"So far there are no reports of survivors. It's believed there have been a number of casualties on the ground as well"
SHELLEY: At three minutes past seven on the evening of 21st December 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in the sky over Lockerbie. All 259 passengers and crew were killed along with eleven residents of the town. Within days of the tragedy it was confirmed the explosion was caused by a bomb. The investigation which followed into who planted it was the most expensive piece of detective work in criminal history. For the victims' families that investigation was never going to replace those they lost, but they had hoped it would at least provide them with some answers. Instead as the ninth anniversary of the bombing approaches parents are still left wondering if those who murdered their children will ever be punished.
|Dan Cohen: lost his daughter|
SHELLEY: It's the biggest criminal trial that Scotland will never hold. Two Libyans have stood accused for almost six years of planting and detonating the bomb which destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie murdering 270 people. But it's unlikely that the suspects will ever see the inside of a Scottish courtroom. Although Britain and America both insist any trial must be held here or in the US, neither country has an extradition treaty with Libya. And Libya will only give the suspects up for trial if it's held in a neutral country, like Holland. There's no sign of a break in this deadlock. So in the absence of a trial Frontline has asked one of Britain's top barristers to examine the evidence against the suspects. Michael Mansfield QC is no stranger to controversy. He's defended high profile appeal cases and secured the release of the Birmingham Six and the Bridgewater Three.
|Michael Mansfield QC: 'murder case'|
SHELLEY: So who would have had reason in 1988 to carry out the bombing. Certainly Libya, and still is, a sworn enemy of both Britain and the United States. In 1986 the US launched air attacks on Tripoli from a British base. Forty-three people were killed in the attack, including Colonel Gaddaffi's thirteen-month-old daughter. But the Libyans weren't the only ones with a grudge. Throughout the eighties a whole host of Middle Eastern terrorist groups were attacking Western targets. Syria was particularly active in training and funding terrorist groups. But it was Iran who fell under the spotlight in the immediate aftermath of the Lockerbie bombing.
HAZHIR TEIMOURIAN (Middle East Expert): Iran was without any doubt the most active responser of terrorism in the world at that time. It was, for most of 1988 engaged in war with Iraq and even after cease-fire was reached in August of 1988 with Iraq there were pressures on Iran from Western countries to make concessions to Iraq and therefore Iran was still furious and looking for excuses and possibilities to hit back.
|Iranians protest over the downed Iranian airbus|
HAZHIR TEIMOURIAN: The Iranians were completely united in the hatred of Westerners, particularly the Americans. They believed that the downing of that aircraft was directly ordered by America to bring pressure upon them. Some Government ministers in Teheran swore that they would avenge that atrocity, and there were reports at the time that a contract had gone out to any radical group in the Middle East who could bring down an American airliner in revenge.
SHELLEY: When Pan Am 103 was brought down suspicious immediately fell upon a terrorist group based in Syria and backed by Iran. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command is led by Ahmed Jibril. Just two months before Lockerbie a PFLPGC cell was rounded up in Germany in a police operation. The group was apparently in the final stages of preparing to bomb an airliner. They had a Toshiba radio packed with Semtex, and a cache of arms was found inside the group's flat. The cell's bomb maker, Marwen Khreesat was among those arrested.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO (Former CIA Head of Counter Terrorism): One of the targets we knew was a Spanish airliner, another one apparently was going to be aimed at an American airliner, American troops in West Germany, possibly British troops in West Germany were also likely targets. So that group was a focus of intense Western intelligence interest in the period leading up to December of 1988.
SHELLEY: Among the cache of arms discovered in the flat were rifles, grenades, mortars and five kilos of Semtex. German police arrested fourteen men. However, within the month, all but two had been released, including the bomb maker Khreesat.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO: I think everyone breathed a sigh of relief and said "it's stopped". Two months later Lockerbie happens, and so naturally the first suspect for it was the PFLP-GC group, immediate speculation centred on the possibility of one of the bombs had gotten away, one of the operatives had escaped the German net, and perhaps had carried out the operation.
