| The Pan Am 103
|Updated: March 19, 2002|
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18/03/2002 THE SCOTSMAN THE legal expert who brokered the Lockerbie trial is helping the Libyan government to lodge a fresh appeal against the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, it emerged yesterday. Professor Robert Black, a law lecturer at Edinburgh University, flew to Tripoli the day after Megrahi's appeal was rejected last week. He said he regarded the case as a miscarriage of justice because the court did not consider all the available evidence. "We have not seen the end of this case," Prof Black added. Thousands of people marched through the Libyan capital yesterday in protest at the decision of the appeal court judges to uphold the conviction of Megrahi. Riot police supervised demonstrations outside a UN office. A statement handed to a UN representative said Megrahi's life sentence "contradicts international laws, as it was handed as a result of political pressure aimed at settling account with the Libyan revolution."
Prof Black was invited to the country by the Libyan government's Lockerbie Committee, which is planning to lodge an appeal through the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. It was he who proposed the idea of trying the Lockerbie suspects in a neutral third country, which was the breakthrough which led to Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi agreeing to hand the two accused over for trial in the Netherlands. Megrahi was convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, resulting in the deaths of 270 people, and lost his appeal last week. Fresh doubts over his conviction were raised with claims that senior police officers covered up the discovery of important evidence in the wreckage of the Boeing 747.
Mary Boylan, 53, a retired Lothian and Borders Police officer, said she found a CIA identification badge among the debris but was told not to make a record of the find in her notebook. Megrahi was found guilty of loading an unaccompanied suitcase bomb in Malta that was later transferred on to the Pan Am aircraft, which exploded en route to New York. The Libyan government has said it will appeal the ruling to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights. Prof Black said: "I am sure that at some point they will actually make an application to the Scottish Commission which deals with miscarriages of justice. The commission could then refer it back to the appeal court.
"I predict the grounds for that would be that evidence is emerging that has not yet seen the light of day. There is a hell of a lot more evidence about Lockerbie that appeared at neither the trial nor the appeal." Libya, which is still subject to stringent UN sanctions over the Lockerbie bombing, faces a claim of up to £1.3 million compensation from relatives of each of the victims.
17/03/2002 Thousands of Libyans have protested against a Scottish appeals court decision to uphold a Lockerbie bombing conviction. Surrounded by anti-riot police the demonstrators gathered in front of the United Nations office in the capital Tripoli. In a statement handed to a UN representative they called on the international body to win the release of Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi. On Thursday he lost his appeal against the 2001 conviction which found him responsible for the bombing that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, killing 270. "The sentence contradicts international laws as it was handed as a result of political pressure aimed at settling account with the Libyan revolution," said the statement. The Libyan government has described the five-judge court's unanimous decision as a "political verdict" and vowed to continue efforts to free al-Megrahi.
14-18/03/2002 Below a handful of news items related to the appeal verdict. Click on link to read the full article:
14/03/2002 The Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has had his conviction upheld by an appeals court. The judges said "none of the grounds of the appeal are well -founded." Al Megrahi's wife Aisha, dressed entirely in black, collapsed in sobs as the ruling was read out. As Lord Cullen dismissed the appeal, al Megrahi himself, dressed in white Arab robes and a red fez, swallowed hard, once looking dazed.
Features news, interview, pictures, comments, reactions and is updated around the hour today.
06/03/2002 REUTERSIf the judges in the Lockerbie appeal in the Netherlands decide next week to let the accused walk free, a 13-year-long worldwide hunt for the perpetrators of the biggest mass murder in British history will have failed. Acquitting Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988, would mean 270 people were brutally killed and no one has been found guilty. But one man in particular will be delighted. A tireless campaigner against miscarriages of justice, Paul Foot, a veteran author and investigative journalist, says the trial in which Megrahi was convicted and condemned to life in prison was "monstrous", "idiotic" and "utterly corrupt".He says he'll never give up fighting for the verdict to be quashed.
"It's monstrous. The whole thing is so absolutely monstrous -- they created a case out of absolutely nothing at all," Foot says of the prosecutors in the trial under Scottish law in a Dutch court of Megrahi and his co-accused Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima. Megrahi was convicted in January 2001. Fahima was acquitted. In a past case, Foot's relentless campaigning helped secure the release in 1997 of three innocent men jailed for 18 years after they were wrongly convicted of a child killing. This time, his sights are set on the Scottish judiciary which convicted the Libyan of planting a bomb which killed 259 passengers, mostly Britons and Americans, and 11 on the ground.
Foot is convinced the wrong man is in jail, equally convinced that British and U.S. authorities investigating the bombing knew exactly who did do it, and adamant that immense political pressure forced justice into second place. "It was political from start to finish. They knew who did it and they let them off," he told Reuters. "They let them off because of the Gulf War. They needed Syria on board." To set out his case, Foot has published a 30-page special report on the Lockerbie investigation which looks closely at the political backdrop at the time. The report says Libya was never even mentioned as a possible suspect for more than a year after the December 1988 attack, since all clues pointed to the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC), backed by Iran and Syria, as the culprits. "At that stage (one year on)...there was not a jot of evidence to incriminate anyone outside the PFLP-GC or their paymasters," Foot writes.
