Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lockerbie: Protecting The Victim's Rights.

Following open letter to The Herald was published in accordance with Dr. Jim Swire:

In our democracy, there are two great protectors of the rights of the individual.
1.) the ability of our elected representatives to bring our concerns into the Court of Parliament.
2.) The Criminal Justice system.

1.) Parliament

It appears that MSPs are even now being told that they cannot ask questions about the appalling allegations of concealment and indeed deceit by the Crown Office, past and present.I quote from a recent comment to an MSP re the position at Holyrood re 'Rule 7.5.1:"Rule 7.5.1 of Standing Orders states; "A member may not in the proceedings of the Parliament refer to any matter in relation to which legal proceedings are active except to the extent permitted by the Presiding Officer" and Rule 7.5.2 states "For the purposes of paragraph 1, legal proceedings are active in relation to a matter if they are active for the purposes of section 2 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981".Under Rule 19B.1 of the Criminal Procedure Rules 1996, a referral by the Commission to the High Court is treated as an application for leave to appeal that has been made and granted.

The Contempt of Court Act states in Schedule 1, paragraph 15 that "Appellate proceedings are active from the time when they are commenced -(a) by an application for leave to appeal or apply for review, or by notice of such an application; (b) by notice of appeal or of application for review; (c) by other originating process."Therefore, as legal proceedings are active, under Rule 7.5.1 we are unable to admit questions on the case of Mr al-Megrahi.This looks like a gagging of our elected representatives in Parliament.

2.) Justice

Following Lockerbie, the US decided to issue a promise of major financial rewards to those providing information leading to the identification/arrest of the perpetrators. Amounts up to $4,000,000 were available. Posters similar to what one might see pinned on a tree in a cowboy film were printed and internationally distributed.This occurred long before the Zeist trial was agreed.

Surely the existence of this considerable programme to reward potential witnesses must be held to severely compromise the validity of evidence they eventually gave. It seems to me irrelevant as to whether - as now seems likely - Gauchi did receive perhaps $2,000,000 and live the high life in Australia as is now alleged. What matters is that it can be shown that there was widespread dissemination of the intention to reward, long before the witnesses gave their evidence.

Professor Koechler, appointed observer for the UN at Zeist, has just pointed out that the manufacturer of the timer allegedly used by the Lockerbie bomber, now claims that he was specifically offered 'up to $4,000,000' by the CIA if he would say in court that the famous 'timer fragment' had come from a timer that his firm had sold to the Libyans. At the very least the manufacturer, long before he gave his first tranche of 'evidence' would have had to be severely myopic not to be aware that large rewards were on offer.

Good intelligence services serve their country's perceived interests, not the truth; this combined with the reward offers seems to have been what crippled Scotland's brave attempt to hold a legitimate criminal trial in Zeist.

It may be part of our tragedy that the agreement to set up the Zeist trial came at a time when both Bill Clinton, and the late Robin cook were promoting the International Criminal Court, which America has since castrated.

It also came at a time when Nelson Mandela, speaking re Lockerbie in Edinburgh, said " No one country should be complainant, prosecutor and judge" It is hardly straining the truth to claim that at that time, concerning Lockerbie, the UK and US were indeed acting as 'one country'.I still have high hopes that Scotland will strain every sinew to try to extricate at least herself from the appalling ramifications of this terrible tragedy.

Dr Jim Swire.

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