SHELLEY: So Ahmed Jibril and the PFLP-GC were the initial focus of investigation on both sides of the Atlantic in the immediate aftermath of the bombing.
LORD FRASER OF CARMYLLIE (Lord Advocate 1989-1992): Well it would have been perverse not to have looked to what the German police had uncovered. After all we now know that there was at least one individual who has now been convicted of having bombs, which were contained within radio cassette recorders in Germany, and to the way they were to be detonated was by ……resort to a change through barometric pressure. It would have been extraordinary not to have pursued an investigation along those lines.
SHELLEY: In the summer of 1990 the direction of the Lockerbie investigation suddenly changed, just at the same time as the situation in the Middle East was thrown into turmoil. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the political balance in the middle east was turned on its head.
|Kuwait invasion meant Lockerbie was forgotten|
SHELLEY: President Assad of Syria, once hated in the West, was now being courted by Western leaders. Assad was visited in an unprecedented act of diplomacy by US Secretary of State Baker. And as political allegiances were changing significant advances were being made in the Lockerbie investigation. Among the crash debris a tiny fragment of circuit board was found. It was identified as part of the timer which had detonated the bomb. It was a crucial breakthrough which led investigators to the bomb's country of origin. The timer was traced to the Libyan Intelligence Service, so the Syrian based PFLP-GC was no longer the prime suspect. The bomb was now regarded as the work of Libyan terrorist.
SHELLEY: But would these charges stand
up to close scrutiny in a court of law?
MICHAEL MANSFIELD QC: Let is assume that these two are saying 'we are not responsible', right. Then I go to the scene of the crime itself, the last stage of it, which is Scotland. And one examines closely what was found there and what I mean is concrete evidence, not suspicion and allegation. And then the moment you start that process you work back to Heathrow, what happened at Heathrow? How sure are we in the various points in the journey of the so-called container? Can we be sure about at Heathrow that definitely take us unequivocally is the word that is often used in a case, unequivocally take us back from Heathrow to Frankfurt, and then at Frankfurt the same exercise has to be undergone that unequivocally take us back to Malta, because it's all based on this one premise that it started in Malta and was put on in Malta, same thing, what are the links in the chain from the airport at Malta that go right back to the offices where it is suggested this whole improvised explosive was put together, and if I could show that there were serious flaws and gaps in the chain, then I would have to say there isn't a case for the people I represent to face.
SHELLEY: It was in 1989 that the first
clues emerged that the bomb may have started its journey in Malta. That's
where we began our trail. Towards the first anniversary of the bombing
investigators made a significant breakthrough - they managed to trace pieces
of clothing and an umbrella which were inside the bomb suitcase to this
small family run shop in the back streets of Sliema, Malta. No one doubts
that the clothes were bought here, but the police also concluded that the
man who bought them was one of the two Libyan suspects - Abdelbaset. They
based this on information gathered in a serious of statements from the
shopkeeper here, Tony Gauci. But we're read fourteen of Mr Gauci's statements
and it's difficult to see how his detailed description of the customer
could possibly match that of the Libyan suspect. There are a series of
inconsistencies within the statements we looked at.
For example, Mr Gauci first identifies one man, then eleven months later points out someone entirely different. In November 1989 Tony Gauci's brother showed him an article and a photo in the Sunday Times of a Palestinian terrorist, Abu Talb. Talb, who's currently serving a life sentence in a Swedish jail, was reported to have clothing from Malta in his possession. Four months later Mr Gauci told Scottish police: "I think the photograph printed in the newspaper may have been the man who bought the clothing". The detective asked Gauci if the name was Abu Talb.
He replied: "That was the name, Abu Talb". But the US State Department fact sheet tells a different story. It says In February 1991, Al-Megrahi was described as resembling the man who had purchased the clothing items, yet Mr Gauci's statement from February 1991 actually says: "I can only say that of all the photographs I have been shown, this photograph, number 8, is the only one really similar to the man who bought the clothing, if he was a bit older, other than the photograph my brother has shown me".
