Thursday, 7 July 2016

From Libya to Iraq, a Hell on Earth.

Many may feel there is no connection between the Lockerbie bombing, Libya, and the Iraq war.  I hope, however, that a reading of a piece I wrote in 2006, as Iraq began to fall apart under occupation by the US and Britain, will indicate a connection.

That connection is the corrupt political and intelligence systems which force Britain always to follow the American lead. Any backsliding in this regard becomes a source of threats by the US to withdraw political and intelligence cooperation. The Lockerbie story has proved this time and time again.

CRY HAVOC [AND SET LOOSE THE DOGS OF WAR]

Morton's Neuroma. That's what the surgeon said. If you walk for a long time on a hard surface, the nerve in your third knuckle on your left foot will fire off, and you'll be in trouble. And so I was, shuffling through the stinking horse manure of London's Whitehall, close to Horseguard's Parade, hanging onto my wife's hand, holding high a placard.

A yard ahead an elderly lady pushed a wheelchair containing a young boy with irons on his legs. He was wrapped in blankets, his head lolling to one side.

Ahead of them was a group of five elderly ladies from the Women's Institute of Bridgend in Wales loudly proclaiming that they represented a hundred more who couldn't get to London.

Behind us a young Asian man roared at intervals into a hand-held loud speaker Tony Blair, Terrorist! George Bush, Terrorist! The battery was fading, but not his voice.

Neither he nor any of us were aware, on that freezing February 15th 2003, that we were part of an unfolding history. As far ahead and as far behind as we could see were young, old, disabled, folk on crutches, babes in arms, teenagers singing, young Asian and Arab men protesting, old couples leaning on each other for support.

I had impertinently written to the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and challenged him to be there. But he wasn't. And, apart from a dozen honourable exceptions, neither were the members of our Mother of Parliaments. Most, no doubt, tending to their homes, wives, and cattle. And their directorships.

Ahead, still two hours shuffle away, lay the three hundred and fifty acres of Hyde Park. By afternoon's end we would fill it with angry people, wall to wall, gate to gate. That's a lot of folks. The final estimate, proved by photographic and overhead video evidence, was a minimum of one and a half million. The largest peacetime demonstration that the world had ever seen.

I'd written to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. I'd told him that I'd seen all these lies before, in Vietnam, Iran-Contra, in Britain's conquest of Suez and Cyprus, in America's campaign of lies about Libya. We warned him that Iraq, surrounded as she was by America's enemies, would become another Lebanon, another Cyprus, another Vietnam.
 
Straw and my local member of Parliament told me I was a fool. Leave it to those who understand these things. And we, the little people, were watching it all again. On the US networks, and notably on Fox. Saddam's Winnebagoes of Death. A CIA lie, confidently repeated on every Fox presenter screen. What of Al Jazeera? We'll bomb 'em, bumbled a retired Lieutenant Colonel. Yea. Amazing, urged Fox's Brian Kilmead.

But Fox was only part of it. America had over the twentieth century visited many Nine Elevens on other inferior nations, from McKinley's brutal conquest of the Philippines, to Nixon and Kissinger's Two hundred thousand [drowned in a single series of raids over Haiphong] is not enough.

And now war had visited American shores. Nine Eleven demanded revenge, and a frenzy of blind patriotism ran through every level of society, dividing Transatlantic friend from friend, nation from nation.

Someone will hear from us, muttered a traumatised President. The Dogs of War were about to be loosed, but who might guess where they had mind to run?

The little people knew, and said it, loud and clear. The leaders could not hear, would not hear.

And so to Sky television news, and James Rubin, guru of Clinton's White House, a wise man, one who really should know, and certainly not a Neocon. Question time, and as luck would have it, my name came first out of the hat.

Over to Peter of Worcestershire, England. What is your question to James?

Evening James. Nine Eleven was enacted by primitive technology and nineteen willing hearts. How will an invasion of Iraq reduce the number of willing hearts?

Well, thought Jamie, an invasion of Iraq will prove to the Arab world that brutal dictators cannot be allowed to do what they do. And so, surrounding Arab nations will understand that the best route is to adopt democratic ways for their peoples.

Read Jamie's answer again, carefully. Heard it before? How many times? Who said it? Democrat or Liberal?

