Salmond pledges ‘full co-operation’ with any UN Megrahi inquiry

48
1294


Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has promised to co-operate fully with any independent investigation into the Lockerbie tragedy.
 
The SNP leader gave the commitment following recent calls from the campaign group ‘Justice for Megrahi’ for the Scottish Government to establish their own inquiry into the Lockerbie case.


Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has promised to co-operate fully with any independent investigation into the Lockerbie tragedy.
 
The SNP leader gave the commitment following recent calls from the campaign group ‘Justice for Megrahi’ for the Scottish Government to establish their own inquiry into the Lockerbie case.

In a letter to the First Minister, the group urged him to consider a Scottish government led inquiry.  They have also petitioned the UN to hold a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Lockerbie case.  The campaign has attracted a number of high-profile backers including former journalist Kate Adie, writer and campaigner John Pilger, human rights commentator Professor Noam Chomsky and Dr Jim Swire whose daughter Flora died in the tragedy.

However a Scottish government spokesman explained that, whilst the Scottish government would welcome a UN inquiry, it did not have the powers to hold such a wide ranging inquiry itself and it would be inappropriate for the First Minister to formally endorse the campaign.  The spokesman further explained that the Scottish government did not doubt the safety of the conviction but acknowledged that there remained concerns over other issues.
 
The spokesman said: “On the broader questions of inquiry, the Scottish Government does not doubt the safety of the conviction of Megrahi. Nevertheless, there remain concerns over some on the wider issues of the Lockerbie atrocity.”

“The questions to be asked and answered in any such inquiry would be beyond the jurisdiction of Scots law and the remit of the Scottish Government, and such an inquiry would therefore need to be initiated by those with the required power and authority to deal with an issue, international in its nature.”

“As was indicated last year, the Scottish Government would be happy to co-operate fully with such an inquiry. It would obviously not be appropriate for any minister to become a member of such a campaign, given that ministers are required to look at things on a quasi-judicial basis.”

There have been many calls for a full independent inquiry into the atrocity and the subsequent investigation and trial.  Dr Jim Swire who lost his daughter on Pan Am 103 believes that Megrahi was wrongly convicted and the SNP’s Christine Grahame is another who doubts the court verdict.
 
Professor Bob Black, QC, who is a member of the Justice for Megrahi Committee, said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by Mr Salmond’s response.  Mr Black said that it would have been a “major step forward” for the campaign.

Miscarriage
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) had referred Mr Megrahi’s case to the appeal court after fresh evidence suggested that “a miscarriage of justice may have occurred”.  However this process was halted last year when Mr Megrahi dropped his appeal against the conviction.
 
It was reported this weekend that the SCCRC has uncovered new evidence that points to Megrahi’s innocence and strengthens the case against an Egyptian-born militant named Mohammed Abu Talb.
 
Talb was the original suspect; it was believed he had been funded by Iran to blow up Pan Am 103 in revenge for the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 on July 3, 1988 by the USS Vincennes.  The missile attack resulted in the death of 290 civilians, many of whom were on a religious pilgrimage.
 
Various Iranian officials and ambassadors accused the United States of a “barbaric massacre” and threatened a “rain of blood” in revenge.  Almost six months later Pan Am 103 was blown up over Lockerbie.
 
Abu Talb served as a prosecution witness at the Megrahi trial and was released from a Swedish prison last week after serving a sentence of 20 years for terrorism offences.

If you found this article interesting why not make a small contribution in order to help keep the site going – see the paypal button on the right.

newsnetscotland.com