DR EDGAR MIZZI (Chair of the Law Revision Commission, Malta): The man identified, or rather indicated by Gauci as the man who purchased the goods was fifty years old, about six foot high, and of strong build. Now Abdelbaset is not of strong build, he's less then six feet high, and certainly not fifty years of age. In 1988 he was only thirty-six years of age, fourteen years younger.
SHELLEY: So in your view Mr Gauci hasn't actually identified Abdelbaset at all?
DR MIZZI: He certainly has not in my view, no.
SHELLEY: Not only is identification of Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi up for question, but so too is the date he's supposed to have bought the clothing. Although neither Tony Gauci not his brother could remember exactly when the purchase was made, there are a few clues available.
DR MIZZI: The indictment says that the goods were purchased on 7th December. Now Gauci says that on the day the goods were purchased he was alone in the shop because his brother was watching a football match - the European Cup… Now these matches are played on a home and away basis, one on the 23rd November and the other one on 7th December. The game was played at 1 o'clock in the afternoon on 7th December, and after five on 23rd November. The man had gone to the shop at around 6.30 in the evening, so it must have been 23rd November that the goods were purchased on.
SHELLEY: And there's more evidence that the clothing was purchased on 23rd November and not 7th December as the indictment claims. At 6.30 when the clothes were bought, the customer also bought an umbrella because it was raining. We've checked the Maltese Meteorological records. On 23rd November it was raining between six and seven. But on 7th December there was no rain after 9am. So it must have been the earlier date. Airport arrival cards allegedly show that Megrahi was in Malta on December 7th, but there's no evidence that he was on the island on the earlier date.
MICHAEL MANSFIELD QC: The evidence
to show here that, for example, the description of the person that he gave
sometime afterwards, doesn't appear to fit, and certainly in so far as
the age is concerned there's a big difference between fifty and thirty-six
and the nature of the build and so on. Now one appreciates you might mis-describe
somebody, even if you have seen them, you might remember certain details
incorrectly, so that doesn't automatically invalidate.
But the fact that he's actually picked out someone else altogether to begin with would almost certainly render the identification inadmissible. Now the further question - date seems to be very much at large, because the shopkeeper associates the purchase with a time at which his brother is watching a football match, and it now appears that the football match that the brother was watching must have occurred on another date in view of the time of the broadcast of the football match itself. Now if it's on another date altogether than the one being alleged, namely 7th December as opposed to an earlier date in November, it throws the whole business of this identification into disarray. And I can't see at the moment any thread that's left in tact.
SHELLEY: In the weeks after the bombing
police, soldiers and volunteers got down on their hands and knees to hunt
for debris from Flight 103. From Lockerbie across here to Kielder Forest
in Northumbria they carried out a meticulous search over 850 square miles
of land. Among ten thousand items recovered one was to provide the link
investigators needed to prove an act of international terrorism. It was
a small fragment of circuits board similar to this. The indictment against
the Libyans was later to claim that it could only have come from a batch
made in Switzerland and supplied to the Libyan Intelligence Service.
It was the breakthrough that was to change the whole course of the criminal investigation. The fragment lay for months among the thousands of other pieces of evidence collected until its significance was finally recognised in 1990. It was the key piece of evidence which turned investigators attentions away from the PFLPGC and towards Libya. The clothes in Malta had already given them one link in the chain of evidence, now the timer provided another.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO: It was the evidence that the British government came up with concerning the microchip, the identification of that microchip as part of a timing device. It was quite crucial in focusing the investigation on the Libyans, there's no question about that.
SHELLEY: Forensic experts in the UK examined the fragment in minute detail. Then they sent photographs of it over here to the FBI. It was an FBI investigator, Thomas Thurman, who matched the fragment of circuit board with a timer used by Libyan terrorists.
|Chris Ronay: 'essential' to trace fragment of bomb|
THOMAS THURMAN (FBI Forensic Investigator): June 15th of 1990. I remember the date because this impression on me. Just because of the euphoria of making that identification. I knew at that point that the timer for the device that caused the explosion had been identified to the exclusion of anything else. What I was looking for is the circuit tracking gear and a particular bend, and in the circuit pattern here, which matches up as you see in this photograph, the touchpad that you can see, are identical. And then we have the circuit tracking that comes across this way, and the uniqueness of this is the imperfections in when the circuit track bends, it comes down. We have the same imperfections here, in the circuit, and when you look at it under a microscope it comes, it just jumps right out at you.
