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Controversial play may move to Malta

Published: 16 Jan 2013 13:000 comments

A MALTESE theatre director has expressed an interest in staging an Alloa play which has been branded "despicable" by a woman whose daughter was murdered in the Lockerbie atrocity.

DRAMATIC: Stage shots from the Alman play and, below right, the dying Al Megrahi

As reported in last week's Advertiser, The Lockerbie Bomber - which depicts convicted and now deceased Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi as a victim - goes on show tomorrow (Thursday) for three nights at the Alman's Coach House Theatre amid a storm of controversy.

Its story centres on the belief that Megrahi was wrongly held responsible for the 1988 terrorist attack on Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York, which killed 270 people.

Malta-based Herman Grech has been in discussions with The Lockerbie Bomber's writer and director Alan Clark (59) about presenting the show in Valletta later this 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."

Megrahi remains the only person to be convicted for the attack.

He was convicted of murder on 31 January 2001 and was sentenced to life imprisonment in Scotland for putting the bomb on from Malta.

In August 2009 he was released by the Scottish government from Greenock prison on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He died almost three years later, at 60 years old, on 20 May 2012.

The harrowing play is set in the present day and looks at the tragedy from three different perspectives - a victim's family, journalists investigating the case, and the UK and US security services engaged in covering up what happened.

It highlights several questions in the Megrahi case - including a claim that evidence was suppressed following an alleged break-in at the Heathrow baggage area 16 hours before take-off and further theories that a fragment of the bomb found at Lockerbie did not come from a batch of timers sold to Libya

in 1985.

Alan's compelling writing also puts a spotlight on Maltese storekeeper Tony Gauci - a crucial witness for the prosecution who testified that he had sold Megrahi the clothing later found in the remains of the suitcase bomb.

At the trial, Gauci was said to have appeared uncertain about the exact date he sold the clothes in question, and was not entirely sure that it was Megrahi to whom they were sold.

Gauci was the only witness to link Megrahi directly to the improvised explosive device (IED) and it was later reported in October 2007 that he received a $2 million reward for testifying.

Alan said, "Since then compelling new evidence has come to light that the verdict was terribly flawed, 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."

Falkirk's Tryst Theatre presents The Lockerbie Bomber at the Alman's Coach House Theatre, Alloa, from January 17-19 at 8pm. Tickets are £10 and are available from the Alman Box Office on 07929 561311.

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