"The forensic evidence...incriminated the PFLP. Police intelligence, top politicians and every journalist who investigated the story came to the same conclusion. There was one set of suspects, the PFLP-GC, and only two countries were implicated, Iran and Syria." He also points out that Iran had an obvious motive for the Lockerbie bombing -- revenge for an Iranian airbus shot down by an American warship in the Gulf a few months earlier. Foot argues that then U.S. President George Bush (senior) and then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher knew that Palestinian extremists backed by Iran and Syria had carried out the bombing. But with war against Iraq looming, it did not suit them politically to have that made public. "If the U.S. was to go to war in the Gulf, Iran would have -- at the least -- to be neutralised," Foot writes.
"More importantly, Arab support had to be found to bolster the U.S./UN forces preparing to invade Kuwait...and Syria was the obvious choice." By the start of the Gulf War both these things had happened. As a result, Foot says, all public talk of the PFLP-GC connection with the Lockerbie bombing suddenly disappeared from 1990, and slow but surely, Libya began to be touted around as a likely suspect. Ten years later, it was Libya, not Syria or Iran, that was in the dock at the Lockerbie trial at the special Camp Zeist court in the Netherlands. Some may dismiss Foot's report as a grand conspiracy theory -- or even a grand coalition of conspiracy theories. But his central view, that the Camp Zeist trial verdict which convicted Megrahi of the bombing was wrong, is one supported by some well placed and high-profile experts.
The team of lawyers and legal consultants which came together to appeal for Megrahi included Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz who defended O.J. Simpson, Plato Cacheris, who represented Monica Lewinsky, Clive Nicholls QC who represented General Pinochet in Britain, and Frank Rubino, whose has acted in the past for Panama's General Manuel Antonio Noriega. Rubino said after Megrahi's conviction he was sure the judges were not in control, but U.S. authorities were. "Sometimes judges feel they have an obligation to convict," he told a Scottish newspaper. "The verdict...is not supported by the evidence. From my studies of the trial, I feel it facilitated the U.S. government's control of the case."
And a United Nations international observer who monitored every moment of the court case -- which ran from may 5, 2000 until January 31, 2001 -- was blunt in his assessment. "The air of international power politics is present in the whole verdict of the panel of judges," Doctor Hans Koechler wrote in his report of the trial. "There is not one single piece of evidence linking the two accused to the crime," he said. "The opinion of the court is exclusively based on circumstantial evidence and on a series of highly problematic inferences." For Foot, the appeal on which a panel of five new judges is expected to rule on March 14 is a chance for the justice system as a whole to demonstrate its independence and stand up against the power of political pressure. But despite what he and others see as a plethora of reasons why they must do so, Foot does not believe the judges will have the guts to let Megrahi walk free.
"My instinct is no, they won't let him off," Foot says. "If they do I will rejoice. But if they don't, I will go on hammering away at them. This is something these judges will have to live with for the rest of their lives."
17/02/2002 THE SUNDAY HERALD Megrahi's appeal team ignored 'evidence' from key CIA investigator that claims Iran was behind PanAm 103 bombing. ONE of the CIA's leading Lockerbie bomb investigators has come forward with compelling evidence that Libya was not behind the downing of PanAm 103 which killed 270 people. Robert Baer, a retired senior CIA agent, offered to meet the defence team leading the appeal of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who was convicted last year of the bombing. However, his offer was not accepted and the new evidence never raised in court. The new evidence, according to Baer, shows Iran masterminded and funded the bombing; implicates the Palestinian terrorist unit, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), as the group behind the plot; and reveals that just two days after the December 21 1988 bombing the PFLP-GC received $11 million (£7.6m), paid into a Swiss bank account by Iran.
Legal experts say the new evidence should have been brought before the court, and are asking why Megrahi's defence didn't take up the offer. Megrahi's appeal, which took place at a special Scottish court sitting at Camp Zeist in Holland, adjourned on Thursday for judges to consider whether to overturn the original verdict. Baer claims he is breaking his silence now because of growing disillusionment with the CIA's counter-terrorist operations and the war on terror. Baer, an anti-terrorist specialist, was one of the key CIA officers investigating Lockerbie. He says the CIA received definitive evidence that the PFLP-GC struck a deal with Iranian intelligence agents in July 1988 to take down an American airliner. Baer also has details of an $11m payment made to the PFLP-GC. On December 23 1988 the money was paid into a bank account used by the terror group in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was transferred to another PFLP-GC account at the Banque Nationale de Paris and moved to the Hungarian Trade Development Bank.
A terrorist linked to the PFLP-GC, Abu Talb, who was later jailed for terrorist offences in Sweden, was also paid $500,000 (£350,000). The money went into an account in Talb's name in Frankfurt four months after the bombing, on April 25 1989. Germany was a key base for the PFLP-GC in the late 1980s. Baer has the number of at least one of these bank accounts. Talb and the PFLP-GC were to have been implicated by lawyers working for Megrahi and his co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, at the original trial, but little evidence was ever raised to show they were part of the Lockerbie plot. On legal advice Baer is not disclosing his Lockerbie records, but the Sunday Herald has seen CIA paperwork that supports his claims. British and US intelligence have always publicly denied that the PFLP-GC played a part in the Lockerbie plot, saying raids by German police two months before the Lockerbie bombing took the terror group out of action.