SHELLEY: Thurman said he made the match
with a timer confiscated from Libyan sponsored terrorist in the West African
country of Togo in 1986. But this important detail seems to have caused
confusion among investigators. The CIA's own Head of Counter Terrorism
at the time was under the impression when we spoke to him that the Lockerbie
fragment was matched with a Libyan timer seized in Senegal in 1988. Only
after our persistent enquiries did he and the FBI eventually agree there
had been photographs of the Senegal timer and in intact timer from Togo
with which the match was made. Thurman's reputation as a forensic expert
has also become the subject of much debate.
A US Department of Justice investigation in April found he had been routinely altering the reports of scientists working in FBI Explosives Unit - the unit where he made the Lockerbie match in 1990. Fifty-two of the reports which he supervised between 1987 and 1992 were reviewed in the inquiry. Only twenty had not been altered by him. In thirteen of the reports Thurman's alterations had changed the meaning of what had been written, resulting in albeit unintentionally a bias to the prosecution case. Allegations against Thurman and several of his colleagues have been made by Frederic Whitehurst, a chemist with the FBI for fifteen years. Can you be confident then that any of the work that these individual were involved in from the mid eighties is competent?
FREDERIC WHITEHURST (FBI Forensic Science Laboratory): I'm not. I would propose that any….any court, any hearing that would be using that information would seriously review it and have outside expertise. Experts review that stuff.
SHELLEY: Frontline has learned that
Thomas Thurman has only had six months of formal scientific training in
the Army. His degree is in political science. We've also obtained confidential
FBI memos which question Thurman's ability to do his job.
One memo says: V/O "It is clear that SSA Thurman does not understand the scientific issues involved with the interpretation and significance of explosives and explosives residue composition. He therefore should realise this deficiency and differentiate between his personal opinions and scientific fact. An expert's opinion should be based upon objective, scientific findings and be separated from personal predilections and biases."
SHELLEY: It concludes: V/O: "SSA Thurman acted irresponsibly. He should be held accountable. He should be disciplined accordingly".
SHELLEY: The Department recommended that Thurman be reassigned from his position as Chief of the Explosives Unit and replaced by someone with a scientific background. If the individual who was changing your reports was to testify in court, would you feel confident about the quality of the evidence he was able to give?
FREDERIC WHITEHURTS: Not at all. I would want to review every word, every word that came out of his mouth. Every piece of paper, everything, the basis for everything that came out of that individual. There'd be no question in my mind, there'd…..I'd be screaming concern, and I have screamed the concern very loudly.
THURMAN: ……..this is the front of the timer, it has MST-13 on the timer, that's what we're calling it, MST-13……..
SHELLEY: It was Thurman's matching of the timer which led investigators towards the Libyans. The US fact sheet pointed out that all the MST-13 timers produced were delivered to the Libyans. It says twenty were delivered in 1985 and no more were made. But that's been challenged by the manufacturer of the timers.
We came to Zurich to speak to Edwin
Bollier, the man who manufactured and sold the MST-13 timer which investigators
detonated the bomb on board Pan Am 103. When the case against the Libyans
was set out in November 1991 investigators said that all the MST-13 timers
manufactured by Bollier's company MEBO were delivered to the Libyans, and
only the Libyans. But Mr Bollier told them later that he'd also sold a
batch to the East German Secret Police, the Stazi. In the 1980s it was
well known that the Stazi had links with a Syrian based terrorist group,
So if other terrorists had access to these same timers it raises questions about the strength of the case against the Libyans. Mr Bollier has extensive contacts with Libya. He met one of the suspects, Megrahi several times, and rented office space to one Megrahi's colleagues. He currently shares the same Swiss lawyer as the two suspects. Nevertheless he is insistent that timers were sold both to the Germans and to the Libyans.