And so to early December 2006, almost four years later. I was watching on CNN and Al Jazeera last evening lines of grey-haired experts questioning would-be Secretary of State for Defense, Robert Gates.

The thought crossed my mind. Where were these now very wise and thoughtful Senate gentlemen and ladies when we — the little people — were protesting around the world that the Iraq invasion would be based on a lie, was nothing less than a visceral desire for revenge against the great Them?

Where were America's highly paid and educated media bloodhounds when Rumsfeld comically acted out the word "guerrilla" when asked if there were insurgency groups forming in Iraq just weeks after the invasion?

Mrs Clinton and each of those senators voted to support the President in 2002, even though it was obvious and widely known what he intended to do. And they watched, as we all did, the hour-long CIA lies mouthed by Colin Powell with Negroponte sitting at his shoulder like a mournful vulture. And still they supported the war.

Only now, with hundreds of thousands of "inferior" human beings dead, and Iraq a broken state for decades ahead, does America understand its mistake. But still must for years continue the suffering, the agony, the dying, while there remain "American Interests" to be protected and reinforced.

And when the next Nine Eleven occurs, what will America do?

December 13, 2006



Friday, 27 May 2016

Lockerbie: Government still trying to suppress evidence

[In today's edition of Scotland's The Herald:]

It would have been an action unheard of in the Scottish press - the UK Government pulling an entire edition of a newspaper in a bid to suppress a secret document.
But that's exactly what the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) threatened to do to The Herald in 2012 when it sought to publish details of a report implicating a Palestinian terror group in the Lockerbie bombing.
MacAskill:
"Verdict Unsafe: New Inquiry necessary".
The full details of what happened were published yesterday in Kenny MacAskill's new book on the atrocity - and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is again taking action.
The government department has said it is "considering the contents" of the book, The Lockerbie Bombing: The Search for Justice, amid claims it may breach of Official Secrets Act.
[PB NOTE: Mr MacAskill has stated in an interview with BBC Scotland that the Lockerbie verdict appears to him "unsafe" and that a new inquiry is necessary]

He reveals that at the time the Herald was seeking to publish the information, he took a call from Tory MP Alistair Burt, who was working with the FCO.
"He threatened not just to pull The Herald's story, but to pull the whole edition
Burt: Enforced closure
of British and Scottish newspaper?
of the newspaper," he said.
"I was incredulous. I told him that the people of Scotland would definitely notice if there was no Herald the next day.
"It really showed the extremes the UK Government was prepared to go to to stop the publication of something fundamental to Scotland's leading criminal case."
The document was subject to Public Interest Immunity, which prevented its release to the defence in the trial of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the bombing.
After taking legal advice, The Herald ran the story detailing the main points of
Jibril-led Palestinian group.
Paid by Iran.
the document, including that it came from Jordan and implicated the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) in the December 1988 attack.
Certain information was not available to The Herald at that time, however it has all now been revealed in Mr MacAskill's book.
It is understood that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office requested a copy of the book on Sunday ahead of
Philip Hammond:
Threatened injunction
to prevent book publication.
Thursday's publication, but were not provided with one as officials refused to rule out seeking an injunction.
The PFLP-GC were the original suspects in the investigation into Lockerbie, however by 1991 police and prosecutors were entirely focused on Libya.
This document naming the terror group was repeatedly suppressed at a high-level, despite sources claiming it presented little risk to national security.
In 2012, a source told The Herald: "The contents are very important but what makes them so much more significant is the lengths the UK Government and others have gone to in order to prevent anyone from seeing the document.
"This is the most remarkable piece of evidence. It does not rule out the Libyans but it does indicate that others were involved."
Mr MacAskill, who claimed the suppression of the document had more to with keeping the Jordanians happy so that radical cleric Abu Qatada could be deported from the UK, admits in his book that he believes the PFLP-GC were involved in the plot which killed 270 people.
The former politician, who made the controversial decision to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds in 2009, also raises doubts over the identification of Megrahi buying clothes from a shop in Malta that were found wrapped around the bomb.
However, he is now facing claims it is "dumbfounding" and "hypocritical" for a former justice minister to make such assertions that the case against Megrahi was flawed.
Robert Black QC, one of the architects behind Megrahi's trial who now heads up the Justice for Megrahi campaign, said: "Many of the things that Kenny is saying are the things that we've been saying for years.
"He said on the radio that there should be a new inquiry into Lockerbie - we've been asking for that for years, and it was him we were asking.
"It's only now that he doesn't actually have any power to do something that he's agreeing with us."
Mr Black added that it could be open to the FCO to try to secure a prosecution against Mr MacAskill for breaching the Officials Secrets Act, but he believes it would be highly unlikely.
He said: "Given that The Herald already published much of the detail in 2012, and they got away with it, I can't see how a case could be brought against him."