Baer says, however, that these arrests were a mere hiccup in PFLP-GC plans as other members of the German unit rem ained at large. This theory also fits with claims that the bomb began its journey in Frankfurt, rather than Malta, where Megrahi was based. PFLP-GC leader Hafez Dalkamoni and the group's chief bomb-maker, Marwan Khreesat, were arrested in Germany in October 1988 in possession of a Toshiba radio-cassette player containing a bomb. PanAm 103 flew from Frankfurt and was destroyed by a bomb built inside a Toshiba radio-cassette. Timers matching the one used in the Lockerbie device were sold to both Libya and the East German secret service, the Stasi, which had close links to the PFLP-GC. 'I don't know what components the bomb contained,' Baer said, 'but there was very reliable information from multiple sources that (the PFLP-GC) were running around between East and West Germany and Sweden, trying to get the operation back on track. It's conceivable that the Stasi supplied components during a trip to East Germany.' Baer said the components for the bomb were supplied by a terrorist known as Abu Elias, who was for a time the CIA's prime suspect but was never caught. 'He was the big centre of the investigation, but he was very elusive,' Baer said. Khreesat and Dalkamoni were on their way to meet Abu Elias when they were arrested in Germany. Abu Elias was a close associate of Abu Talb. Both lived in Sweden.
Talb had made a trip to Malta just weeks before the Lockerbie bombing. Clothes from a shop in Malta were packed in the suitcase which contained the PanAm 103 bomb. Baer also claims the CIA has irrefutable intelligence that Talb and Dalkamoni were Iranian agents and were on a government roll of honour for their services to the 'Islamic revolutionary struggle against the west'. Baer add ed: 'Although it was not specific, Dalkamoni's citation praised him for achieving Iran's greatest- ever strike against the west'. Iran had vowed 'the skies would rain with American blood' after a US battle cruiser, the USS Vincennes, accidentally shot down an Iranian Airbus over the Persian Gulf, killing 290 people, six months before the Lockerbie bombing. 'It doesn't take a genius to figure out where the $11m came from,' says Baer. He added that 'the information [would] be useful to the defence as much of it was of a type that would be admissible in court. Once the investigators had the timer evidence, which seemed to point to Libya, they stopped pursuing other leads -- that's the way most criminal investigations work. People sleep better at night if they think they have justice. Who wants an unsolved airplane bombing?'
Edinburgh University law professor Robert Black, the architect of the Lockerbie trial, said of Megrahi's defence not seeking to interview Baer: 'I don't know why they would act like this. Real hard evidence of a money transfer from Iran to the PFLP-GC is so supportive of the alternative theory behind the bombing that I'm at a loss to explain their actions. 'At the very least, you would interview the source of the information and make a decision once you have spoken to him. A lawyer's job is to provide a belt-and-braces defence for his client, so to refuse to even meet with Baer requires a lot of explaining.'
11.2-14.02/02 Evidence from six fresh witnesses fatally undermines the guilty verdict against the Libyan convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, his lawyer has told the last day of his appeal hearing. William Taylor urged a panel of five judges on Thursday to quash the life sentence passed on Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, arguing that new evidence about a break-in at London's Heathrow airport destroyed a key pillar of a shaky circumstantial case. A possible re-trial was also discussed with the judges. Finally, Lord Cullen promised to give at least seven days notice of when the court would give its decision. He said that this would not happen before the beginning of March.
LOCKERBIE BOMBING TRIAL WEEK APPEAL 4 (11/2-14/2, 2002)
10/02/2002 THE SUNDAY HERALD - Organisation for African Unity report claims original Camp Zeist judgement 'violates general principles of criminal law'
By Neil Mackay Home Affairs Editor
SCOTLAND'S justice system has been called into question by all 53 member states of the Organisation for African Unity over the 'legally indefensible' conviction of Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing. A report by the OAU's commission of jurists, who were dispatched to observe the original trial at a special Scottish court sitting at Camp Zeist in Holland, said the 'case against [Megrahi] cannot by any stretch of the imagination be said to have been proved ... [and] the entire conviction is based upon flawed premises'. Megrahi is fighting the conviction at an appeal court also sitting in Camp Zeist, presided over by five Scottish judges. The OAU, which represents the interests of African nations, also found the judgement 'violates the general principles of criminal law and procedure'.
Four senior jurists, the Hon Justice Ben Hlatshwayo from Zimbabwe, Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu of Ghana, Dr Zouheir Mdhaffar of Tunisa and Peter Kabatsi of Uganda, all recommended on behalf of the OAU that the appeal court 'ought to allow the appeal, set aside the sentence and discharge the appellant'. They all claim that the 'chances of the accused being freed on appeal [are] high'. The report came as Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, made a personal phone call of support to Megrahi in his cell in Camp Zeist. Last Sunday morning, Mandela told Megrahi he was 'indebted to' Colonel Gaddafi, who he referred to as 'Brother Leader', for the support he gave to him and the ANC during his imprisonment under the apartheid regime.
