[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.
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.
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.
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.
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