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Death List 2010

Yes folks this years macabre list is HERE

Apart from anything else, did anyone else realise that Cyril Smith is STILL ALIVE??? (kind of puts the diet or die lobby to the sword – no?)

Or Denis Healey?

No surprise to see former Greenock Prison inmate Abdelbasset Ali Al Megrahi at number 1 from last year’s number 2.

Clive Dunn must be laughing at them having been on the list 14 times! (Don’t panic!)

Deal or No Deal?

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time this morning. However I have had a look at the correspondence and papers relating to the Megrahi case both from the UK and Scottish governments.

The Guardian very helpfully puts the links all on the one page CLICK HERE to view them.

So, did Megrahi receive any guarantees that if he dropped his appeal his release would follow? If he did I can’t find it.

Certainly in the original application for release under the prisoner transfer agreement by the Libyan government on Megrahi’s behalf offered the deal of dropping the appeal if he were to be promised release (page 2 paragraph 3)

I notice that Iain Gray has now unsurprisingly shifted his position from saying the decision was wrong and one that he would have personally interfered with had he been First Minister. He’s now mumbling stuff about it being ‘handled very badly’. Hmmmm I wonder if he has had time to read his lords’ and masters’ releases of yesterday amongst which was the refusal of Jack Straw to EXCLUDE Megrahi from any prisoner release agreement with Libya. For the avoidance of doubt, that request was made by the Scottish government in 2008.

I repeat what I said a couple of weeks ago. Some you win, some you can’t win. As soon as these applications landed on Kenny MacAskill’s desk, he was going to be the fall guy no matter what he decided.

The interesting upshot of all this is that even though an ICM poll has shown that a majority in Scotland oppose MacAskill’s decision, support for the SNP has remained unaffected. Meanwhile predictions of a 20% boost in support for independence when Mr Cameron sweeps into Downing Street may be rather over egging the pudding but only a fool would predict the independence referendum result.

8)

No I’m not going to predict it! (other than to say it probably won’t happen)

Straws in the Wind

The Lockerbie issue is still high on the agenda of the Sunday papers and the rest of the media.

I am more convinced than ever of two things (just an opinion mind you):

1) The release of Megrahi by Kenny MacAskill was not part of any ‘deal’

2) The UK government has for many years been trying to influence and engineer Megrahi’s release. Tony Blair put much energy and effort into securing a prisoner transfer scheme with Colonel Gaddafi in 2004.

In 2004 there was one Libyan prisoner being held in the UK.

His name was Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi.

All Medical Experts Now

As the Telegraph, Mail et al don their deep sea diving gear to see which new depths they can now plumb, Tory windbag Bill Aitken calls into question the medical prognosis on Megrahi. The Telegraph has wheeled out a doctor to say that like Gordon Broon, Megrahi could well survive beyond three months.

The doctor of course has never examined Megrahi.

How long before the headline ‘Megrahi release could affect housing market recovery’?

I wouldn’t totally discount it.

Seriously.

Message for Iain Gray

Silent majority my arse.

That’s all.

Yet More Lockerbie

Interesting stuff from the Scotsman from a few years ago.

New Scotsman, Sun 28 Aug 2005

A FORMER Scottish police chief has given lawyers a signed statement claiming that key evidence in the Lockerbie bombing trial was fabricated.

The retired officer – of assistant chief constable rank or higher – has testified that the CIA planted the tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan for the 1989 mass murder of 270 people.

The vital evidence that linked the bombing of Pan Am 103 to Megrahi was a tiny fragment of circuit board which investigators found in a wooded area many miles from Lockerbie months after the atrocity.

The fragment was later identified by the FBI’s Thomas Thurman as being part of a sophisticated timer device used to detonate explosives, and manufactured by the Swiss firm Mebo, which supplied it only to Libya and the East German Stasi.

At one time, Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, was such a regular visitor to Mebo that he had his own office in the firm’s headquarters.

The fragment of circuit board therefore enabled Libya – and Megrahi – to be placed at the heart of the investigation. However, Thurman was later unmasked as a fraud who had given false evidence in American murder trials, and it emerged that he had little in the way of scientific qualifications.

Then, in 2003, a retired CIA officer gave a statement to Megrahi’s lawyers in which he alleged evidence had been planted.

The decision of a former Scottish police chief to back this claim could add enormous weight to what has previously been dismissed as a wild conspiracy theory. It has long been rumoured the fragment was planted to implicate Libya for political reasons.

Unfortunate

The Lockerbie stushie is showing no signs of abating and the main fall guy continues to be Scottish justice minister Kenny MacAskill. I’m probably in a dwindling number who has sympathy left for him but really some of the press comment has been a disgrace.

The internet forums have descended predictably into remarks about ‘skirt wearing twats’ etc.

Then there’s the man from the FBI

If there really is something more to MacAskill’s decision than the advice on medical grounds from doctors, the prison governor, the parole board and legal officers then lets hear exactly what these accusations are. If the decision was taken for other reasons than simple compassion for a dying man, then those saying so should now say specifically what they are and provide the proof.