Megrahi thanked Mandela for meeting his family during a visit to Tripoli after the verdict last year. Megrahi also told Mandela he was confident the judges 'would observe his human rights and look at the facts and not just speculation and suspicions'. The OAU report says: 'The Commission has tremendous difficulties with the reasons given for convicting [Megrahi]. These difficulties are in the nature of procedural errors, substantive questions of law and findings of fact.' Megrahi's co-accused Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah was found not guilty at the end of the original trial.
The jurists say there was no evidence proving the Libyan Intelligence Service (JSO) was behind the attack on PanAm 103, which killed 270 people when it exploded over Lockerbie in December 1988. Despite this, the three trial judges presiding over the case accepted that the bomb plot was of Libyan origin and used this as part of their reasoning to convict Megrahi. The OAU casts doubt on the authenticity of a key piece of evidence found at the crash site which was used to convict Megrahi -- a fragment of the bomb timer. The jurists questioned why, if the timer was found in May 1989, one of the forensic scientists only forwarded a Polaroid photo of the fragment to investigators in September 1989 apologising for not sending a sample and citing 'shortness of time' as an excuse.
'The court dismissed any suggestion that the manner of discovery of this exhibit was not above suspicion,' they said. The jurists also said that no evidence was led which proved that Megrahi conspired to put the suitcase containing the bomb onboard the plane. 'The links to the accused ... were fraught with uncertainties,' they said. According to the court, the bomb was supposed to have been placed on board a plane in Malta before finally being loaded on to PanAm 103 in Heathrow. 'There was no evidence which tied the accused to the alleged introduction [of the bomb],' the report said, adding: 'It is obvious from the evidence that the court leaned heavily on the supposition that [Megrahi] must have been assisted by [Fhimah] in his capacity as station manager of Libyan Arab Airlines.
'However, the ... subsequent acquittal of [Fhimah] was tantamount to discounting any such supposed assistance ... This created a reasonable doubt that should have been resolved in favour of the accused. Yet as the judgement indicates, the court was nevertheless ready to go around that problem, brush it aside and stick to explanations that incriminated the accused.' The jurists are also critical of the court's failure to explore security slip-ups at the baggage facility at Heathrow. They also question the failure to explore 'other leads to terrorist groups operating at the time in Germany'. One alternative theory is that the bomb was placed onboard a flight in Frankfurt before being loaded on PanAm 103 at Heathrow.
The way in which the three trial judges -- Lords Sutherland, Cousfield and MacLean -- handled the identification evidence is described as 'most unsatisfactory'. The jurists' concerns centre around the trial's key witness, Tony Gauci, who owned a clothes shop on Malta. The suitcase containing the bomb was said to contain clothes bought from Gauci's store by Megrahi. Although Gauci's identification of Megrahi was contradictory and confused, it was used as a primary plank in his conviction. In September 1989, Gauci described the purchaser as taller than 6ft and about 50 years old. Neither description fits Megrahi. Gauci also picked out convicted Arab terrorist, Abo Talb, as the purchaser when shown a series of photographs.
Talb had visited Malta in late 1988, and was connected to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. A PFLP-GC safehouse in Germany was also raided in 1988 and found to have airline baggage tags, PanAm timetables and Toshiba radios -- the Lockerbie bomb was concealed in a Toshiba radio inside a suitcase. 'At no point, not even in court, did Mr Gauci positively identify [Megrahi] as the purchaser,' the report says. 'This evidence of identification falls far short of what is required in law.' On nine key parts of the murder charge against Megrahi, the jurists say that 'no evidence at all' was offered to support seven of them, another had 'scant evidence' put forward and in only one was 'adequate evidence' presented.
05.2-08.02/02 This week the court heard the Crown defending the guilty verdict of Al Megrahi. However, two of the appeal judges, namely Lord Osborn and Lord Kirkwood, seemed to be alerted about several main questions arisen by the defence QC Bill Taylor in his submissions last week. Such were the question of the testimony of Tony Gauci, as well as the issue of an alleged unaccompagnied bag in Frankfurt and the question of a break-in into Heathrow Airport a day before the departure of Pan Am 103 in 1988. Following the request of Bill Taylor, the judges allowed the submission of new evidence and testimony into the appeal.
LOCKERBIE BOMBING TRIAL WEEK APPEAL 3 (05/2-08/2, 2002)
05/02/2002 MEBO.CH There definitely was no interline-baggage from Air Malta flight KM 180 to Pan Am 103A at Frankfurt on December 21,1988
The important evidence from the trial at Kamp van Zeist 2001 the bag B 8849 loaded on BanAm 103A gate B 41 was definitly NOT an interline baggage from Malta Airways KM 180.
The bag B 8849 was on KLK computer registrated at hour 13,07,21, December 1988 and was loaded 15,23,on flight PA 103A at gate B41 online for PA 103A at gate B41 online for BA 103B at London Heathrow.
KIK combuter excerpt B 8849 F1042 S 0009+Z 1307 TO--HS33+Z 1517,,,, The no S0009 bag shows that it was a Pan Am -- Pan Am online baggage , not a interline from KM 180
The coders work shet Mr. Koca (deceased) is wrong and not authoritative, Details are following ...
Updated by H. A. A.
Safia will return tomorrow and continue updating.
