A while back I wrote an essay here titled Angry about the “Lockerbie bomber” getting released? because, well, the media was able to ramp up quite a spectacle of anger and indignation regarding the dying man who was convicted of the attack being released.
The whole case has been fishy from the very beginning, and now? Well, flying well under the radar of the so-called “media” in this country (after all, a juicy blackmail story involving a celebrity is far more important than anything else in the world) are new revelations that key witnesses in Megrahi’s conviction were paid just a TON of money for their testimony.
Two key figures in the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber were secretly given rewards of up to $3m (£1.9m) in a deal discussed by Scottish detectives and the US government, according to legal papers released today.
The claims about the payments were revealed in a dossier of evidence that was intended to be used in an appeal by Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of murdering 270 people in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988.
Megrahi abandoned his appeal last month after the Libyan and Scottish governments struck a deal to free him on compassionate grounds because he is terminally ill with prostate cancer. Now in hospital in Tripoli, Megrahi said he wanted the public to see the evidence which he claims would have cleared him.
“I continue to protest my innocence – how could I fail to do so?,” he said. “I have no desire to add to the upset of many people I know are profoundly affected by what happened in Lockerbie. My intention is only for the truth to be made known.”
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.
So the money came from the United States. Gee, what a surprise.