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Hans Köchler's Lockerbie trial observer mission

Hans Köchler's Lockerbie trial observer mission

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Hans Köchler
Hans Köchler
Hans Köchler is a professor of philosophy at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and president of the International Progress Organization, a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations...

's Lockerbie trial observer mission
stemmed from the dispute between the United Kingdom, the United States, and Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 concerning arrangements for the trial of two Libyans accused of causing the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103
Pan Am Flight 103
Pan Am Flight 103 was Pan American World Airways' third daily scheduled transatlantic flight from London Heathrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport...

 over Lockerbie
Lockerbie
Lockerbie is a town in the Dumfries and Galloway region of south-western Scotland. It lies approximately from Glasgow, and from the English border. It had a population of 4,009 at the 2001 census...

 on 21 December 1988.

The dispute was resolved on the basis of legally binding United Nations Security Council Resolution 1192
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1192
UN Security Council Resolution 1192, adopted unanimously on 27 August 1998, after recalling resolutions 731 , 748 and 883 , the Council welcomed an initiative to try two Libyan suspects accused of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 before a Scottish court in the Netherlands.The Security Council...

 of 27 August 1998.

UN-nominated observers


UN Security Council resolution 1192 "welcomed" "the initiative for the trial of the two [Libyan] persons charged with the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 ... before a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands"
Scottish Court in the Netherlands
The Scottish court in the Netherlands was the special High Court of Justiciary set up under Scots law in a former United States Air Force base called Camp Zeist in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, for the trial of two Libyans charged with 270 counts of murder in connection with the bombing of Pan Am...

 and "invited" the Secretary-General of the United Nations "to nominate international observers to attend the trial". By a letter dated 28 October 1997, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom had informed the Secretary-General "that the United Kingdom would welcome the presence of international observers from the United Nations at the trial of the suspects in the Lockerbie bombing". At a UN press conference on 5 April 1999, Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006...

, in reply to a journalist's question, said: "Well, there are provisions for international observers, and this is something that we will need to work out. There have been suggestions that there could be international observers from various organizations, from the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

, from the OAU, from NAM
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 and all that. But we are going to coordinate that and make sure that there is an effective international presence during the trial, to monitor ... "

In a letter dated 25 April 2000, addressed to the President of the Security Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006...

 nominated five international observers, one each from the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, the League of Arab States, and jointly from the Organization of African Unity and the Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

, and two from the International Progress Organization
International Progress Organization
The International Progress Organization is a Vienna-based think tank dealing with world affairs. As an international non-governmental organization it enjoys consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and is associated with the United Nations Department of...

, a Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

-based NGO in consultative status
Consultative Status
Consultative Status is a phrase whose use can be traced to the founding of the United Nations and is used within the UN community to refer to "Non-governmental organizations in Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council." Also some international organizations could...

 with the United Nations, among them the organization’s President, Hans Köchler
Hans Köchler
Hans Köchler is a professor of philosophy at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and president of the International Progress Organization, a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations...

, Professor at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.

Reports on the trial and appeal


Hans Köchler
Hans Köchler
Hans Köchler is a professor of philosophy at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and president of the International Progress Organization, a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations...

 was the only international observer to submit comprehensive reports on the Lockerbie trial and appeal proceedings to the Secretary-General of the United Nations who, in turn, forwarded them to the Registrar of the Scottish Court in the Netherlands
Scottish Court in the Netherlands
The Scottish court in the Netherlands was the special High Court of Justiciary set up under Scots law in a former United States Air Force base called Camp Zeist in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, for the trial of two Libyans charged with 270 counts of murder in connection with the bombing of Pan Am...

.

Köchler’s reports were highly critical of the proceedings and challenged the fairness and impartiality of the High Court of Justiciary
High Court of Justiciary
The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court of Scotland.The High Court is both a court of first instance and a court of appeal. As a court of first instance, the High Court sits mainly in Parliament House, or in the former Sheriff Court building, in Edinburgh, but also sits from time...

. Their publication triggered a large-scale international debate, including in the British House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

, about the politicization of criminal trials in the context of power politics
Power politics
Power politics, or Machtpolitik , is a state of international relations in which sovereigns protect their own interests by threatening one another with military, economic, or political aggression...