SHELLEY: Well the authorities say the
type of timer that was identified in the Lockerbie bombing was in the sole
possession of the Libyans. As the manufacturer, is that true in your opinion?
SHELLEY: Investigators though maintain that even if Bollier had supplied timers elsewhere, the Libyan timers were distinct.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO: These we knew were designed and constructed at the orders of the Libyan Intelligence Service. Second point is that the circuit boards of the timing devices that the Stazi had were a different phenolic board, they were a different colour than the ones that the Libyans were using in their intelligence operations, and the reason we knew that is because we had access to some of the Libyans timing devices from the cache that was seized in Senegal.
SHELLEY: But Bollier disagrees. He made the timers in only two colours, green and brown. Both colours were sold to the Libyans, but both were also sold in a batch of seven to the Stazi in September 1985. Have you ever been shown the actual fragment of circuit board that was found by the Lockerbie investigators?
EDWIN BOLLIER: No. This fragment, which was allegedly found in Lockerbie, was only shown to us in a photograph. As the supplier of these MST-13 timers I wanted to see the original. I spent a week in Washington, where I could not be shown the original piece. I was directed to Scotland, where I also spent a week. There too, I, as the chief witness, was not granted access to this piece. The reason why I wanted to see the original piece was that we ascertained that features of this photo prove to us that it depicts a falsified fragment.
SHELLEY: But that's quite a serious claim to make that the investigators may have falsified evidence. You must be able to back it up somehow?
EDWIN BOLLIER: If I see the original, if the evidence is laid on a table, for example, in front of a court. I can explain to a court why it is that this piece could not have functioned. At the moment, however, I don't want to give this information to the media. That's why I want this to be clarified and see the original.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO: Well Mr Bollier unfortunately is not a credible witness because Mr Bollier was working with the Libyans. Mr Bollier has gone to Tripoli and served as a guest at the Gadaffi government and has received financing for his company from the Libyan government. So I'm afraid anything Bollier says has got to be suspect.
MICHAEL MANSFIELD QC: I understand the points being made about Mr Bollier, that he may be impeachable. Of course he may be, and loads of witnesses may be impeachable. They're going to have to go to him, so if he's impeachable they're destroying their own case. They're going to have to go to him, so if he's impeachable they're destroying their own case. They're going to have to go to the manufacturer of, if you like, the overall device, the timer, they're going to have to go to him and get some sort of evidence or else what are they going to do, say 'well we don't know how many timers'?
SHELLEY: The investigators are quite firm in their belief that one of their finest explosives experts, as they describe him, matched up this fragment of circuit board to the MST-13 timer, and they're in no doubt whatsoever that it was a Libyan timer, and therefore it must have been the Libyans who carried out this attack.
MICHAEL MANSFIELD QC: Well I'd like
to make just one point about forensic science. Forensic science is not
immutable. They're not written in tablets of stone, and the biggest mistake
that anyone can make - public, expert or anyone else alike - is to believe
that forensic science is somehow beyond reproach, it is not. The biggest
miscarriages of justice in the United Kingdom, many of them emanate from
cases in which forensic science has been shown to be wrong.
And the moment a forensic scientist or anyone else says 'I am sure this marries up with that…' I get worried. As far as I can see nothing has been put into the public arena that would satisfactorily answer the questions of continuity such that you could say these two Libyans used that fragment of circuit board that is missing. To say that maybe the Libyan government or its Intelligence Services had some circuit boards that may have been similar is completely insufficient.
SHELLEY: This is where investigators
say the bomb began its journey - Luqa Airport in Malta. Almost six years
ago the joint British American investigation concluded that two Libyan
Intelligence officials, one of whom was working here, hid plastic explosives
inside a cassette recorder.
They put that inside a brown Samsonite suitcase, which they somehow managed to get on unaccompanied to flight KM 180 from Malta to Frankfurt. There, the case was transferred to Pan Am Flight 103A to Heathrow, where it was transferred a third and final time to Pam Am Flight 103 to New York. It was on this final leg of the journey that the bomb was primed to explode. This version of events has been stuck to rigidly on both sides of the Atlantic since the suspects were named in November 1991. The authority's unshakeable conviction that the bomb began its journey in Malta is supported by the testimony of a Libyan supergrass.