Friday, 20 May 2016

Nicola Sturgeon has a duty to set up an immediate Inquiry


Former Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny
MacAskill, in his book The Lockerbie Bombing (Biteback), writes:
"Clothes in the suitcase containing the bomb were acquired in Malta, though not by Megrahi"
This totally contradicts the written verdict of the Lockerbie trial judges regarding the identification evidence given by Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci.
 
"[88] A major factor in the case against [Baset al-Megrahi] is the identification evidence of [Maltese shopkeeper] Mr Gauci... We 
Gauci a reliable witness.
accept the reliability of Mr Gauci on this matter."

If MacAskill is correct and Megrahi did not purchase the clothes from Tony Gauci's shop in Malta, then  how could Gauci have seen him and recognize him from photographs and in a police identity parade, and in the courtroom? 

As Justice Minister MacAskill was privy to all security reports and the entire trial evidence. He worked closely with the office of the Lord Advocate.

If he knows of evidence indicating that Megrahi was not the person who purchased clothes from Gauci's shop, then he has a legal and moral duty to say what it is.

If there is such evidence, then the entire testimony of the only identification witness in the Lockerbie trial, Tony Gauci, is invalid, and a major miscarriage of justice has occurred.

MacAskill's moral and legal duty, and that of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, extends not only to those bereaved 
Sturgeon: Urgent inquiry?
relatives who believe Megrahi to be innocent, but to all bereaved Lockerbie relatives in America and elsewhere.


Nicola Sturgeon must grasp the nettle in this matter and instigate an urgent and immediate inquiry.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Professor Noam Chomsky: 'Afghanistan to Libya still a US strategic work in progress'

An extract from Professor Noam Chomsky's new book "Who Rules the World?"

Noam Chomsky
[Peter Biddulph has drawn attention on Facebook to the admission by retired four-star general Wesley Clark that within three weeks of the 9/11 attack of 2002, President George Bush secretly issued a strategic call to the Pentagon to destroy seven Middle Eastern governments in five years. America's strategy is still a work in progress. In his new book Professor Chomsky focuses on key areas, including the following: Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Libya was destroyed in 2011.] 

The Challenges Today: The Islamic World
Let us turn to the third region of major concern, the (largely) Islamic world, also the scene of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) that George W. Bush declared in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attack. To be more accurate, re-declared.
Gen. Wesley Clark

The GWOT was declared by the Reagan administration when it took office, with fevered rhetoric about a “plague spread by depraved opponents of civilization itself” (as Reagan put it) and a “return to barbarism in the modern age” (the words of George Shultz, his secretary of state).

The original GWOT has been quietly removed from history. It very quickly turned into a murderous and destructive terrorist war afflicting Central America, southern Africa, and the Middle East, with grim repercussions to the present, even leading to condemnation of the United States by the World Court (which Washington dismissed). In any event, it is not the right story for history, so it is gone.

Destruction of Afghanistan.

The success of the Bush-Obama version of GWOT can readily be evaluated on direct inspection. When the war was declared, the terrorist targets were confined to a small corner of tribal Afghanistan. They were protected by Afghans, who mostly disliked or despised them, under the tribal code of hospitality – which baffled Americans when poor peasants refused “to turn over Osama bin Laden for the, to them, astronomical sum of $25 million.”

There are good reasons to believe that a well-constructed police action, or even serious diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban, might have placed those suspected of the 9/11 crimes in American hands for trial and sentencing. But such options were off the table.

Instead, the reflexive choice was large-scale violence – not with the goal of overthrowing the Taliban (that came later) but to make clear U.S. contempt for tentative Taliban offers of the possible extradition of bin Laden.

How serious these offers were we do not know, since the possibility of exploring them was never entertained. Or perhaps the United States was just intent on “trying to show its muscle, score a victory and scare everyone in the world. They don’t care about the suffering of the Afghans or how many people we will lose.”