Additionally updated: February 10, 2002, by Safia
03/02/2002 MALTASTAR.COM - Joe Mifsud - EXCLUSIVE A key factor in the Lockerbie appeal may turn out to be the date in which Christmas lights went on in the Sliema streets back in 1988. maltastar.com has learnt that official documents substantiate the defence’s version. A top member of Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi’s defence team was in Malta to meet Enemalta officials on what is being considered as extremely important new evidence. There seems to be an understanding that the clothes that were found in the suitcase that contained the bomb on board the Pan Am flight had been bought from an outlet known as Mary’s House in Sliema.
Tony Gauci (pictured left), the owner of the outlet, said that the person who bought the clothes resembled Al-Megrahi. Furthermore, the prosecution has insisted on the point that the clothes were bought on 7 December 1988. This is the only day in which the Libyan was in Malta during that period. On the other hand, the defence insists that the person who bought the clothes did so on 23 November 1988. The accused was not in Malta at the time. This would point substantiate the arguments made by the defence. When testifying in the trial, Mr Gauci said that he recalled that on the day of the sale, Christmas lighting decorations were being put up in the streets.
Enemalta, the national energy provider, keeps records of such streetlighting. According to the corporation’s records, back in 1988 Christmas lights in Sliema went on as from 30 November. This would point substantiate the arguments made by the defence. maltastar.com has learnt that a senior defence team member, Alistair Duff was in Malta on Sunday and Monday in relation with this issue. Dr Duff had a meeting with a high-ranking Enemalta official at the corporation’s headquarters in Marsa. This same official may be asked to testify during the appeal being held in Camp Zeist if the five judges presiding the court accept to hear new evidence. The court has already heard new evidence of two men who used to work at Heathrow airport. The two men gave evidence that according to the defence team shows that the bomb originated from Heathrow rather than Luqa airport.
03/02/2002 MALTASTAR.COM Lamin Fhimah, the Libyan who was found not guilty in the Lockerbie trial told maltastar.com that his friend Abdel Baset Al Megrahi is innocent too. Maltese lawyers Manuel Mallia, Giannella Caruana Curran and Mario Demarco will form part of Al Megrahi’s defence team. Speaking to maltastar.com from his home in Suq-il Gimgha in Tripoli, Lamin Fhimah said that Al Megrahi is innocent. Fhimah was found not guilty at the trial held in Camp Zeist, the Netherlands.
"My friend is innocent just like me. He is being held under arrest for nothing. They kept him away from his family. I hope that he will be back here soon.Believe me, Baset is innocent just like me," said Mr Fhimah. The former Malta-based Libyan Arab Airlines manager said that he was happy that the trial had provided evidence that he had not abused of Maltese hospitality. Nevertheless, he was sad because he had left Al Megrahi behind him. Lamin Fhimah said that he is waiting for the appeal to be concluded in order to come to Malta and thank those who always believed in his innocence.
03/02/2002 SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY Veteran Lockerbie campaigner Dr Jim Swire has met with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to thank him for his part in bringing the two Libyans accused of the atrocity to trial. The two came face to face in Amsterdam last Monday after a meeting was secretly brokered between senior UN officials and the British government. Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the bombing, revealed he had taken the opportunity to contact Annan after hearing the UN chief was in the Netherlands for the wedding of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Maxima Zorreguieta, a former New York investment banker. The morning meeting was arranged at the prestigious Amstel International Hotel in Amsterdam after Swire faxed a letter to the UN’s New York office and enlisted the help of Britain’s ambassador to the Netherlands.
Swire said: "I found out that he was attending the wedding and thought that it was too good an opportunity to miss. "I wanted to tell him how much the victims’ families appreciated the vital role that he played in negotiating with Libya to have the two put on trial. I have wanted to thank him personally for making that possible for a few years. "He impressed me because he clearly knew about the contribution our campaign had been making to getting the trial to go ahead. "He said he found our search for truth, without signs of fanaticism or without seeking revenge, very helpful."
With Swire at the half-hour meeting was the high-profile Lockerbie campaigner Reverend John Mosey and a Dutch supporter of the Lockerbie justice campaign. They have campaigned tirelessly to know the truth behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which blew up over Lockerbie in December 1988, killing 270 people. Swire added: "For years I have wanted to thank Kofi Annan and Nelson Mandela for the direct part they played in making all of this possible."
28.1-01.02/02 Bill Taylor, QC, for the defence, talked about broken padlocks, fake passports and unattended conveyor belts this Thursday. He spent most of the time in todays session in cour telling the judges about a break+in into the luggage area of Pan Am 103 at Heathrow Airport in the night between December 20 and December 21st 1988. ``The new evidence is of such significance that the verdict, reached in ignorance of its existence, must be regarded as a miscarriage of justice,'' counsel he told the five appeal judges. The court then took an administrative break until Tuesday February 5.
LOCKERBIE BOMBING TRIAL WEEK APPEAL 2 (28/1-01/2, 2002)
29/02/2002 MALTASTAR.COM by Joe Mifsud A senior member of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi’s defence team left Malta on Tuesday morning after three days of intensive work on the island. Mr Megrahi is appealing from a sentence of twenty years imprisonment after being found guilty of masterminding the Pan Am disaster on Lockerbie. Dr Alistair Duff, a Scottish lawyer, had several meetings with the Maltese lawyers who form part of the defence team, namely Manuel Mallia, Gianella Caruana Curran and Mario Demarco. In the meantime, an investigation has been demanded following a claim that a key Maltese witness in the Lockerbie trial enjoyed police hospitality in Scotland.