We understand that Abdu Maged Jiaka defected to the United States in 1990, and is now under a Witness Protection Programme. Jiaka worked as deputy station manager of Libyan Arab Airlines at Luqa Airport for three years. He was working alongside Fhimah in December of 1988 and it appears his evidence would be crucial in any criminal trial.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO: Oh I think the evidence available to the Department of Justice in their case, which they're keeping under wraps, is overwhelming, it's conclusive. I think it is mind boggling in the amount of detail that they have. They have also….they have a live witness for one thing, who would be presented in a court of law. I think there is a tremendous amount of evidence that will allow the prosecutors to present the chronology of the operation from its very inception, and that chronology would start even before Malta, go to Malta and then…..you know…..describe and in almost excruciating detail exactly how they made the bomb, how they secreted it, how they got it on board the aircraft, and I think that's a fairly strong case.
MICHAEL MANSFIELD QC: It is not clear from the public information on both sides of the Atlantic where certain observations are made about the manufacturer of the bomb, whether these observations emanate from a witness, or where they may be just supposition, in other words putting two circumstances together and supposing this is what happened. If for a moment one imagines, because that's all one can do, nothing has been made public, that there is a person saying I saw them do X, Y or Z, then of course that adds another dimension.
But there is a further qualification to that kind of evidence, because one has to ask, 'Who is the person making the suggestion?', 'What is the background of the person making the suggestion?',
'What incentives have been given to that person?', and all one has to remember is that certainly within the United Kingdom the use of evidence that is for evidential purposes as opposed to intelligence gathering, the use in court of material gleamed from what used to be called supergrasses or informers are used very carefully indeed, and in fact often now they're not used at all. Very good reason…….these people have an axe to grind, there's a good reason why they might want to embellish, guild the lily a bit and add a bit, because they're being presented with money, security, changed identities and they are in fact beholden to the authority which is wanting them to give evidence.
SHELLEY: Whatever the supergrass says though, Air Malta has a perfectly preserved set of records from flight KM180 which flew to Frankfurt on 21st December 1988. Tickets give details of who each passengers was and their final destination. Other documents show exactly how many bags were checked in and loaded on to the plane that day. The documents show no inconsistency.
WILFRED BORG (Operational Co-ordinator Air Malta): The opinion that we have, and still hold, is that with the systems that we had at the time, and we still have today, it is an impossibility to put in an extra bag on an aircraft unnoticed. The system basically that we operate is that a tally is kept of the baggage which is accepted on check on in each and every flight, and a physical reconciliation, a physical count of the number of pieces of baggage being loaded on an aircraft is made, which would then be tallied with the number accepted on check-in. So an additional bag would be picked up.
SHELLEY: How can you be sure though even if the numbers tally that the case was not switched at some point by the Libyan suspect who did have access to areas that other people wouldn't have access to?
WILFRED BORD: Well that particular flight had thirty-nine passengers on board leaving Malta. If someone switches a bag it is through the counts will tally, because the head loader will find fifty-five bags on board. But you would be faced with a passenger claim at the other end. Why? Because the passenger whose bag would have been switched would be missing his bag in Frankfurt, or in his final port of call. It wasn't the case on this flight. We had no claims from any of the passengers on this flight, or not only that, but each passenger was interviewed by the Lockerbie investigators and each passenger confirmed that he received his bags on that particular journey, and the number of bags that he was carrying tallied with our records.
SHELLEY: But investigators preferred to rely on incomplete and inconclusive records from Frankfurt Airport. What these show that as an unaccompanied bag was loaded on to Pan Am 103A, around the same time luggage was unloaded from the Air Malta flight.
