Megrahi dies

Will we ever know the truth about Lockerbie?

New Statesman
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, September 2009 (Photo: Getty Images)

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer and the only person to be convicted for the Lockerbie bombing in 1988, has died at his home in Tripoli. He was 60 years old. Megrahi had been living in Tripoli since 2009, when he was freed from prison in Scotland on compassionate grounds.

Many, including some of the families of the victims of PanAm flight 103, have never been convinced of Megrahi's guilt. In the New Statesman in September 2009, shortly after Megrahi's release, John Pilger wrote:

No one in authority has had the guts to state the truth about the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 above the Scottish village of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, in which 270 people were killed. The governments in England and Scotland in effect blackmailed Megrahi into dropping his appeal as a condition of his immediate release ... “The endgame came down to damage limitation," said the former CIA officer Robert Baer, who took part in the original investigation, "because the evidence amassed by [Megrahi's] appeal is explosive and extremely damning to the system of justice." New witnesses would show that it was impossible for Megrahi to have bought clothes that were found in the wreckage of the Pan Am aircraft - he was convicted on the word of a Maltese shopowner who claimed to have sold him the clothes, then gave a false description of him in 19 separate statements and even failed to recognise him in the courtroom. The new evidence would have shown that a fragment of a circuit board and bomb timer, "discovered" in the Scottish countryside and said to have been in Megrahi's suitcase, was probably a plant. A forensic scientist found no trace of an explosion on it. The new evidence would demonstrate the impossibility of the bomb beginning its journey in Malta before it was "transferred" through two airports undetected to Flight 103.