Evidence given by Tony Gauci, the owner of Mary’s House outlet in Sliema (pictured right), helped convict the former Libyan intelligence officer. It is being alleged that Mr Gauci was brought to Scotland five or six times, taken salmon fishing and hill walking, and put up in an expensive hotel. Security with Gauci has been round the clock and when we tried to take his photo, a member of the security branch assigned with him told us to leave him in peace. Mr Gauci is also said to have been taken to Lockerbie, to see where the wreckage of the bombed Pan Am airliner landed in 1988, before last year's trial got under way. Labour MP Tam Dalyell told The Guardian that he would raise the issue as a matter of urgency with the prime minister and foreign secretary.
A spokesman for Mr Megrahi’s legal team told maltastar.com that a rebuttal of Mr Gauci's evidence would form a plank of its case. The spokesman said that Mr Gauci was the sole witness to link al-Megrahi directly to the bombing of Pan Am 103. Unlike in the trial in 2000 before a three-judge court, the defence rather than the prosecution bears the burden of proof before the five appellate judges. Mr Gauci had testified that he "resembled a lot" a man who bought clothes from Mr Gauci's shop that were later discovered to have been packed around the bomb. Our colleague Ian Ferguson reported in The Mail on Sunday that an undercover investigator had travelled to Malta and secretly taped conversations with Mr Gauci, owner of Mary's House clothes shop in Sliema.
Mr Gauci claimed that police had flown him to Scotland on five or six occasions, and taken him to Lockerbie to be shown the damage. He also claimed that the hospitality of the Scottish police had been extended to four others in his family. Gauci is reported to have said he was taken into the mountains, visiting Aviemore ski resort, fly-fishing for salmon, and bird watching. On at least one occasion he stayed at the Hilton in Glasgow. In the meantime, maltastar.com has learnt that Mr Gauci is in Scotland at the moment. Scottish investigators are paying his mobile calls and have had an alarm installed for him at his house. The investigators also rented a car for the key witness.
The Scottish investigators have also given him pigeon eggs, since Mr Gauci is very keen on pigeon racing.
Robert Black, professor of law at Edinburgh university told maltastar.com that Mr Gauci's trips needed to be investigated during the appeal, adding that he knew of no other Scottish murder trial witness being taken on fishing trips by police. Unlike the trial in 2000 before a three-judge court, the defence rather than the prosecution bears the burden of proof before the five appellate judges.
27.1-02 ANANOVA PRESS Veteran MP Tam Dalyell is vowing to seek answers to claims the key witness in the Lockerbie trial took holiday trips to Scotland organised by police officers. The Mail on Sunday reports it has obtained secret tapes in which Tony Gauci claims he was flown from his home in Malta to Scotland for fishing, hillwalking and bird-watching trips. He also claims to have been taken to Lockerbie to be shown the damage caused when a bomb exploded on board Pan Am flight 103 on December 21, 1988.
Mr Gauci's testimony was vital in securing the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who was jailed for life last year following a trial at Camp Zeist in Holland. Mr Dalyell, who has campaigned on Lockerbie since the bombing took place, said he would table questions in the House of Commons demanding answers from Mr Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. He said: "If Gauci was brought to Scotland before the trial at Zeist, why were the defence and the judges not told? At the very least, transparency and explanation were vital.
"The fact that it seems to have been hush-hush naturally arouses suspicion of subversion of witnesses. If Gauci came after the trial, what is the purpose of an ongoing relationship? Who in the police and the Crown Office knew? Who paid out of what funds?" A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police today said: "We have a policy not to comment on issues concerning witness protection. "Furthermore, it is inappropriate for us to comment on any case where an appeal is being heard."
Al Megrahi's appeal hearing, before a panel of five judges headed by Lord Cullen, resumes on Monday.
27.1-02 Below a handpick of Lockerbie Appeal-related articles from UK Weekend papers:
23.1-25.01/02 On the third day of the appeal hearing for Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, Presiding judge Lord Cullen upbraided defense attorney William Taylor for using ``strong language'' when the lawyer accused the the three-judge trial court of disregarding conflicting testimony by Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper. Reading from the record of the nine-month trial, Taylor cited ambiguities in Gauci's account about the exact date when a man resembling al-Megrahi was in the shop, contradicting himself on whether Christmas decorations were already up.
LOCKERBIE BOMBING TRIAL WEEK APPEAL 1 (23/1-25/1, 2002)
23/01/2002 ANANOVA (UK) The White House denies it is close to a deal which will end its sanctions against Libya imposed in the wake of the Lockerbie bombing. American media reports claim Washington is close to accepting a compensation package worth up to £4.1 billion from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi for the relatives of those killed when Flight 103 was bombed.In return, the country will remove it from its list of "state sponsors" of terrorism, clearing the way for the lifting of sanctions and relations between the two countries returning to normal.
But, President George Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, says although there had been talks, which also involve British Government officials, there is no imminent deal."There have been conversations, but Libya knows what is has to do," said the spokesman. "And that is to follow the United Nations policies about paying reparations for the victims of the attack at Lockerbie, as well as apologise for the attack. And that has not yet taken place."A senior American official met Libyan counterparts in London two weeks ago, the State Department says.