That was the judgment of the highly respected anti-Taliban leader Abdul Haq, one of the many oppositionists who condemned the American bombing campaign launched in October 2001 as "a big setback" for their efforts to overthrow the Taliban from within, a goal they considered within their reach.

His judgment is confirmed by Richard A. Clarke, who was chairman of the Counterterrorism Security Group at the White House under President George W. Bush when the plans to attack Afghanistan were made.

As Clarke describes the meeting, when informed that the attack would violate international law, "the President yelled in the narrow conference room, ‘I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.’"

The attack was also bitterly opposed by the major aid organizations working in Afghanistan, who warned that millions were on the verge of starvation and that the consequences might be horrendous.
The consequences for poor Afghanistan years later need hardly be reviewed.

Destruction of Iraq.

Defenceless Baghdad attacked
The road to Basra. Sixty kilometres of death
 
The next target of the sledgehammer was Iraq. The U.S.-UK invasion, utterly without credible pretext, is the major crime of the twenty-first century.  
US invasion
Unknown Iraqi soldier
  The invasion led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people in a country where the civilian society had already been devastated by American and British sanctions that were regarded as “genocidal” by the two distinguished international diplomats who administered them, and resigned in protest for this reason. 
Millions of refugees. Thousands drowned.


The invasion also generated millions of refugees, largely destroyed the country, and instigated a sectarian conflict that is now tearing apart Iraq and the entire region. It is an astonishing fact about our intellectual and moral culture that in informed and enlightened circles it can be called, blandly, “the liberation of Iraq.”

Pentagon and British Ministry of Defense polls found that only 3% of Iraqis regarded the U.S. security role in their neighborhood as legitimate, less than 1% believed that “coalition” (U.S.-UK) forces were good for their security, 80% opposed the presence of coalition forces in the country, and a majority supported attacks on coalition troops.

Afghanistan has been destroyed beyond the possibility of reliable polling, but there are indications that something similar may be true there as well. Particularly in Iraq the United States suffered a severe defeat, abandoning its official war aims, and leaving the country under the influence of the sole victor, Iran.

Destruction of Libya.

The sledgehammer was also wielded elsewhere, notably in Libya, where the three traditional imperial powers (Britain, France, and the United States) procured Security Council resolution 1973 and instantly violated it, becoming the air force of the rebels.

The effect was to undercut the possibility of a peaceful, negotiated settlement; sharply increase casualties (by at least a factor of 10, according to political scientist Alan Kuperman); leave Libya in ruins, in the hands of warring militias; and, more recently, to provide the Islamic State with a base that it can use to spread terror beyond.  
Blair: "Act of humanity"
Gaddafi slaughtered like an animal


Quite sensible diplomatic proposals by the African Union, accepted in principle by Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, were ignored by the imperial triumvirate, as Africa specialist Alex de Waal reviews. A huge flow of weapons and jihadis has spread terror and violence from West Africa (now the champion for terrorist murders) to the Levant, while the NATO attack also sent a flood of refugees from Africa to Europe.

Yet another triumph of “humanitarian intervention,” and, as the long and often ghastly record reveals, not an unusual one, going back to its modern origins four centuries ago.

Noam Chomsky is institute professor emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His new book, Who Rules the World? (Metropolitan Books, 2016).
His website is www.chomsky.info/

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Scotland's Lord Advocate resigns

Scotland's Lord Advocate is to step down from his position as Scotland's leading law officer. Click here for more...

Lord Advocate Mulholland
His decision comes just days after a media conference held in Edinburgh's Dynamic Earth conference centre on 16th March, chaired by representatives of Justice for Megrahi.

At that conference there were calls for the Lord Advocate to consider his position, following a special police investigation - Operation Sandwood - into allegations of criminality including those by his predecessor Lord Boyd and a key forensic witness during the Lockerbie trial of Libyan Baset al-Megrahi.

It is understood that the Operation Sandwood report will be available for consideration in approximately two months time.

Recently in an unusual move, the National Scottish Police Force has appointed an independent QC to advise it on the Sandwood inquiry because it felt unable to ask Crown Office lawyers to assess the evidence of alleged wrongdoing against certain Crown officers.  Click here for more on this story.