WILFRED BORG: What the Frankfurt records indicate, and again the word is 'indicate' is that at the time that the Air Malta flight was being off-loaded from …..in Frankfurt, a bag was coded in and stationed 206 I believe, and routed to go via…..to London on to Pan Am. Now apart from the problem that the Frankfurt documentation is inaccurate, and incomplete, there is no tangible evidence in there which positively identifies the bag as coming from Malta.
SHELLEY: That was a view shared by Lord Fraser, the former Lord Advocate, almost a year after the bombing. In a statement on 5th November 1989 he said: "The Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway has advised me that he cannot substantiate reports about unaccompanied baggage having gone from Malta to Frankfurt let alone unaccompanied luggage with a bomb in it."
That's a view still held by the former Head of British Airways Security who was employed by Air Malta to review security on flight KM180.
DENIS PHIPPS (Former Head of Security British Airways): It is my personal opinion that the bomb which destroyed Pan Am 103 did not originate from the airport at Malta.
SHELLEY: While it might have been expected that security at a small airport on a holiday island like Malta would not rival that of a large international airport like Frankfurt, Denis Phipps discovered that quite the opposite was true.
DENIS PHIPPS: At Luqa there was a complete set of records of what had occurred, and that from those records and from questioning the staff involved, that there had been a complete chain of supervision and care over the baggage from the point it was checked in to when it was loaded. Now if we try to follow the same trail at Frankfurt what was not available were records of who had been responsible for looking after those same bags once they arrived at Frankfurt, or indeed how many bags had arrived and been handled and where they'd gone and what happened to them. Did the bag containing the bomb go on during this period of time.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO: They have vindicated themselves on paper in terms of the security procedures, but if their security personnel are suborned by hostile intelligence service, and they are completely vulnerable to whatever that hostile service would want to put on their aircraft, with baggage tags, without baggage tags. Once you have basically infiltrated the security apparatus there is no barrier to doing exactly what Fhimah and Megrahi did.
SHELLEY: According to the US State Department fact sheet Fhimah played a key role in getting the bomb suitcase on KM180. It's claimed he used his official status as station manager for Libyan Arab Airlines at Luqa Airport to bypass security.
DENIS PHIPPS: I'm satisfied that the aircraft was kept under proper supervision by Air Malta staff while it was being loaded, that the head loaded supervised the closing of the doors and I do not believe that for one moment that the loading staff would have permitted such a thing to happen.
SHELLEY: Air Malta may very well produce screeds and screeds of documentation which proves on paper that no unaccompanied bag left on flight KM180, but if, as Vincent Cannistraro argues, the system was suborned then that argument really doesn't matter at the end of the day, does it?
MICHAEL MANSFIELD QC: Well it's an extraordinary argument that Cannistraro is putting forward. If on the one hand you show by documentation, by interviewing baggage handlers, which I understood happened here, by examining the person who was supervising the whole of the baggage handlers….you're able to show it's a watertight case, then they say 'oh, it could have been suborned'. If you on the other hand have no documentation, and you aren't able to show what cases went on….they say 'ah, ah, very suspicious, why haven't you got the documentation?', so it seems on the CIA approach to life, you can't win unless you've got a particular hypothesis which is theirs, namely the Libyans did it therefore everything else flows from it.
And I think one has to be extremely careful about this, because if essentially on that thesis it would mean that the documents in Malta have all had to have been forged, it would also mean that the chief supervisor obviously has been paid off and so on, and they have no evidence, it's all very well to say all this, what are they saying, that the head supervisor of Air Malta is in the Libyan pocket, is being paid, there's no evidence of this at all. These are accusations it seems to be without any foundation at all.
SHELLEY: When Fhimah left his job as station manager at Luqa Airport he left behind a diary in his office. We've seen a copy. Investigators say the entry on December 15th, six days before Lockerbie, implicates Fhimah directly in the bombing. It's a reminder to pick up Air Malta baggage tags. It's alleged Fhimah used these tags to route the bomb suitcase out of Luqa via Frankfurt and Heathrow to New York.
DR EDGAR MIZZI: If he intended to use the baggage tags to kill people, would he have entered that in the diary, and leave it there for the police eventually to find it I don't how many months after the event. He left it in Malta, it was found in his office, the entry of the following day, 22nd December, was about the purchase of two dresses and a shampoo for his family, a very very mundane item.
