By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Scotland today released terminally ill Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of blowing up Pan Am 103 on December 21, 1988. The decision was made on the grounds of compassion—let him see his homeland one more time before he shuffles off this mortal coil. And not surprisingly the move has spurred howls of outrage (why should he get more compassion than the 270 people killed in that terrorist attack?).
But there are some who believe that al-Megrahi should never have been convicted in the first place, that he was, to use the Lee Harvey Oswald-ism, a patsy. Journalist Nathan Thrall laid out the case here in January, a few days after the 20th anniversary of the bombing. He wrote:
An official Scottish review body has declared that a "miscarriage of justice may have occurred" in the conviction of the Libyan intelligence officer, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. The reviewers examined a secret document, provided to the United Kingdom by a foreign government and seen during Megrahi's trial by only the prosecution, that they said cast serious doubts on Megrahi's guilt. A new appeal of Megrahi's conviction is scheduled for this coming spring. The U.N. special observer appointed by Kofi Annan to Megrahi's trial, Hans Koechler, has declared that Megrahi was wrongfully convicted, as have the legal architect of his special trial, Prof. Robert Black, and a spokesperson for the families of the British victims, Jim Swire.
He lists other problems with the prosecutions' case and notes that high ranking Libyans have pooh-poohed the admission of guilt, saying that they were buying peace and that was the cost. Thrall suggests Iran might truly have been behind the bombing. Who's right? In all likelihood, questions about the Lockerbie bombing will take their place in the ranks of numerous other American conspiracy theories.