Al-Megrahi was convicted in 2000 for the Lockerbie bombing, in which 259 passengers and eleven townspeople were killed by a bomb placed on flight Pan Am 103.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Public challenge to Lockerbie prosecutors

Media Conference: Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS Wednesday 16th March 2016 at 1.45pm

[Before reading the statement by Justice for Megrahi, please watch this interview of the chief Scottish lawyer and FBI investigator of the Lockerbie evidence ...

And study the following:
  
IF A PICTURE PAINTS A THOUSAND WORDS...

Here are three photographs.

The first is of the fragment of timer circuit board said by the prosecution to have been found at Lockerbie. 


Photographs two and three are of annotations written by Allen Feraday, the forensic officer on whose forensic report the Lockerbie verdict of Guilty was founded.

Photograph two is of his note dated 1st August 1991 concerning the above fragment. The words are "Plating on the two thin lines is of pure tin (Cu [copper] breaking through from underneath. Alan F.)"


The third is of his note on the same day concerning a set of circuit boards sent to him for comparison by the Swiss company Thuring. The words are "Tinning on the thin tracks is of 70/30 sn/pb [tin/lead]. However this may be dipped or roller tinned on top of either the Cu tracks? or the Cu tracks with a layer of pure tin? Alan F."


There is a clear metallurgical difference between the two items. Feraday indicates some puzzlement as to why this may be the case, hence his two question marks.

But did he draw this difference and his two questions to the attention of the judges in the Lockerbie trial?

No. He stated with absolute certainty: 

“The particular tracking pattern of the fragment has been extensively compared with the control samples of the [Thuring] MST-13 timers and circuit boards and it has been conclusively established that the fragment materials and tracking pattern are similar in all respects to the area around the connection pad for the output relay of the `MST-13' timer.” 

"Conclusively established ... materials and tracking pattern similar in all respects ..." Ten simple words. Yet on this false statement a man was condemned to a lifetime of imprisonment.  

What was the origin of the Lockerbie fragment? Who made it, where and when? It clearly did not come from Thuring and was not from the batch sold to Libya in 1985. Whatever its origin, it contradicts the unique central feature of the prosecution case. 

The Scottish Crown Office continues to stonewall the nation and Scottish Government by pronouncing that this evidence can only be considered in a court of law.  Well, here are the pictures. Please judge for yourself. 

There is further reference to this under allegations 5, 6 and 7 below.] 

Outline of Justice for Megrahi allegations against individuals and bodies involved in the Lockerbie investigation and the trial at Camp van Zeist in 2000

Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh
 

The case against Abdelbaset al-Megrahi relied on a number of points which are addressed by our allegations.  

A.  The bomb was held to have travelled unaccompanied from Luqa airport, Malta, on alight to Frankfurt which departed at a time when Mr. al-Megrahi was at that airport, preparing to catch a flight to Tripoli which was open for check-in at the same time as the Frankfurt flight.

B.  Both of the accused, Mr. al-Megrahi and Mr. Fhimah, were said to have been seen with a brown hard-shell suitcase at Luqa airport on 20 December 1988, the day before the disaster. (The suitcase containing the bomb was identified as a brown or bronze Samsonite hard-shell.)

C.  Mr. al-Megrahi was said to have purchased a selection of clothes which were identified as having been packed in the suitcase with the bomb. 

D.  The bomb was said to have been detonated by an electronic timer which was one of a bespoke batch of only 20 items supplied to the Libyan military by a manufacturer with whom Mr. al-Megrahi subsequently had unrelated business dealings.

Allegation 1

This relates to point B above. The witness who testified to having seen Mr. al-Megrahi and Mr. Fhimah with the suspicious-looking suitcase was one Majid Giaka, a Libyan national who had worked for the Libyan security services and who was a CIA informer. 

Giaka was originally the Crown’s star witness, and without his evidence it is likely that the indictments would not have been issued against the Libyan suspects in the first place. 

Giaka’s testimony was originally contained in contemporaneous cables sent by his CIA handlers to Washington when he provided the crucial evidence - mainly in 1991. These cables were presented in court in a severely redacted form, raising the question of whether the redacted passages might contain information damaging to the Crown case. 

In June 2000 members of the prosecution team were for the first time allowed by the American lawyers present to see the cables in an un-redacted form. The defence applied to the Bench to have similar sight of the cables, however this request was strenuously opposed by the prosecution. 

