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Maltese Interest In New Lockerbie Play

A MALTESE theatre director has expressed an interest in staging The Lockerbie Bomber.

Malta-based Herman Grech is in discussions with writer Alan Clark about presenting the play in Valletta later this year.

The bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie killed 270 people and was the worst terrorist atrocity in the UK. Now, for the first time, the horrific tragedy has been brought to the stage in this new work which attempts to lift the veil of secrecy thrown over the bombing by successive Governments and security services. The Libyan, Al-Megrahi, the only person to be convicted of carrying out the atrocity, died last year.

Mr Grech, who is also Head of Media at The Times of Malta, said: "The play struck me because it recalls the bombing of the aircraft in its vivid, horrific detail. But most of all, the script challenges the audience into thinking whether, beyond the odd newspaper headline, this could have been one of the grossest miscarriages of justice of our times.

“I have also found it ironic that while the Maltese government has maintained that the bomb never departed from the island's airport, it has remained reluctant to challenge the accusations against Megrahi."

Alan Clark said: “Mr Grech and I have had preliminary discussions about performances in Malta. It’s especially interesting because Malta has particular relevance to Lockerbie, an angle that the play examines.

“The Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci identified Megrahi, the only man convicted of the atrocity, as resembling the man who bought clothes in his shop. Megrahi was at Malta’s Luqa Airport on the day of the bombing. It’s alleged the bomb was put on a feeder flight at Luqa which went to Frankfurt and then to London Heathrow before detonating over Lockerbie. Following the bombing, a small fragment of printed circuit board was found embedded in a scrap of the Maltese clothing. After Megrahi was convicted, Tony Gauci and his brother were paid an alleged $3m for their evidence by the US Department of Justice “Rewards for Justice” programme. So Malta is absolutely central to the case.”

Clark continued: “It’s worth pointing out that the trial judges had problems with how the suitcase containing the bomb got loaded at Malta. In their determination, they said: “The absence of an explanation as to how the suitcase was taken into the system at Luqa is a major difficulty for the Crown case but after taking full account of that difficulty, we remain of the view that the primary suitcase began its journey at Luqa.”

He added: “Since then, compelling new evidence has come to light that the verdict was terribly flawed – the Heathrow break-in, the bomb timer fragment, the view of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission that there were six separate grounds where there may have been a miscarriage of justice. So it seems to me the only way the matter can be satisfactorily resolved is by having an independent public inquiry, not into Lockerbie itself, but specifically into the prosecution of the case – as allegations of evidence fabricated and evidence withheld continue to be made.

“I hope performances of the play, both here and in Malta, help us move towards such an inquiry.”

The play has been seen and welcomed by members of the Justice for Megrahi group. Founded in November 2008, the campaign maintains that the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing was a miscarriage of justice.

One of its members is former Police Superintendent Iain McKie who was at the premiere. “This is a challenging and thought-provoking play that brings the human suffering and political chicanery behind the tragedy of Lockerbie to vivid and dramatic life. It should be required viewing for every Scot as a reminder of a disaster that has become an indelible stain on the reputation of Scotland and its justice system."

And Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the attack, commented: “I welcome the play as it tries to shed light on what happened when the investigation went off the rails. I believe Megrahi was wrongly identified.”

Tryst is staging The Lockerbie Bomber in Alloa’s Alman Theatre from January 17-19 at 8pm. Call the Box Office on 07929 561 311 for tickets. - Tryst Theatre is a registered Scottish charity, No SC003303