Conspiracy theories aside
September 24, 2009
an unrepentant and cold-blooded mass-murderer
To be scrupulously accurate (as you might think would befit a silk): al-Megrahi is “unrepentant” in the sense that he has always protested his innocence. Normally one would describe a man as “unrepentant” who admitted performing an act but was not sorry for it. Still, if he denies ever committing the act in question, I suppose he is a fortiori unrepentant about it as well. But al-Megrahi’s unrepentance is not, of course, the only reason Robertson considers him guilty. There is the question of what went on in the heads of some number of experienced Scottish judges:
the question of Megrahi’s guilt [was] proved beyond reasonable doubt in the minds of eight experienced Scottish judges.
To arrive at the figure of eight judges, Robertson has presumably added the three judges who convicted Megrahi to the five judges who refused his first appeal in 2002. But was the question of Megrahi’s guilt proved beyond reasonable doubt in the five appeal judges’ minds? As a matter of fact, the appeal judgment explicitly states that the judges were not in the business of re-deciding the question of Megrahi’s culpability:
[I]n this appeal we have not required to consider whether the evidence before the trial court, apart from the evidence which it rejected, was sufficient as a matter of law to entitle it to convict the appellant on the basis set out in its judgment. We have not had to consider whether the verdict of guilty was one which no reasonable trial court, properly directing itself, could have returned in the light of that evidence. As can be seen from this Opinion, the grounds of appeal before us have been concerned, for the most part, with complaints about the treatment by the trial court of the material which was before it and the submissions which were made to it by the defence.
So much for eight judges being convinced beyond reasonable doubt of Megrahi’s guilt. You might think this a sloppy or misleading characterization of the judge-mind arithmetic by Robertson, but three out of a claimed eight is still something, isn’t it? And those three original trial judges were “experienced”, mind you. Plus, they were Scottish?
Anyway, perhaps the most piquant expression of Robertson’s stout certainty on this matter comes in a more recent article that denounces Gaddafi as “the worst man left in the world”: ((There’s something curious about this “left” — calling Gaddafi “the worst man left” — as though we were in the midst of a global clean-up operation (whose notable successes have included, perhaps, the “removal” of Saddam), and it only remained for us to round up the last few stragglers.))
If Megrahi was guilty of the Lockerbie bombing (and, conspiracy theories aside, the evidence justified the verdict), then Gaddafi must have given the order.
Conspiracy theories aside? Er, the case against Megrahi was a conspiracy theory, in competition with another conspiracy theory, that the PFLP-GC did it. There is, of course, also an overarching theory about possible conspiracy to pervert the course of the investigation and trial. This story, one can hardly deny, is all about conspiracy theories wherever you look. If Robertson chooses to believe one conspiracy theory and discount the others, he can hardly be claiming to set all conspiracy theories aside. Which conspiracy theory do you believe, readers?