To try to somehow blame MacAskill for the bizarre behaviour and statements of Colonel Gaddafi ignores the latter’s considerable previous form.

Release

I can only be describing one news item.

I have absolutely no idea if Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi planted the bomb which so cruelly and violently ended the lives of 270 people on Pan Am flight 103 and the town of Lockerbie in December 1988.

There have however been many doubts cast on the conviction by some of those (and many of them experts) who heard the full case at Camp Zeist in 2000/2001. Others who witnessed the trial are convinced the guilty man was jailed.

The doubts and the reasons behind them are all well publicised. I’m not going to re-list them here.

Neither am I going to comment further on the following of legal procedure and custom or otherwise by Scottish justice minister Kenny MacAskill except to say that by any standards this is a unique case.

What I will say is this. MacAskill (not a man I’m a great fan of incidentally), made I think the correct decision in freeing the terminally ill Libyan jailed for the Lockerbie bombing.

The medical evidence is that he has less than three months to live and the release was made on grounds of compassion.

Compassion is surely one of the more endearing traits of the human condition. It is something which separates civilised and barbaric societies.

Revenge, retribution and punishment to the extent that they should be visited upon a man already dying and who poses no further threat or potential to harm anyone, no matter what he is accused or convicted of, is surely not the motif of a mature democtratic, civilised and dare I say it Christian society?

Or is it still an eye for an eye?

Once the two separate applications (one for prisoner transfer and one for compassionate release) had been made by Megrahi’s legal team, the whole fetid Lockerbie package landed on MacAskill’s desk.

Whilst the result of his decision was the unedifying scenes from Tripoli last night and media, political and legal condemnation, the alternative outcome would have no doubt seen unedifying gloating from certain quarters in the USA and UK accompanied by er…..media, political and legal condemnation.

Some you win, some you can’t win.

The response from Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray in his wee effete voice claiming that if he was first minister Megrahi would have stayed in prison was as pathetic as it was hypothetical. Gray is undoubtedly more “you’ll have had your tea” than “yer tea’s oot!”

No doubt arguments will rage over Lockerbie for years to come. Some say that with the dropping of Megrahi’s appeal and his release, the truth will never now be known. I don’t think the definitive truth ever had a chance in this case.

I don’t think its even “out there” any more to borrow a phrase.

What’s the Truth?

I haven’t done too much “serious” posting recently but I’ve been involved in discussion elsewhere on the stushie currently going on in Scotland over the status of the “Lockerbie Bomber” Abdel Basset Ali Al Megrahi who is currently serving his sentence in Greenock Prison. In July the Libyan Government applied to have Megrahi transferred to Libya under the prisoner transfer scheme agreed between Colonel Gadaffi and Tony Blair in 2004. For this course of action to succeed, any outstanding legal impediment would have to be withdrawn. In Megrahi’s case there were two such impediments, firstly the convicted bomber’s second appeal against his conviction and secondly the crown’s own appeal to have the sentence increased. Megrahi made an application to have his appeal withdrawn and this was granted yesterday.It has been suggested that the Crown will drop its appeal in the near future.

Megrahi’s legal team meanwhile, funded by the Libyan government, made a quite separate application for their client to be released on compassionate grounds as he is suffering from terminal prostate cancer. For such a process to succeed would take only the decision of the Scottish government via its justice minister Kenny MacAskill. MacAskill took the unprecedented step of visiting Megrahi in Greenock Prison as part of his decision making process. There is hardly anyone with an opinion to offer that does not believe that MacAskill offered Megrahi a deal i.e. ‘drop your appeal and we’ll release you’. Those putting this theory forward say that the Scottish Government and therefore legal system could breathe a sigh of relief and draw a line under the whole Lockerbie affair.

MacAskill and his party leader Salmond insist there is no deal. The media and any legal people I know scoff at this and say that no legal team would drop an appeal unless they had been given an absolute guarantee of release.

I simply don’t know.

I have taken the following quote from Professor Robert Black’s blog about Lockerbie

“Mr Salmond insisted no decision had been made and issued a strong vote of confidence in the justice secretary, who has been under fire over the past week for his handling of the issue, following leaks suggesting Megrahi is to be released.

Mr Salmond said: “I can also say that a final decision has not been taken by the justice secretary – he only received his final advice at the weekend. I’m absolutely confident if there is one person in Scotland I would absolutely trust to make the right decision for the right reasons, it’s Kenny MacAskill.”

He also tried to quash suggestions that the dropping of Megrahi’s appeal had anything to do with a meeting between the convicted bomber and Mr MacAskill.

“What I can say is, the Scottish Government had no interest whatsoever in Mr Megrahi dropping his appeal,” he said.”

Which begs the question:

Are all the opposition parties, the media and legal insiders wrong? or are they right which would make Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill bare faced liars?

Leaving aside the innocence or guilt of Megrahi, the rights and wrongs of release and the opinion of victims’ families, this is what the current news story boils down to.

What are we to think?

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