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[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 20 - July 22, 1988
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Print Article 
Published 2008-07-23 07:16 (KST)   

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Friday, July 22, 1988

"The downing of an Iranian passenger plane by an American warship on July 3 was a turning point."
--Hojatolislam Hashemi Rafsanjani, speaker of the Iranian parliament and acting commander of the armed forces

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On this day in 1988, around the world, let alone in Iran, people wonder why Khomeini has accepted a cease-fire with Iraq, although he had always made it very clear that he would never condone such an accord, which he had described as a crime against Islam. But despite eight years of great suffering, it would appear that Iranians are denied an answer to such a simple, yet highly important, question.

"We should not ask why and how, not create more problems for the society," Rafsanjani argued on Thursday.

A US State Department official admitted today that the decision of Tehran to accept UN Resolution 598 had been totally unanticipated.

"But the decision was understandable because Iraq's use of chemical weapons had frightened many Iranians and because Iran increasingly saw itself as being at war with the United States," the official said.

"Iranians felt they were more and more at war with the United States," a State Department official confirmed.

In April, the United States Navy sank six Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf. The same month, US forces destroyed two Iranian oil platforms. On July 3, the Navy cruiser Vincennes shot down an Iranian jet, killing 290.

Of course, Ayatollah Khomeini, who is 88 years old, is also well aware of popular discontent with endless war and its disastrous consequences for the economy.

"He came to a realization, knowing he is ill, that he had to do certain things to insure the survival of the revolution," said Robin B. Wright, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The USS Vincennes accident also demonstrated very clearly how utterly friendless Tehran was in this world.

"When Iranians went to the Security Council and other international bodies with what they thought was a cast-iron case to obtain a denunciation of the United States and found they couldn't, that brought home to them, in a dramatic way, how utterly isolated and friendless they were in the world," said Bernard Lewis, professor emeritus of Near East studies at Princeton University.

Saddam Hussein, who had last year welcomed Resolution 598, now insists on direct talks with the US and Iran to ensure that this renewed diplomatic effort will lead to a durable peace, and not just a truce.

The demand has angered the Security Council and Iran's representative, Mohammed Jafaar Mahallati, has pointed out that directs talks have never been a precondition to accepting the term of Resolution 598.

In order to resolve the issue, Iran and Iraq have agreed to send their foreign ministers to New York to meet with UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar.

On Friday, 500 US scientists pledge to boycott Pentagon germ-warfare research.

Back to the Present

This week, I received copy of a letter from Dr. Hans Koechler, international observer at the Lockerbie trial, addressed to British Foreign Secretary David Miliband concerning misleading information on the foreign office's Web site and the adverse effect of Miliband's issuance of a public interest immunity (PII) certificate on the new Lockerbie appeal.

The beginning of the letter reads: "I regret having to contact you again in the Lockerbie case -- a matter that should have been resolved by now (almost twenty years after the tragic event) on the basis of the rule of law. Allow me, first, to refer to the Libya page on the web site of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office."

The section related to the midair explosion of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie states, inter alia, that "Al-Megrahi was found guilty and Fhimah not proven [sic]." While the information concerning Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi is correct, the information concerning Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah is wrong. The accurate words in the case of the verdict reached on Fhimah would be "not guilty."

Koechler is entirely correct as one can easily verify from a reading of the official transcript, pages 10235 to 10237.

THE CLERK: Call the diet, Her Majesty's Advocate against Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah.

Take your seat, gentlemen, please.

My Lords, have you reached a verdict in respect of each accused on the second alternative charge as amended?

LORD SUTHERLAND: We have.

THE CLERK: Would you give me, please, your verdict in respect of the second accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah.

LORD SUTHERLAND: Not guilty.

THE CLERK: Is that, My Lords, unanimous, or by a majority?

LORD SUTHERLAND: Unanimous.

THE CLERK: I will now record the verdict, My Lords.
Earlier this month, professor Robert Black e-mailed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office pointing out that the verdict on Fhimah was in fact not guilty. As I write this piece, the error has not yet been corrected. The Libya page on the Web site still contains the following information:

"The Lockerbie trial began on 3 May 2000. On 31 January 2001 Al-Megrahi was found guilty and Fhimah not proven." Quosque tandem abutere patientia nostra?
The letter was prompted by an e-mail sent by Patrick Haseldine to professors Hans Kochler and Black.

References

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Libya Web Site

Hans Koechler

Robert Black

Patrick Haseldine

"Topics of the Times; Ask Not, Only Weep," July 22, 1988.

"Iran-Iraq War: Eight Brutal Years," July 22, 1988.

"Iran Action Linked to Anti-War Mood," July 22, 1988.

"U.N. Presses Iraq to Stop Blocking a Gulf Cease-Fire," July 22, 1988.

--

Ludwig De Braeckeleer has a Ph.D. in nuclear sciences. Ludwig teaches physics and international humanitarian law. He blogs on "The GaiaPost."
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ludwig De Braeckeleer

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