to hold a false belief when it suits them to do so. When you consider the domestic and international hoo-ha that would result from official acknowledgement that Megrahi was innocent, and worse still that the investigation was looking at the wrong modus operandi from about day 9, you can kind of see why they do it.
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Old 27th January 2015, 04:55 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Charlie Wilkes View Post
I would like to put in a plug for Rolfe's excellent book:

http://www.amazon.com/Adequately-Exp...d+by+stupidity

I finally understand the details of the case and the problems with the investigation, which are obvious, egregious and cannot be waved away as a "conspiracy theory."
I will read it, therefore, as a full blooded scot, and someone who is pleased to really understand, belatedly, that truth lies beyond the edicts of courts. This of course is occasional, but at the margins, momentously important, amen.

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Old 27th January 2015, 10:15 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Octavo View Post
Re-subscribing to thread.
Me too
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Old 27th January 2015, 10:51 AM   #35
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I have to confess I'm quite shocked at how matter-of-factly the legal types involved with this accept that the Crown Office is going to strain every sinew to block this appeal. Despite shouting "bring it on, we're ready for you!" in public at every available opportunity. I think as a scientist I'm hard-wired to want the truth to come out and damn the consequences, but the Crown Office obviously doesn't think that way.

In that Independence Live interview, Bob Black said that the thing that concerned him most was that, as a Scottish citizen, he has to live under the jurisdiction of this shower of chancers. And he's a professor of Law. He said he always assumed that the Crown Office and the prosecution played fair and disclosed all relevant evidence. That was a lot of the reason he advised Megrahi to give himself up for trial in the first place. Now he has seen what they actually did to disadvantage the defence, the scales have fallen from his eyes as it were. (He has also said in the past that he now worries about some judgements he gave himself, because he judged on the assumption that the Crown were acting disinterestedly as they're supposed to.)

The feeling is that so long as nobody makes any terrible mistakes, the only way they have to block the appeal will be to declare that it is in the public interest for the case not to be re-opened, as "certainty and finality" trump getting to the actual truth. Which in itself is fairly shocking, but a recent change of law made that route easier to take.

This seems to be a lawyers-only problem though, because the police I spoke to about it said they couldn't imagine how anyone could believe that "certainty and finality" had been achieved and in their opinion it was absolutely in the public interest to hear the case again.

The trouble is, the Crown Office know they are staring defeat in the face if it goes to court, and they're hoping that bluster, denial and procrastination will get them out of it.
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Old 27th January 2015, 11:55 AM   #36
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I have never been a publicly employed prosecutor so I don't understand the mindset. The closest I can get in imagining what it is like in those cases in which negligence is alleged against me or my firm. In such cases, I will strain quite a bit to defend my/our position partly because it's horrible slipping up and partly because the insurers like it that way, insurance now being a large slice of an English law firm's overhead. There is also reputational damage and bad will to consider. These are all adequate reasons for me to have seen some pretty impressive denial in the face of the inevitable when I have been on the claimant's side.

I wonder what, besides simply being wrong on a matter of such gravity, other pressures there might be on the Crown Office lawyers? Maybe (probably) there is political fallout to consider affecting various bods. There is also probably plenty of room for one's own confirmation bias to glaze over the cracks in the case. All in all, I don't find their stance so difficult to understand.

You scientists have it easy. You know nature will just show you when you are wrong and that keeps you honest.
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Old 27th January 2015, 04:51 PM   #37
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This is an interesting article about the politics surrounding Megrahi's release.

Quote:
The files proved that far from being against the release of Megrahi as they had claimed, the Labour government had fully supported the decision to free the Libyan.

Britain feared “harsh and immediate” consequences, according to the leaked cables, if Megrahi were to die in a Scottish prison.

“The Libyans have told HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] flat out that there will be ‘enormous repercussions’ for the UK-Libya bilateral relationship if Megrahi’s early release is not handled properly.”

Labour politicians had claimed publicly that the decision to release Megrahi was an embarrassment to Scotland – but the documents showed the Labour leadership were in fact favouring his release.

The cables showed that the UK government was aware of dire repercussions should Megrahi die in a Scottish prison.

I remember trying to point all that out in the forum at the time, but it wasn't a position that received popular support, shall we say.
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Old 28th January 2015, 06:19 AM   #38
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There's a political point to this I find quite satisfying, or I will when it all happens I suppose. Assuming it does happen.

The 2007 appeal was pretty much all about the clothes purchase. That was obviously an extremely weak link in the prosecution case. Indeed, if Megrahi had been the man who bought these clothes from Tony Gauci, I think most of us would have been pretty content to agree that he was mixed up in it somehow even if he didn't actually plant the bomb. However the evidence relied on to prove that he had bought the clothes, quite apart from being circular reasoning, was incredibly weak. The weight of the evidence as a whole was actually in the other direction - that the clothes were bought by someone who didn't even look like Megrahi, on a day when Megrahi wasn't even there.