During the course of the discussion of this matter, Lord Coulsfield specifically asked the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd whether the redacted passages contained anything which might possibly bear on the credibility of the witness Majid Giaka. 

The Lord Advocate then consulted a colleague on the prosecution team who had had personal sight of the un-redacted cables.

After receiving his reply, the Lord Advocate informed the Bench that “.... there is nothing within these documents which relates to Lockerbie or the bombing of Pan Am 103 which could in any way impinge on the credibility of Majid on these matters.”

Despite this assurance the Bench did in fact order the un-redacted cables to be provided to the defence team. The contents of the redacted passages demonstrated Giaka to be entirely untrustworthy, and by referring to these passages Mr. Taylor for the defence was able to mount a successful challenge to the credibility and reliability of Giaka’s testimony. 

It is abundantly clear that the reassurance given to the Lord Advocate and passed on by him to the Court was wholly false. It was accepted by the court that there was no evidence at all to connect either accused to a brown hard-shell suitcase, at Luqa or anywhere else.

1.  This provides  prima facie evidence of an attempt to pervert the course of justice on the part of those members of the prosecution team who were aware of the contents of the redacted cables, and gave the Lord Advocate information they knew to be false, knowing that he in his turn would communicate this false information to the Court.

These facts have been in the public domain since June 2000, and it is unclear why no action has ever been taken against those members of the legal profession responsible.

Allegations 2, 3 and 4 

These relate to point A above. The evidence relied on to support the contention that the bomb suitcase had travelled unaccompanied to Heathrow from Malta via Frankfurt was extremely tenuous. 

Other evidence suggested the bomb had in fact been introduced directly into the baggage container while it was sitting unattended in the interline shed at Heathrow airport, but this was patchy and incomplete, and the Crown was successful in persuading the judges to discount this in favour of their preferred Malta theory. 

However, additional evidence relating to Heathrow which was not presented in court can be seen to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the bomb suitcase was indeed placed in the container at Heathrow over an hour before the feeder flight from Frankfurt landed. 

Allegation 4 deals with the fact that the Lockerbie inquiry ignored compelling evidence of the bomb being introduced at Heathrow, which was in its possession within a few weeks of the disaster. This evidence was so clear-cut it could not have been overlooked by mere incompetence, however the extraordinarily promising lead was not followed up and appears to have been actively suppressed. 

Allegation 3 deals with the concealing of one specific statement in this context, the evidence of the Heathrow security guard Raymond Manly who discovered a break-in into the airside area of Terminal 3 about 18 hours before Pan Am 103 departed from that terminal.

That evidence was effectively buried within three days of the statement being taken, so that it never formed any part of the understanding of the case, and was not disclosed to the defence in 1999-2000. 

Allegation 2 deals with the way the Heathrow evidence was handled by the Crown at Camp Zeist. At the Fatal Accident Inquiry in 1990-91, evidence was heard demonstrating that a brown Samsonite hard-shell suitcase had been placed in the corner of the container where the explosion later occurred, at least an hour before the Frankfurt flight landed, and that this suitcase had not been moved when the Frankfurt luggage was added on top of it. 

It was also demonstrated that none of the legitimate luggage routed to the container in the terminal at Heathrow was a brown Samsonite hard-shell.

Why, then, was that suitcase not the bomb? 

There were two main reasons. One was that the mysterious brown Samsonite was on the floor of the container and forensic evidence suggested that the bomb suitcase had been on the second layer. The suitcase on the second layer came from the Frankfurt flight. 

The second was that the FAI had no idea how weak the evidence was as regards the bomb suitcase having passed through Frankfurt airport.

The Crown revealed nothing of that aspect, on the grounds of protecting the ongoing inquiry, while at the same time urging the finding that the bomb “was among the bags from Flight 103A which arrived at Heathrow from Frankfurt.” 

The sheriff went along with the Crown submission and discounted the Heathrow evidence. 

When the prosecution received the evidence against Megrahi and Fhimah in 1999 and began to prepare its case for Camp Zeist, this material was re-evaluated. It must have been clear that the suitcase seen at Heathrow was the bomb.

The conclusion that the bomb suitcase had been on the second layer of luggage was far from certain. All six legitimate suitcases placed in the container before the feeder flight landed were recovered, none of them was a brown Samsonite hard-shell, and none of them had sustained damage consistent with its being under the bomb suitcase.

