Reports are claiming that witnesses in the Lockerbie bombings were paid by the United States in exchange for the testimony of two brothers. The claims of bribes are said to have been released today by Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's lawyers. See videos below.
As a refresher, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988, killing 270. Everyone on the flight died. Eleven people died on the ground.
There were 180 Americans aboard the plane, including 35 Syracuse University students. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, a citizen of Libya, was the only person convicted of the bombings. I'm unsure of the nuances of these reports. Al-Megrahi is said to have given up his appeal, evidently based on notes in diaries of investigators, which were supposedly released online today, in exchange for his freedom.
This report says that Libya paid British physicians to give their opinion about the Libyan's state-of-health:
Cancer specialist Karol Sikora and two others received £100 an hour to consider how long they believed Abdelbaset Al Megrahi had to live.
Professor Sikora admitted yesterday that although he initially thought Megrahi could live for as long as 18 months, he was 'encouraged' to conclude he would die from prostate cancer within three months.
This is important as it is the amount of time under which Scottish law allows someone to be freed on compassionate grounds.
So, is the intimation that terrible things were about to be released about the U.S. and bribes to put al-Megrahi in prison - and the way that got handled is for al-Megrahi to drop his appeal in exchange for going home? But the "diaries and notebooks" (unofficial notebooks) were released anyway? If that's the case, it didn't work because someone is talking, and of course they would. Here is what is said to have constituted the payments:
The documents published online by Megrahi's lawyers today show that the US Department of Justice (DoJ) was asked to pay $2m to Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper who gave crucial evidence at the trial suggesting that Megrahi had bought clothes later used in the suitcase that allegedly held the Lockerbie bomb.
The DoJ was also asked to pay a further $1m to his brother, Paul Gauci, who did not give evidence but played a major role in identifying the clothing and in "maintaining the resolve of his brother". The DoJ said their rewards could be increased and that the brothers were also eligible for the US witness protection programme, according to the documents.
The previously secret payments were uncovered by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which returned Megrahi's conviction to the court of appeal in 2007 as a suspected miscarriage of justice. Many references were in private diaries kept by the detectives involved, Megrahi's lawyers said, but not their official notebooks. The SCCRC was unable to establish exactly how much the brothers received under the DoJ's "reward-for-justice" programme but found it was after Megrahi's trial and his first appeal in 1992 was thrown out.There is talk of "contradictory evidence."
Two identification experts hired by Megrahi's appeal team said the police and prosecution breached the rules on witness interviews, using "suggestive" lines of questioning and allowing "irregular" identification line-ups.There is only one thing we know at this point, and that is Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, who was head of the Libyan Arab Airlines and a Libyan intelligence officer at the time of the bombing, is still alive, living with family, and 270 persons are dead.