SHELLEY: But from the FBI's point of view the diary entry is yet another piece of damning evidence against the suspect.
OLIVER "BUCK" REVELL (Former FBI Chief Investigator, Lockerbie): The ??… bomber kept a complete diary of his actions and he went undetected for eighteen years. There were substantial writings by the individuals involved in the World Trade Centre bombing. People do peculiar things. Obviously it would have been better for him if he had not made any such notation, that's simply one piece of information that'll certainly be factored in along with other information as to whether or not the government, whichever government it is, can prove their case.
MICHAEL MANSFIELD QC: Well I can only
emphasise again that all this illustrates is suspicion. If you already
have a case against these two, evidence that shows that they made the bomb
in Malta and they trundle along to the airport with their …..a suitcase
and they put Air Malta tags on it, alright, then an entry in a diary supports
all that. But if you don't have that, then the entry in the diary merely
looks on the face of it suspicious.
But one has to ask the further questions - Where is the evidence? Obviously a case did get on the plane and it was the case that contained the bomb, and that it did have fraudulent Air Malta tags on it. Now where's the evidence from Malta? As far as I know there isn't any, because the suggestion in Malta is that it couldn't have gone on the plane on Malta. Where is the evidence in Frankfurt of a case with Air Malta tags, the one that had somehow or another got on in Malta coming off the plane? There isn't any.
There is some suggestion of an extra case in Frankfurt at the time frame that fits, that's about it. There certainly doesn't appear to be any evidence at the Lockerbie end, let alone at the Heathrow end of an Air Malta case with tags on coming through. Therefore none of this really adds up to more than an odd entry in a diary, and yes maybe he shouldn't have been doing it, but that's all it adds up to.
SHELLEY: If the Maltese case falls apart, so too does the case against the Libyan suspects. But the authorities believe that connection is rock solid.
OLIVER REVELL: I'm convinced that what the indictment says is true and there's evidence to support the indictment.
SHELLEY: And the fact that the Maltese authorities haven't been able to find evidence of that?
OLIVER REVELL: I don't know what the Maltese authorities have been able to find, but I do know what the evidence showed to the satisfaction of our legal system, and there was a great deal of effort on the part of both the British and the American authorities, the FBI and the Scottish police and the security services in establishing that link.
MICHAEL MANSFIELD QC: So far as the Maltese connection is concerned, the clothing, the identification, when it was bought, the weather conditions, all of that, I think add up to a situation in which were it to be presented to a court in the United Kingdom, it probably wouldn't even get past the doors. It would be declared at some stage or another inadmissible evidence because it is so fatally flawed at the very root.
SHELLEY: Next December it'll be ten years since Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the sky over Lockerbie. Ten years in which relatives of the 270 who died have been searching for an answer. When the two Libyan suspects were named in 1991 their hopes were raised. But almost six years on it's doubtful whether they'll even ever hear the evidence against the Libyans. With no prospect of a trial, the families are no closer to finding out who murdered their loved ones, and as each day passes that prospect dims further on the horizon.
DAN COHEN: We talked to a very knowledgeable reporter who knows the government, knows the way these things work and he says 'do you know, nobody around here give a damn what happened to your daughter, the only power you have is the power to embarrass the bastards', and that's all we're trying to do, we're trying to embarrass the bastards. How can you allow this to go unpunished, and you keep asking that question, you keep pushing it. Maybe some day it'll have an affect, and any event there nothing else we can do.
JIM SWIRE: We have a fundamental lack of trust that we're being told the truth even of what we do know, and that makes me deeply angry, and it's something that we have to face every day of our lives, not just some anniversary time or when something happens in the media. Every day we have to remember that she's gone and nobody can even be bothered to get their finger out and find out who did it and punish them.
SHELLEY: Diplomatic and legal wrangles over the fate of the two Libyan suspects will continue over the coming weeks and months. But it's doubtful whether it will bring any meaningful result for two father who just want to see their daughters' killers brought to justice.