. Köchler had characterized the initial trial verdict of 31 January 2001 (which had led to the acquittal of one of the two accused Libyans) as "inconsistent" and "arbitrary". On the day of the announcement of the appeal verdict (14 March 2002) he described the dismissal of the convicted Libyan national’s appeal as a "spectacular miscarriage of justice".

Second Lockerbie appeal


Upon publication on 28 June 2007 of a summary of a report by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission is a non-departmental public body in Scotland, established by the Criminal Procedure Act 1995 ....

, which took four years to review Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's case and granted him leave for a second appeal against conviction, Köchler issued a statement in which he expressed surprise at the Commission's focus and apparent bias in favour of the judicial establishment in Scotland:
"In giving exoneration to the police, prosecutors and forensic staff, I think they show their lack of independence. No officials to be blamed: simply a Maltese shopkeeper."

He called for the full report of the SCCRC to be published, for a full and independent public inquiry
Public inquiry
A Tribunal of Inquiry is an official review of events or actions ordered by a government body in Common Law countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland or Canada. Such a public inquiry differs from a Royal Commission in that a public inquiry accepts evidence and conducts its hearings in a more...

 into the Lockerbie bombing case and for the proceedings of the Court of Criminal Appeal
Court of Criminal Appeal
The Court of Criminal Appeal is the name of existing courts of Scotland and Ireland, and an historic court in England and Wales.- Ireland :See Court of Criminal Appeal ...

 to be witnessed by international observers.

On 4 July 2007, Köchler wrote to Scottish first minister, Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond
Alexander Elliot Anderson "Alex" Salmond MSP is a Scottish politician and current First Minister of Scotland. He became Scotland's fourth First Minister in May 2007. He is the Leader of the Scottish National Party , having served as Member of the Scottish Parliament for Gordon...

, British foreign secretary, David Miliband
David Miliband
David Wright Miliband is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for South Shields since 2001, and was the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2007 to 2010. He is the elder son of the late Marxist theorist Ralph Miliband...

, home secretary, Jacqui Smith
Jacqui Smith
Jacqueline Jill "Jacqui" Smith is a member of the British Labour Party. She served as the Member of Parliament for Redditch from 1997 until 2010 and was the first ever female Home Secretary, thus making her the third woman to hold one of the Great Offices of State — after Margaret Thatcher and...

 and minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Mark Malloch Brown
Mark Malloch Brown
George Mark Malloch Brown, Baron Malloch-Brown, KCMG, PC is a former Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British government with responsibility for Africa, Asia and the United Nations...

, reiterating his call for a public inquiry into the Lockerbie case and insisting that UN-appointed legal experts (from countries other than the UK, US and Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

) should be involved in
such an inquiry.

In the June 2008 edition of the Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm, Köchler referred to the 'totalitarian' nature of the second Lockerbie appeal process saying it "bears the hallmarks of an 'intelligence operation'."

Wide-ranging debate


Köchler’s reports as UN-appointed international observer of one of the most controversial criminal trials in British history have led to a global debate on the role of NGO observers in the context of international criminal justice.

Through his novel and pro-active interpretation of his assignment as UN-appointed "international observer" he has effectively redefined the role of observers in the context of international criminal justice
International criminal law
International criminal law is a body of international law designed to prohibit certain categories of conduct commonly viewed as serious atrocities and to make perpetrators of such conduct criminally accountable for their perpetration. Principally, it deals with genocide, war crimes, crimes against...

. His reports have been published as landmark documents of international law in collections such as that of the Peace Palace
Peace Palace
The Peace Palace is a building situated in The Hague, Netherlands. It is often called the seat of international law because it houses the International Court of Justice , the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the extensive Peace Palace Library.In addition...

 Library of the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

.

His experience as observer of the Lockerbie trial led him to write the book Global Justice or Global Revenge?
Global Justice or Global Revenge
Global Justice or Global Revenge? International Criminal Justice at the Crossroads is a book by Austrian philosopher Hans Köchler, who was appointed by the United Nations as observer of the Lockerbie bombing trial in the Netherlands...

