Thursday 1 September 2016

Multi-million dollar payment to Lockerbie identification witness.

On this day, 1st September 1989, the sole identification witness in the Lockerbie trial, Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci, met with a police investigation team headed by Detective Chief Inspector Harry Bell.

$3 million to imprison an innocent man.
Baset al-Megrahi on his deathbed.

At this first meeting Gauci offered a vague account of a customer who had come into his shop to buy an assortment of clothes. In no way did it resemble the convicted Libyan al-Megrahi.

Gauci's next two interviews were on the 14th and 26th of that month. Neither indicated that al-Megrahi was the purchaser of the clothes.

Two days later on the 28th of that month, Bell wrote in his police diary that "The US Department of Justice are prepared to offer unlimited money to Tony Gauci, with $10,000 available immediately."

The purpose of the "immediately available" $10,000 was clear. Gauci could draw on it for his immediate use. There can be no other interpretation.
Tony Gauci's shop in Malta

These three interviews would be the first of many extending over two years, each interview adding more and more detail. Only in February 1991 did Gauci finally say "he resembles the man a lot".

Every discussion at which money was mentioned was recorded in Bell's diary. But he concealed this diary from the trial judges and the defence team. It was discovered in 2007, six years after the conclusion of the trial and a subsequent appeal.

At the conclusion of the trial Tony Gauci was paid $2 million and his brother Paul Gauci $1 million.

But what did Tony have to do to get the money to be shared between himself and his brother? In the words of the US Department of Justice, "only if he gives evidence".

Since the original 1991 indictment against al-Megrahi was substantially based on eye witness evidence by Tony Gauci it was clear what that evidence would be. It would prove that al-Megrahi was guilty.