February 6, 2001
The Wisdom Fund

Pan Am 103: Lockerbie Verdict 'Astonishing'

by Enver Masud

WASHINGTON, DC -- Professor Robert Black, a former judge and Scotland's leading expert on criminal procedure and evidence, described the January 31 decision by three Scottish judges to convict Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi as "astonishing."

Mr. Megrahi, alleged Libyan secret serviceman, was found guilty of the murder of 270 people when Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. Co-defendant Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah was found not guilty of the murder.

Prof. Black, who devised the format of the Netherlands-based trial, conducted under Scottish law at Camp Zeist, points to the Opinion of the Court, paragraph 89: "We are aware that in relation to certain aspects of the case there are a number of uncertainties and qualifications. We are also aware that there is a danger that by selecting parts of the evidence which seem to fit together and ignoring parts which might not fit, it is possible to read into a mass of conflicting evidence a pattern or conclusion which is not really justified."

In Prof. Black's view the Crown case has failed to comply with strict Scottish legal rules that evidence be corroborated. He adds, "for reasons that were never satisfactorily explained," a fragment of an electronic circuit board "was not dealt with by the investigators and forensic scientists in the same way as other pieces." This fragment of a timer is an important link to Libya in the evidence.

Other evidence questioned by Prof. Black relates to clothing purchased by Mr. Megrahi in Malta, and computer printouts linking Mr. Megrahi to a piece of unaccompanied baggage on Flight KM 180 from Malta to Frankfurt on 21 December 1988 which was then carried on to Heathrow.

"The best we learn of events in Libya," writes veteran journalist Robert Fisk ("Libya: what's the bloody motive?," Independent, February 4, 2001), "is from a CIA-paid 'witness' who is totally discredited by the judgment."

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has condemned the verdict in the Lockerbie bombing trial as an "injustice". Mr. Megrahi is expected to appeal. The appeal court is expected to be chaired by Lord Cullen, Scotland's second most senior judge.

["Today's criminal justice system is addicted to informants. Some have made headlines lately, such as Michael Fitzpatrick, the longtime informant at the heart of the alleged plot by Malcolm X's daughter to assassinate Louis Farrakhan, and Emad Salem, the main witness in the terrorist conspiracy trial in New York, who prosecutors say was paid more than $1 million for his help....

A nine-month investigation by the National Law Journal has found that abuses by informants and law enforcement threaten the rights and the safety of innocent people, as well as the integrity of the courts."-- Michael Curriden, "The Informant Trap," National Law Journal, March 20, 1995]

[One month before a court order was served on him by the US government gagging him from speaking on the grounds of national security, he spoke to US congressional aide Susan Lindauer, telling her he knew the identities of the Lockerbie bombers and claiming they were not Libyan.--"Lockerbie: CIA witness gagged by US government," Sunday Herald, May 28, 2000]

["The United Nations has savaged the Crown Office's handling of the Lockerbie trial claiming the outcome was rigged through the unfair suppression of evidence; it was politically influenced by the USA; and the court had no grounds to return a guilty verdict."--"UN Claims Lockerbie Trial Rigged," Sunday Herald, April 8, 2001]

["The fact of the matter is that this is a financial deal for Libya. All Libya cares about is to extricate itself from these sanctions and re-enter the international and particularly the US market.--"Libya agrees Lockerbie deal," BBC News, August 14, 2003]

Copyright © 2001 The Wisdom Fund - Provided that it is not edited, and author name, organization, and web address ( are included, this article may be printed in newspapers and magazines, and displayed on the Internet.
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