 (2003) in which he describes the challenges faced by international criminal justice under the conditions of power politics
Power politics
Power politics, or Machtpolitik , is a state of international relations in which sovereigns protect their own interests by threatening one another with military, economic, or political aggression...

 and draws general conclusions in terms of the doctrine of international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

.

In September 2008, following a meeting organised by the Lockerbie Justice Group at Greshornish House on the Isle of Skye, Köchler and Professor Robert Black called for a new public inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing. Köchler said:
"Irrespective of the outcome of the current appeal, there should be a reinvestigation of the incident by the Scottish authorities. It is extremely frustrating that with regard to such an incident just one person has been presented as the culprit and no further questions asked. Only a child would believe such a story."

During Köchler's visit to Scotland, he met former MP and Lockerbie activist Tam Dalyell
Tam Dalyell
Sir Thomas Dalyell Loch, 11th Baronet , known as Tam Dalyell, is a British Labour Party politician, who was a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons from 1962 to 2005, first for West Lothian and then for Linlithgow.-Early life:...

, MSP
Member of the Scottish Parliament
Member of the Scottish Parliament is the title given to any one of the 129 individuals elected to serve in the Scottish Parliament.-Methods of Election:MSPs are elected in one of two ways:...

 Alex Neil and Iain McKie, father of Scottish policewoman Shirley McKie
Shirley McKie
Shirley McKie is a former Scottish police detective who was accused by fingerprint analysis staff of the Scottish Criminal Record Office of leaving her thumb print on the bathroom door frame of a murder crime-scene in Kilmarnock on 14 January 1997....

. On 18 September 2008, he delivered a keynote speech on the "Lockerbie Trial and the Rule of Law" organised by The Firm magazine which was held at the Glasgow Hilton Hotel. Focusing on the public interest immunity
Public Interest Immunity
Public-interest immunity is a principle of English common law under which the English courts can grant a court order allowing one litigant to refrain from disclosing evidence to the other litigants where disclosure would be damaging to the public interest...

 certificate deployed by the British government, Köchler said:
"Whether those in public office like it or not, the Lockerbie trial has become a test case for the criminal justice system of Scotland. At the same time, it has become an exemplary case on a global scale – its handling will demonstrate whether a domestic system of criminal justice can resist the dictates of international power politics or simply becomes dysfunctional as soon as "supreme state interests" interfere with the imperatives of justice. (...) The fairness of judicial proceedings is undoubtedly a supreme and permanent public interest. If the rule of law is to be upheld, the requirements of the administration of justice may have to take precedence over public interests of a secondary order – such as a state's momentary foreign policy considerations or commercial and trade interests. The internal stability and international legitimacy of a polity in the long term depend on whether it is able to ensure the supremacy of the law over considerations of power and convenience."

Dr. Hans Koechler's two observer reports


IPO documents


United Nations documents


Selected media articles


Köchler's publications on Lockerbie


External links


See also


  • Pan Am Flight 103
    Pan Am Flight 103
    Pan Am Flight 103 was Pan American World Airways' third daily scheduled transatlantic flight from London Heathrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport...

  • Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial
    Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial
    The Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial began on 3 May 2000, 11 years, 4 months and 13 days after the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988...

  • Investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103
    Investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103
    The investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 began at 19:03 on December 21, 1988 when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. The perpetrators had intended the plane to crash into the sea, destroying any traceable evidence, but the late departure...

  • Pan Am Flight 103 conspiracy theories
  • Abdelbaset al-Megrahi
  • UTA Flight 772
    UTA Flight 772
    UTA Flight 772 of the French airline Union des Transports Aériens was a scheduled flight operating from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, via N'Djamena in Chad, to Paris CDG airport in France....

  • Global Justice or Global Revenge
    Global Justice or Global Revenge
    Global Justice or Global Revenge? International Criminal Justice at the Crossroads is a book by Austrian philosopher Hans Köchler, who was appointed by the United Nations as observer of the Lockerbie bombing trial in the Netherlands...

    ? by Hans Köchler