In addition, the mix of blast-damaged suitcase fragments consisted only of legitimate Frankfurt and Heathrow passenger luggage, and the bomb suitcase, with no sign of any other stray unidentified item in the middle of it all, brown Samsonite or not.

If the full set of relevant evidence had been presented in court, the conclusion that the bomb was introduced at Heathrow beyond reasonable doubt would have been inevitable. 

The Crown did not present all the relevant evidence. The results of the baggage investigation were with-held, so that the court did not know whose luggage was legitimately loaded in the container at Heathrow, what it looked like, what damage it had sustained, or even how many such items there were. This allowed the possibility that the mysterious brown Samsonite seen at Heathrow had been legitimate passenger luggage. 

In addition, despite the findings of the FAI having relied absolutely on the fact that the original Heathrow-loaded items had not been moved when the Frankfurt luggage was added, this scenario was reversed. 

The man who actually loaded the Frankfurt luggage, who had denied moving the original items in three separate police statements and again in the witness box at the FAI, was not called to give evidence. 

Instead the prosecution presented a scenario suggesting that the original Heathrow items had been randomly shuffled among the Frankfurt luggage during the tarmac transfer, thus allowing the possibility that the mystery suitcase had been moved out of the radius of the explosion, and so explaining the absence of any trace of an innocent unidentified item which might have been under the bomb.

The judges at Camp Zeist accepted this scenario, and helpfully consigned the embarrassing brown Samsonite to “some more remote corner of the container”.  

JfM believes that the conduct of the Crown prosecution in this matter goes beyond mere “sharp practice” and amounts to an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

Allegations 5, 6 and 7 

These relate to point D above. Many commentators have suggested that the fragment of printed circuit board (PCB) held to be part of one of the 20 unique MST-13 electronic timers supplied to Libya in 1985-86 was fabricated by the authorities and planted in the evidence to incriminate Libya in the atrocity.

JfM makes no such allegation. 

The allegations in relation to this item of evidence (known as PT/35b) are in respect of the metallurgical analysis of the coating on its circuitry, and the comparison of this analysis with that of control PCBs from the same manufacturing batch. This analysis demonstrated that the evidential fragment, though visually identical to the corresponding area of the MST-13 timer PCB, could not have been from one of the 20 such items supplied to Libya. 

Allegation 5 deals with a specific untruth told under oath by a Crown forensic witness. This witness oversaw metallurgical analyses of both PT/35b and a control PCB which clearly demonstrated the crucial discrepancy - that the coating of the circuitry on the evidential fragment was pure tin, while that of the control PCB was a tin/lead alloy. 

Not only was he aware of the discrepancy, he demonstrated his awareness of its significance by annotating the test results with speculative theories attempting to explain this as an effect of the explosion. Nevertheless when he compiled his final report on these tests he omitted all mention of the discrepancy, instead stating that the fragment materials were “similar in all respects to the area around the connection pad for the output relay of the ‘MST-13’ timer.”

He repeated this assertion in the witness box at Camp Zeist. 

Allegation 7 deals with similar knowledge on the part of the police investigation, which arose from the results of independent tests carried out for the police by academic experts. These tests revealed the same findings, and before the association with the MST-13 device was made by a CIA operative, Scottish police expended some effort to trace a manufacturer who produced PCBs with a pure tin coating, without success. 

JfM believes that it was incumbent on the investigating officers, who were already aware of the significance of this finding in relation tithe manufacturing process, to ascertain whether the company which manufactured the PCBs for the MST-13 timers had used a pure tin coating. (It was discovered by the defence team in 2008 that the company concerned did not have the manufacturing capacity to produce PCBs with a pure tin coating, and the PCBs in all the MST-13 timers supplied to Libya were made with an alloy coating.) 

Allegation 6 deals with the failure to disclose critical evidence to the defence. The metallurgical analysis referred to under allegation 5 and its associated annotations were not disclosed, with the defence being permitted to see only the final report which the forensic witness referred to in court.

In addition the police memo which described the earlier testing of the fragment and the search for a manufacturer capable of producing tin-coated PCBs was not disclosed.

Lacking this information, the defence were unable to mount an effective counter to the prosecution’s assertion that the fragment PT/35b was a part of one of the MST-13 timer devices supplied to Libya.

