This film, Lockerbie: Case Closed, will give hope to all those who believe that the Libyan is an innocent man and not the mass murderer that the prosecution claimed at his trial.
It reveals the hitherto secret assessment of the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission (SCCRC) - a quasi-public body in Scotland that is independent from the courts and the government - which has examined the case against al-Megrahi in detail. Its report, which has never been published, raises numerous reasons for concern about a possible miscarriage of justice - especially the status of the testimony given by one Tony Gauci, a Maltese shop owner and the prosecution's main witness. He identified al-Megrahi as a man who had bought clothing and an umbrella from him on December 7, 1988 - remnants of which were later recovered from among debris from the disaster scene and which, according to investigators, had been in the same suitcase as the bomb.
As the film shows, the SCCRC found a number of reasons to seriously question this identification and Gauci's account about events on December 7 - the only date that al-Megrahi could have been in Malta to make such purchases. The report also raises concerns about the legitimacy of the formal identification process, in which Gauci picked al-Megrahi out from a line-up. The commission found that Gauci had seen al-Megrahi's photo in a magazine article identifying him as a possible suspect before the parade took place. The SCCRC also found that Scottish police knew that Gauci was interested in financial rewards, despite maintaining that Gauci had shown no such interest. Gauci reportedly picked up a $2m US government reward for his role in the case. Under Scottish law, witnesses cannot be paid for their testimony.
Prior to his return home, al-Megrahi had been seeking an appeal against his conviction. Had that hearing ever taken place then the SCCRC's conclusions and their evidence would have come to light.
On that basis alone, the Libyan would have almost certainly walked from court a free man. However, the film also reveals the results of new scientific tests that comprehensively undermine the validity of the most crucial piece of forensic evidence linking the bombing to Libya - a fragment of electronic timer found embedded in the shredded remains of a shirt that was supposedly bought from Gauci's shop by al-Megrahi. The timer, said the prosecution, was identical to ones sold to Libyan intelligence by Swiss manufacturers. But as the new tests show, it was not identical and it now seems that British government scientists knew this all along.
John Ashton, who has been investigating the case for nearly 20 years, including time spent as part of al-Megrahi's defence team, has written a book on the affair with al-Megrahi. In the Al Jazeera film he says: "The Lockerbie disaster was Europe's worst terrorist attack. More Americans died in that attack than in any other terrorist event before 9/11. It's also Britain's worst miscarriage of justice, the wrong man was convicted and the real killers are still out there."
Lockerbie: Case Closed was produced and directed by William Cran and Christopher Jeans and is a Network Features production for Al Jazeera. It is narrated by Sean Barrett.
[The Sydney Morning Herald today publishes a report headlined Lockerbie Evidence is in Doubt; and on the website of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism there appears a long article entitled Lockerbie: was Megrahi innocent?]
Lockerbie Evidence Planted (Mueller in charge)