The appeal court was hearing that evidence when that appeal was abandoned, apparently as part of a deal to allow Megrahi to return to Libya under the compassionate release provisions. There is a high degree of suspicion that Megrahi was pressurised to drop the appeal, possibly directly by the Libyan envoys, and also possibly indirectly by the Scottish justice secretary. Dropping the appeal was not however necessary for compassionate release to be granted.

So what would have happened if the appeal had been allowed to go ahead, as a lot of people were lobbying for at the time? I think it's inevitable that the court would have ruled that Megrahi could not be held to have bought the clothes. So where would the loss of that point have left the case against him?

It would have left him merely present (as a passenger catching an outgoing flight) at the airport where the bomb was believed to have been smuggled on to the plane. There was no evidence at all to show that he did anything untoward while he was there. He didn't have an airside pass and he would have stuck out like a sore thumb if he had gone airside. He was convicted because as the person who bought the clothes and was therefore involved in the plot, his presence at the airport was held to be for the purpose of getting the bomb on the plane.

So it would appear that the appeal would have been upheld. Simply being at the airport at the right time isn't enough to convict anyone, on its own. The other main point of evidence, that he had had dealings some years previously with the manufacturer of the timing device which supposedly set the bomb off couldn't have been enough.

I think that's what the Crown Office expected to happen, when the appeal was first allowed, back before Megrahi was diagnosed with prostate cancer. There's some general mood music suggesting they were preparing a position. The position was going to be, well it's a real shame that Gauci's evidence wasn't considered definite enough to satisfy the appeal court. Of course a long time had passed and this makes it more difficult to sustain an eyewitness identification. But our real criticism is against the US Department of Justice, who gave the man all that money. This tainted his evidence and gave the appeal court little choice but to acquit.

The line was going to be that Megrahi had been acquitted on a technicality. Of course they would have to stop calling him the Lockerbie Bomber, but the not-so-subtle subtext was going to be that he was guilty all along, after all he was at the airport when the crime was committed, and if not him then who? There would also have been some hints that he probably did buy the clothes and the main reason the identification evidence had to be rejected was the 3 million bribe that was handed to the witness.

Nothing in such a judgement would have stopped them from carrying right on maintaining that they had been right all along and it was just unfortunate that the case stumbled at the appeal stage because, well, technicalities. In particular, nothing would have called into question the basic conclusions of the original investigation as regards how the crime was committed. The 2007 SCCRC report actually said in clear that it hadn't even tried to overturn the theory that the crime happened at Malta, because that had already been looked at in the first appeal and second time round it didn't receive any serious arguments to suggest anything different.

But despite having that escape route planned, when the opportunity arose they jumped at the chance of getting the appeal abandoned altogether. They could still go on calling Megrahi the Lockerbie Bomber. Was that a wise move, in the long run?

In the five years plus since the second appeal was abandoned, evidence has come to light that the bomb wasn't introduced at Malta that morning at all. There's a very good explanation for why everything at Malta looks exactly as it would have looked if nothing had been smuggled on to that plane. Because nothing was.

That evidence forms part of the third appeal application. It's going to kill their little ploy stone dead. Megrahi can't be represented as having got off on a technicality, or the original investigation as being basically on the money. Megrahi has a cast-iron alibi for the crime, and the original investigation wasn't so much off the rails as never on the rails to start with. They're looking at an acquittal on the grounds of provable factual innocence.

I wonder if they wish now they'd done something different, in 2009? It's no surprise that they're busting a gut trying to kick it all into the long grass in 2015.
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Old 28th January 2015, 06:31 AM   #39
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Rolfe

Two things:

1 have you ever seen the Court of Appeal twisting itself like a pretzel to pretend truly lousy ID evidence is actually perfectly fine? If not then I need to introduce you to the first appeal judgments in the cases of Barry George and Sam Hallam (or indeed the first instance judgment of Nordheimer in Nyki Kish's case and the appeal judgment too). It is a revolting sight.

2 when someone the cops think is guilty walks free on appeal, the usual code is for the cops to say they 'aren't looking for anyone else'.
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Old 28th January 2015, 06:45 AM   #40
Rolfe
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1. I know exactly what you mean. In fact, just like the original trial court in this case twisted itself like a pretzel to pretend that the truly risible ID evidence was perfectly fine. (Or not. The written judgement accepted that the identification was "not absolute", but then just decided to go with it anyway.)

That's why the appeal grounds didn't major on that, but on the date of the purchase of the clothes. The SCCRC reported that "there was no reasonable basis for the trial court's finding that the date of the purchase was 7th December". Since that one point was the hook the entire daisy-chain of circular reasoning was hung on, that was a damning criticism.

The new evidence that was brought to the second appeal was evidence that confirmed the (already highly probable) conclusion that the date of the purchase was 23rd November. The criticism of the actual eyewitness evidence was secondary to that.

2. The only reason I didn't use that phrase was that in this case the Crown Office ostentatiously are looking for someone else. Megrahi's imaginary accomplices, who actually did the non-existent deed he was convicted of being an accessory to.
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