Wednesday 29 February 2012

The Transatlantic relationship

With the launch of John Ashton's book Megrahi: You are my Jury, once again we see a furor about what Kenny McKaskill said  to whom about the compassionate release of Al-Megrahi.  And once again the media and the entire Scottish Parliament totally miss the point.

In a closely argued section (pp 355-361) Ashton highlights a serious discrepancy in the evidence of British forensic scientist Allen Feraday.  Feraday's own hand-written notes and subsequent laboratory testing and further enquiries commissioned by the defence team prove that the electronic print on the alleged fragment of timer board found by Dr Thomas Hayes is not the same metal printed on the control MST-13 timer board supplied by manufacturers Thuring for the MEBO company.

Thuring made electronic circuit boards for a wide range of industries. MEBO were just one of their customers.

Feraday wrote that the Hayes fragment coating was 100% pure tin, but that the coating on a control sample board identical to those from which the Hayes fragment was said to originate was 70/30 Sn(tin)/Pb (lead).  

Two experts working for the prosecution explained the difference by speculating that the heat of the explosion could have evaporated all of the lead content on the Hayes fragment.   No tests were carried  out to back up this theory.

In 2008 the Thuring manager in charge of electronic timer manufacture in the 1980's, Urs Bonfadelli, confirmed to the Al-Megrahi defence team that all MST-13 timers made by Thuring used a 70/30% alloy.  None used pure tin.  Bonfadelli later confirmed this in an affidavit.

Tests were then commissioned by two prominent experts in the field. These proved that the lead content of a 70/30 alloy would survive in extreme heat well beyond that created by the Lockerbie explosion.  In other words, the Lockerbie fragment could not have come from an MST-13 timer made by Thuring.

If it was not made by Thuring, then Libya was not responsible.  Suspicion must therefore turn towards the Jibril group, commissioned by Iran and paid $11m for the attack.

Suspicion must also turn to the question: Was the fragment specially manufactured to frame Al-Megrahi and Libya?

The Scottish Crown office disclosed this information to Al-Megrahi's defence team just prior to the commencement of the second appeal, abandoned at an early stage to enable Al-Megrahi's release on compassionate grounds.  It should, under rules of natural Scottish justice, have been available prior to the trial which took place in 2000. But it had lain in the files of the British forensic services and Crown Office for more than ten years.

If Iran was responsible, then the bomb which brought down Pan Am 103 was constructed by Marwan Khreesat, career master bomb maker for the PFLP-GC. Khreesat was a double agent working for Jordanian security, and rumoured to be a CIA asset.

In a set of hearsay notes recorded by the FBI and repeated during the Lockerbie trial, Khreesat claimed "He did not think he made the Lockerbie bomb". As a career mass-murderer and double and possibly triple agent, can we trust his word?  

But the Lockerbie trial judges - totally unaware of the true nature of the fragment presented to them as evidence - did trust his word.  Then let us ask for a moment what would have happened if they had not. If they had expressed doubt concerning the timer fragment, their verdict would have suggested that the bomb which killed 270 people at Lockerbie was constructed by a man working for Jordanian security and part-time for the CIA. 

Could the relationship between Britain and America have survived the shock?  And is this question not of far more import than a ministerial statement in a Scottish parliament?

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