And we need to be heard

Daily Express - - For Brexit -

played his part in try­ing to dis­cover the truth.

Five years ago, he trav­elled to Swe­den to con­front Mo­hammed Abo Talb, a con­victed ter­ror­ist then re­cently re­leased from a 20-year sen­tence in that coun­try, hop­ing to ques­tion him over his sus­pected role in the bomb­ing.

The ter­ror­ist hid from the then 77-year-old be­hind his wife, re­fus­ing even to talk through an open sec­ond-floor win­dow.

In Scot­land and in the US, the au­thor­i­ties con­tinue to main­tain that Me­grahi was guilty and that the bomb­ing was planned and paid for by Libya, though the Scot­tish Crim­i­nal Cases Re­view Com­mis­sion is ex­pected to re­fer Me­grahi’s case for a post­hu­mous ap­peal shortly.

In 2007, the Com­mis­sion said there may have been a mis­car­riage of jus­tice on six grounds, among them the fact that no rea­son­able court could have con­victed Me­grahi on the ev­i­dence pre­sented, a damn­ing con­dem­na­tion of the ver­dict.

In 2009, Me­grahi, by then di­ag­nosed with ter­mi­nal cancer, aban­doned his ap­peal in or­der to se­cure a trans­fer home to Libya. But Swire is cer­tain that the SCCRC can­not ig­nore the ev­i­dence it had un­earthed more than a decade ear­lier.

“I am cer­tain there will be an­other ap­peal, and that the con­vic­tion can­not be main­tained in the face of over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence that points away from my friend,” he says. “But the au­thor­i­ties DEV­AS­TATED: Jim Swire to­day, dam­age in Locker­bie and right, Jim and wife Jane hold­ing photo of Flora

are in no hurry. They like to de­lay. They cre­ate the delays, and I won­der whether I will even see the con­vic­tion quashed, never mind the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that must fol­low into who re­ally did it.”

Swire, like many in­formed Locker­bie watch­ers, be­lieves the ter­ror group, the PFLP-GC, the first sus­pects in the case, were the cul­prits, and that the bomb­ing was or­dered and paid for by Iran.

When an Iran Air­bus car­ry­ing pil­grims to Mecca was shot down over the Gulf by the US ves­sel Vin­cennes five months be­fore Locker­bie, killing all 290 on board, the Ira­ni­ans said the skies would run with the blood of Amer­i­cans.

Rather than of­fer an apol­ogy, the Amer­i­cans fur­ther pro­voked the Ira­ni­ans by giv­ing Wil­liam C Rogers III, the cap­tain of the Vin­cennes, an award for “brav­ery”. Swire was ap­palled by the dis­re­gard the US dis­played for the Ira­nian vic­tims and re­mains cer­tain that it con­trib­uted to the Locker­bie bomb­ing.

His anger, how­ever, is not con­fined only to the cul­prits, or even to the US and Scot­tish in­ves­ti­ga­tors, who he be­lieves wil­fully ig­nored the ev­i­dence against Iran and the PFLP-GC to pur­sue Libya for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons.

CRU­CIAL to the pur­suit of the regime in Tripoli was the the­ory that the bomb was det­o­nated by a so­phis­ti­cated timer, and started its jour­ney in an un­ac­com­pa­nied suit­case on an Air Malta flight from Luqa Air­port, where Me­grahi and Fhimah worked for Libyan Arab Air­lines. The bag was then sup­posed to be tagged to go on to Pan Am 103A, a feeder flight from Frank­furt to Heathrow for the on­go­ing flight to JFK. The trial heard no ev­i­dence to sup­port the three-flight the­ory, yet the judges ac­cepted it.

Swire is there­fore also an­gry with suc­ces­sive UK gov­ern­ments for al­low­ing it to hap­pen in the first place and then for fail­ing to de­liver truth and jus­tice. He still craves the full pub­lic in­quiry.

“When Sher­iff Prin­ci­pal John Mowatt QC pub­lished his re­port in Oc­to­ber 1990 into the fa­tal ac­ci­dent in­quiry he chaired, he said the bomb­ing had been avoid­able,” he says.

“Ce­cil Parkin­son, who be­came Sec­re­tary of State for Trans­port in 1989, promised the rel­a­tives a full pub­lic in­quiry, then had to let us down be­cause Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t al­low it.

“In the lead-up to Labour win­ning the gen­eral elec­tion in 1997, we met with Robin Cook and Tony Blair and were promised it would be dif­fer­ent when they won power. Af­ter they won, they stopped re­turn­ing our calls.

“We know there were warn­ings to in­tel­li­gence agen­cies about a threat to Pan Am flights at this time. We know this plane was only two-thirds full when ev­ery other flight from Heathrow to JFK in that week be­fore Christ­mas flew at least at 95 per cent ca­pac­ity and we know that some VIPs who were booked on the flight didn’t travel.

“We also be­lieve the ‘three-flights’ the­ory to be non­sense. The judges said the Crown had failed to prove there was an un­ac­com­pa­nied case on the flight from Malta to Frank­furt and clung to the flim­si­est pos­si­bil­ity of an un­ac­com­pa­nied case on the flight to Heathrow.

“All the ev­i­dence tells us the bomb was loaded at Heathrow. It was our gov­ern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to keep Flora and all the oth­ers safe.

“Any par­ent would be shout­ing for an­swers, and 30 years on we are still shout­ing and we need to be heard.”

Pic­tures: PA, GETTY, BBC

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