His meeting came after a first encounter in London in which Libyan officials were urged to take responsibility for the bombing and compensate the relatives of the 270 killed in the explosion. The report, in USA Today newspaper, says American officials now believe Libya "understood the need" to acknowledge it was behind the terrorist attack and are willing to pay compensation. The report came after a claim in the Wall Street Journal that Libya had signalled it may compensate victims and claim responsibility after all legal proceedings are over.The appeal of convicted bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi has began at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, and its end could be the final legal step surrounding the bombing.
22/01/2002 USA TODAY The United States and Libya are close to a deal that could remove Libya from a U.S. list of terrorist sponsors and require the government of Moammar Gadhafi to pay as much as $6 billion in compensation for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday. Another senior U.S. official said Libya ''understood the need'' to accept responsibility for the bombing, which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans. The final decision about removing U.S. sanctions rests with President Bush, the official said.
Assistant Secretary of State William Burns met twice in London in recent months with a Libyan delegation that included the head of Libyan intelligence, Musa Kusa, who is suspected of involvement in the Pan Am bombing and other terrorist acts. The Clinton administration initiated discussions with Kusa in 1999 after Libya turned over two suspects for trial. Libya has been on the State Department's list of terrorism sponsors since its inception in 1979. The others are Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
In New York, Lee Kreindler, a lawyer for relatives suing Libya for damages, said, ''I am optimistic about a settlement.'' However, Libyan officials say a final deal would not be struck before Megrahi's appeal is concluded. Movement toward a deal has outraged some relatives of the U.S. victims and upset some Bush administration officials who say they fear Gadhafi is still trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Libya experts counter that it is important at a time of rising anti-Americanism in the Arab world to show that the United States will reward a Muslim country for changing its behavior. The latest State Department report on terrorism says there has been no indication of Libyan support for anti-U.S. terrorism abroad in more than a decade. Also, since Sept. 11, Gadhafi has been among the most vocal Arab leaders in denouncing terrorism and supporting the U.S. retaliation against terrorist leader Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, says David Mack, a former State Department official. Libya also has provided intelligence on the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an al-Qaeda affiliate that tried to assassinate Gadhafi in 1996.
U.S. officials caution that the mercurial Gadhafi could always change his mind. Even so, Libya is eager for an end to a U.S. ban on investment and trade with the North African nation and hopes to see U.S. oil companies return. Susan Cohen, who lost her daughter, Theodora, 20, on the Pan Am flight, says she will oppose any deal that fails to hold Gadhafi personally responsible or detail how the crime was committed. ''I think it is an absolute disgrace that the first country that would get off the terrorist list is the country that blew up an American plane,'' she says.
22/01/2002 THE MIRROR (UK) FRESH doubts over a key piece of evidence could see the Lockerbie bomber walk free from his appeal. Despite a ruling from a Swiss judge, intelligence agents have refused to allow trial witness Edwin Bollier look at photographs he was shown in 1990. Bollier, of electronics firm Mebo, was shown a picture of a timer device made by his firm and said to have detonated the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103, killing 270 people in 1988. He insists the photos he was shown at the trial last year were not the ones he saw originally. He believes the 1990 images were of a timer supplied to East German secret police, which would disprove the Libyan link to the bombing. Bollier said: "They have told me no such photograph exists.
"The fragment I first saw was never active. There was no soldering wire attached. It could not have detonated a bomb." Convicted bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi's begins this week and is expected to last for up to six weeks. It is understood that the origin of the crucial fragment will be just one of 14 grounds of appeal raised by his legal team. The fresh doubts will fuel rumours that the fragment could have been planted by US investigators to implicate Libya.
22/01/2002 THE GUARDIAN When the prisoner leaves his cell tomorrow to appear in court for the appeal against his conviction, the endgame of the most expensive trial and extensive investigation in British criminal history will have begun. So far the bill has reached around £84m and it continues to rise at the rate of £2m every month.
Abdel Baset al-Megrahi continues to protest his innocence of the biggest act of mass murder Britain has ever seen - the destruction of PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie on December 21 1988. Tomorrow his team of lawyers must begin proving it; if they fail, he faces a minimum of 20 years in effective isolation in Glasgow's Barlinnie prison. His jail cell - the subject of enormous security precautions and UN regulations - has already been built: staff at the jail call it Gadafy's cafe. If he is to avoid this cell - as his co-accused Al-Amin Khalifah Fhimah avoided the neighbouring cell built for him in Barlinnie when he was acquitted on all charges - his lawyers will have to convince the five new judges that the82-page judgme nt given by the original trial judges is fatally flawed.
The three judges who heard the case against Megrahi conceded that it was circumstantial, there was no "smoking gun" linking him to the 270 murders, but they were certain of the Libyan's guilt. "There is nothing in the evidence which leaves us with any reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the first accused," they said. Even those who say Megrahi should never have been convicted believe his lawyers will have an uphill struggle in convincing the appeal judges to overturn the verdict of their peers. "The burden of proof at the appeal stage switches to the appellant," said Robert Black QC, the Edinburgh law professor who is the original architect of the trial. "There are many technical grounds for an appeal, but at the end of the day these technical matters are not enough in themselves. "They are going to have to succeed on the crucial point that these judges were simply wrong in law. Not an easy task."