Allegation 8 

This relates to point C above. The many and varied problems with the identification of Mr. al-Megrahi as “resembling” the man who bought the clothes packed in the bomb suitcase have been widely discussed, and formed a substantial part of the SCCRC’s grounds for appeal as communicated in 2007.

The identification process has been heavily criticised by three separate expert witness reports in the public domain. JfM believes that aspects of the handling of the identification witness Tony Gauci by the police investigation were manifestly at variance with any principles of fairness to the accused. 

The position of the defence 

The defence handled some of these issues well, and others less so. In some cases the failure of the Crown to disclose exculpatory evidence clearly played some part in their difficulties. Other points appear not to have been challenged because they were not seen as being as damaging as they eventually turned out to be.

Beyond that, it is clear that the defence missed a number of tricks, probably as a result of being overwhelmed with an enormous amount of material which had to be assimilated and analysed in a limited period of time. 

What must be appreciated is that in the context of investigator and/or prosecutorial misconduct, the fact that this worked, and that the defence and bench alike were bamboozled into accepting false scenario, is no defence. Saying “but the defence had the opportunity to spot that, and didn’t” does not excuse or mitigate an attempt to pervert the course of justice. 

Summary 

While allegations 1 and 5 represent the most clear-cut examples of misconduct (with point 5 obviously being an allegation of perjury), we would point out that it is within allegations 2, 3 and 4 that the real destruction of the Zeist conviction lies. 

If the Lockerbie bomb was introduced into the baggage container at Heathrow airport at around 4.30 pm on the afternoon of 21st December 1988, which it undoubtedly was, this entirely confounds the Crown case.

Indeed, it provides Mr. al-Megrahi with an alibi, as he was verifiably in Tripoli at that time. Not only did he not purchase the clothes in the bomb suitcase, he was not at the airport when the bomb suitcase was introduced into the baggage system. 

The Committee ofJustice for Megrahi, December 20124
  for the MST-13 timers had used a pure tin coating. (It was discovered by the defence team in2008 that the company concerned did not have the manufacturing capacity to produce PCBswith a pure tin coating, and the PCBs in all the MST-13 timers supplied to Libya were made withan alloy coating.) Allegation 6 deals with the failure to disclose critical evidence to the defence. The metallurgicalanalysis referred to under allegation 5 and its associated annotations were not disclosed, withthe defence being permitted to see only the final report which the forensic witness referred toin court. In addition the police memo which described the earlier testing of the fragment andthe search for a manufacturer capable of producing tin-coated PCBs was not disclosed.Lacking this information, the defence were unable to mount an effective counter to the prose-cution’s assertion that the fragment PT/35b was a part of one of the MST-13 timer devicessupplied to Libya.Allegation 8 ascommunicated in 2007. The identification process has been heavily criticised by three separateexpert witness reports in the public domain JfM believes that aspects of the handling of theidentification witness Tony Gauci by the police investigation were manifestly at variance withany principles of fairness to the accused.

The position of the defence

The defence handled some of these issues well, and others less so. In some cases the failureof the Crown to disclose exculpatory evidence clearly played some part in their difficulties.Other points appear not to have been challenged because they were not seen as being asdamaging as they eventually turned out to be. Beyond that, it is clear that the defence misseda number of tricks, probably as a result of being overwhelmed with an enormous amount of material which had to be assimilated and analysed in a limited period of time.What must be appreciated is that in the context of investigator and/or prosecutorial misconduct,the fact that this

worked 

, and that the defence and bench alike were bamboozled into acceptinga false scenario, is no defence. Saying “but the defence had the opportunity to spot that, anddidn’t” does not excuse or mitigate an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

Summary

While allegations 1 and 5 represent the most clear-cut examples of misconduct (with point 5obviously being an allegation of perjury), we would point out that it is within allegations 2, 3 and4 that the real destruction of the Zeist conviction lies. If the Lockerbie bomb was introduced intothe baggage container at Heathrow airport at around 4.30 pm on the afternoon of 21 Decem-

st

ber 1988, which it undoubtedly was, this entirely confounds the Crown case. Indeed, it providesMr. al-Megrahi with an alibi, as he was verifiably in Tripoli at that time. Not only did he notpurchase the clothes in the bomb suitcase, he was not at the airport when the bomb suitcasewas introduced into the baggage system.The Committee of Justice for Megrahi, December 2012