It’s pretty unlikely that Megrahi was culpable of bombing Pan Am 103. I’m not saying he didn’t have anything to do with, maybe he did; he was after all a member of the Libyan secret service, but then again so were a lot of people. His employment situation is a circumstantial fact, like the rest of the evidence, after the prosecution case was seriously embarrassed at the trial.
I don’t claim to be an expert on this case, as I wasn’t there. My view is formed after following an R4 recreation of the trial based on the transcripts. Typical of any trial, there was no shortage of information or witnesses, but it seemed to me that only two pieces of evidence were crucial.
The first was an ordinary shopkeeper who sold a T-shirt to a customer some time before the bombing. The T-shirt was found charred, in a field, with fragments of the detonator inside of it. The label was the clue that took investigators to his shop in Malta.
The shop keeper was presented by the prosecution as the man who identified Megrahi as the customer who bought the T-shirt that was wrapped around the bomb, but the trial revealed that he identified a number of people, was vague about Megrahi and had to be led to ID him in the court, and was even vague about that. So this is not exactly a compelling piece of evidence.
The 2nd witness was a Libyan defector who claimed to be a member of the secret service but was revealed to be a complete fantasist. He was smuggled out of Libya by the CIA, given US citizenship, a $1,000 per month pension, and a potential $4million reward for a conviction against Megrahi.
His evidence included his witnessing of Semtex kept in a desk drawer in the Libya secret service’s office in Malta, yet he only told this to the CIA two and a half years following his initial interview. Perhaps it slipped his mind. His account of how the suitcase was put on the plane was equally inconsistent and uncorroborated. The court dismissed his evidence as unreliable.
From what I can gather it seems pretty clear that Megrahi was convicted on circumstantial evidence; that the case against him was vague. In all my experience of the courts, I wouldn’t say that there was enough evidence to convict in this case. But convicted he was.
To understand this business, we have to take into account the violent background of the politics, which included the bombing of a Berlin Cafe killing American troops and Ronald Reagan’s response; missile attacks against Tripoli killing Qaddafi’s adopted daughter.
After years of sanctions, Qaddafi handed over Megrahi in the hope of a political settlement. This was a great triumph for Britain and America. To then release Megrahi as not guilty, would have left a bitter taste in the mouth, and would have destroyed the tentative move towards relations that eventually culminated in the disarmament of Libya’s nuclear development program.
In my opinion, the trial verdict was political rather than judicial. However, this, in its own way was progress, compared to everyone killing each other. Since then, times have changed. Qaddafi has come in from the cold, while Megrahi, a man guilty in the eyes of the law, but innocent in light of the evidence, was dying in a Scottish jail. What should have been done?
Release him on compassionate grounds. And have done with this sorry business. That’s what I say.