Exactly what the grounds of appeal will be are unclear. Although the five appeal judges, led by Lord Cullen, have already received outline written arguments, they have not been made public. "Given the complexity of the legal issues and evidence in the Lockerbie trial, it is difficult to anticipate what these grounds will be," said Clare Connelly, of Glasgow University's Lockerbie trial briefing unit. "However, it is clear that inadequate representation or insufficiency of evidence will not be argued."
Although some newspapers have made much of the testimony of a Heathrow security guard - never heard at the trial - that PanAm's security was breached around the time of the bombing, this is unlikely to add much to the appeal. In cross-examination, Megrahi's lawyers, led by William Taylor QC, highlighted many problems with Heathrow's security. But this was not enough to convince the judges that Megrahi was innocent.
For Professor Black, the key to any acquittal may lie in two points. Firstly, he believes the prosecution never proved the bomb started its journey in Malta; if it did not, the case against Megrahi falls. Then there is what he calls the meteorological evidence. Investigators deduced from the dates of football matches that Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper who said he sold the clothing which was housed in the same Samsonite suitcase as the bomb to a man who Megrahi "resembled a lot", sold the clothes on one of two days. It is alleged that on only one of these days was Megrahi in Malta. On that day, records show it was not raining, but the man who bought the clothes from Mr Gauci also bought an umbrella to protect himself from the rain. On the second date, when it is alleged Megrahi was not in Malta, it was raining.
Whatever the grounds of the appeal, they will soon be widely known. The BBC has been given permission to broadcast the trial and plans to relay it live on the internet. It is unlikely, however, to rival the OJ Simpson trial for drama. The Lockerbie appeal will be concerned overwhelmingly with intricate legal argument. Any new witnesses cannot be filmed. The only hope for gripping TV is for the judges to continue the grand tradition of Scottish appeal court benches of haranguing lawyers. Each night of the appeal, Megrahi will go back to his cell alone: he is rumoured to be afflicted by loneliness since Mr Fhimah left Camp Zeist.
He enjoys certain privileges: access to his family, Arabic satellite television, an exercise bike, Halal food. Many of these will continue if he is transferred to Barlinnie. But for the world's most expensive prisoner the thought of 20 years in a Glasgow jail must be daunting.
21/01/2002 REUTERS U.S. relatives of victims in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing (news - web sites) will attend court hearings on an appeal by a convicted Libyan agent this week still haunted by their loss and security lapses they believe contributed to the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. In the 13 years since Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York was blown out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland, by a bomb planted in a suitcase, relatives of the 270 victims, including 189 Americans, have campaigned tirelessly for better airline and airport security.
``Had we paid attention to the Pan Am 103 bombing as a country, particularly with regard to airport security and steeling ourselves for this kind of terrorist act, we probably would have been able to handle the situation, although I'm not saying we could have avoided it,'' said Kathleen Flynn, whose 21-year-old son John died on the Pan Am jumbo jet on Dec. 21, 1988. A Scottish court will convene on Wednesday at Camp Zeist, a former U.S. military base in the Netherlands, to hear an appeal filed by Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, found guilty of murder by Scottish judges in January 2001 and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the Lockerbie bombing.
``We think the case is strong against Megrahi and hopefully the verdict won't be reversed. We are expecting the verdict will not be reversed,'' said Rosemary Wolfe, of Alexandria, Virginia, who lost a 20-year-old daughter, Miriam, in the bombing.``We don't think anything has changed.'' One thing that has changed for the U.S. relatives is the legacy of the Lockerbie bombing, destined to be linked in history with the Sept. 11 hijack attacks on New York and Washington. After the Lockerbie bombing, relatives' groups helped establish a President's Commission on Aviation Security. But many of its recommendations were not carried out, contributing to lapses that led to the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings.
`I felt like the world fell in on me that day,'' Wolfe said of the Sept. 11 attacks that killed more than 3,000 people when hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York, the Pentagon near Washington and a Pennsylvania field.``It just seemed like all the efforts we tried to make were in vain. The level of security and intelligence weren't what they should have been.'' Bob Monetti, president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 and an advocate for stricter airport security, said a program started in the United States last week to match luggage with passengers boarding planes, was ``a good start'' to improving security. ``Obviously, there are people willing to commit suicide to kill other people and this doesn't prevent that, but it does prevent people from blowing up a plane without being on it,'' said Monetti, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, who lost his son Rick, 20, in the bombing and expected to attend the appeal.
Many of the American families bristle at any moves to welcome Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi (news - web sites) back into the international fold after years of isolation. Although Gaddafi condemned the Sept. 11 attacks, Libya remains on a U.S. blacklist of countries it believes support terrorism. The American victims' families were expected to pursue a civil action against Libya for damages, but some relatives rejected the idea of accepting compensation from Gaddafi. ``We have made very clear to the State Department and everybody that the issue is Gaddafi's acceptance of responsibility, that he really come clean ...,'' said Susan Cohen, whose daughter Theodora, 20, was killed in the bombing. ``This is not about money, we will pursue this in the courts if we don't get that kind of thing and we don't care whether it's 10 bucks or 10 mil(lion).''