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'Lockerbie Witnesses Were Paid'
Despite years of US government denials, new evidence and admissions have come to light
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Print Article 
Published 2009-02-11 12:47 (KST)   

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Now it appears there is a blustery effort on the part of the Clinton administration to convince the skeptics it is finally getting serious. First, there was the unveiling of the WANTED poster, featuring a photograph of the two Libyans on the inside lid of a suitcase laden with $4 million cash bounty... Those who financed and planned the deadliest ever terrorist attack on American citizens continue to remain unindicted. The remarkable silence invites suspicion that the US government is engaged in little more than another calculated effort to ignore the larger issues: Iran's motivations for revenge, and the US government's responsibility. -- US NAVY Captain Dave Carlson, April 9 1995
In recent times, allegations have resurfaced regarding payments offered to key witnesses of the Lockerbie trial.

Specifically, there have been rumors that Majid Giaka, Paul and Tony Gaud were each paid about US$4 million for their help in the conviction of Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Scotland on Dec. 21, 1988.

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Additionally, another key witness, Edwin Bollier, claims that a FBI agent promised him the same amount if he could help with the investigation.

Richard Marquise, the FBI agent who led the Lockerbie investigation, forcefully denied that witnesses were ever offered any money.

"I can assure you that no witnesses were ever offered any money by anyone--including the CIA," Marquise told OhmyNews. "This issue came up at trial and I spoke with the defense lawyers about it in Edinburgh in 1999 -- before trial. No one was promised or even told that they could get money for saying anything. Every FBI agent was under specific orders not to mention money to any potential witness."

Frank Skroski from the US Marshals Service at trial testified about money which may have been paid to Magid Giaka. Skroski said, other than food, shelter and clothing, no money was ever paid to him.

"If it is Bollier who is making the allegations, I will say again. He was not offered or paid any money -- ever. We did pay for his trip to the US in 1991," Marquise told OhmyNews.

In a formal statement, FBI spokesman Richard Kolko emphatically rejected any suggestions of a payoff.

"Any accusations that any witness was paid to lie are complete fabrications and these ridiculous statements should be immediately discounted as the untruths they are," Kolko said. "That is not the way the FBI operates."

A CIA spokesperson ridiculed a witness's accusations that it offered or paid Edwin Bollier anything. "It may disappoint the conspiracy buffs, but the CIA doesn't belong in your story."

Richard marquise confirmed to OhmyNews that the bureau met with Bollier in Washington in 1991, and that he personally attended the meeting. But marquise denied Bollier was offered anything to implicate Libya.

Edwin Bollier tells OhmyNews that he was shown a size A4 light-grey brochure. According to Bollier, the document is printed on one side only and displays two suit-cases with dollar note bundles, overwritten with "reward $4 million." The text and illustrations are printed in black.

A source speaking on condition of anonymity told Jeff Stein, the national security editor of the Congressional Quarterly, that a key witness, Tony Gauci, and his brother were each paid somewhere between $3 million to $4 million for providing information leading to the conviction of Megrahi.

Moreover, former State Department lawyer Michael Scharf confirmed to OhmyNews that rewards were paid in the context of the Lockerbie trial.

"I knew that rewards payments were made, but not the amount. The Awards for Terrorism Information program has been around since the 1980s, and has been expanded to rewards for information leading to the arrest or conviction of international indicted war criminals like Karadzic and Mladic. When I worked at the Office of the Legal Adviser of the State Department I was involved in the program," Scharf wrote in an email to OhmyNews.

"As I understand it, the amount and payment of the individual rewards are not discussed with the witness until after the conviction so as to prevent this from giving the defense ammunition to discredit witnesses at trial. I don't think this is a bad policy if it's handled correctly."

Dr Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the disaster, feels otherwise about this arguable method. "America usually seems to think that her laws should be accepted world-wide without question," Swire wrote to the author.

"America may believe it legal to pay witnesses in advance, or worse to dangle financial inducements before them 'if their performance in court is adequate.'"

"Might it not amount to perversion of justice: or maybe there is such a charge as action likely to destroy the impartiality of the court: contempt of court perhaps? Certainly in the UK, attempts to influence the witnesses before a criminal trial attract heavy custodial sentences," Swire said.

Pr Black, often referred to as the architect of the Lockerbie trial, agrees. "The issue of payments made or promised to witnesses forms an important part of the Grounds of Appeal," Black told the author.

"At one time in Scotland, if payment had been made, or promised, to a witness that was an absolute bar to his giving evidence. Today, it is simply a factor that must be taken into account in assessing his credibility. However, in order for this to be done, it is necessary that the court should know that the payment was made or promised. Failure by the Crown to disclose the promise or the payment is a serious breach of their duty to the court and to the administration of justice," Black said.
I
Majid Giaka became a CIA asset around Aug. 14, 1988. He was the CIA star witness at the trial and testified that he had seen the two Libyans convicted of the bombing bringing the suitcase containing the IED on Dec. 20, 1988, at Luka airport Malta.

In their opinion, the judges stated that Giaka's evidence - that he saw the pair with a large brown case at Luqa airport - was "at best grossly exaggerated and at worst untrue," and "largely motivated by financial considerations."

"It was a trial where everybody agreed ahead of time that they were just going to focus on these two guys, and they were the fall guys," Scharf believes.

A CIA Cable, written during the summer of 1989, reveals that Giaka knew nothing of value to the CIA, let alone information regarding the bombing of Pan Am 103. "Giaka will also be told that we will only continue his salary through the end of 1989. If Giaka is not able to demonstrate sustained and defined access to information of intelligence value by January 1990, the CIA will cease all salary and financial support until such access can be proven," the cable reads.

Former CIA Vincent Cannistraro has described Giaka as "a slug." "Mr. Giaka, you are a liar, aren't you? Mr. Giaka, you tell big lies and you tell small lies, but you lie, do you not?" Richard Keen QC asked him at the trial.

According to John Mosey, who also lost a daughter on the plane, and Dr Swire, US DoJ officials were communicating with witnesses at the trial. "It looked to me like coaching as to whether their answers should be positive or negative," Dr Swire told OhmyNews.

US attorneys Brian Murtagh and Dana Biehl were representatives of their nation's Department of Justice at the trial. Murtagh drew up the indictment against Al-Megrahi and Fhimah. The two would sit close to the prosecution team, and pass across advisory notes and legal papers, or to lean over with whispered advice.

"For a person, other than the advocate examining him at the time, to attempt to communicate with a witness in the witness box in such a way as to influence his evidence, is both contempt of court and the crime of attempting to pervert the course of justice," Pr Black argues.

"The defence believed that Murtagh and Biehl were engaging in such behaviour, particularly when Giaka was in the witness box. They brought their concerns to the attention of the court, which simply noted them and took no further action," Pr Black adds.

As Giaka was desperately seeking help from Murtagh and Biehl, Fimah lawyer asked if he could see him. "You will not get help from there," Keen added.

The other key witness was Tony Gauci, a shopkeeper in Malta, who "identified" Megrahi as the person who bought the clothes in which the Toshiba bomb radio was wrapped.

In fact, Gauci never identified Megrahi. He simply stated that the man who bought the clothes resembles him. But Gauci added that the man was in his 50s while Megrahi was in his thirties at the time. Gauci stated that the buyer was 6 feet tall while Megrahi is 5 feet 8. As a former British diplomat recently pointed out to the author, a man who spent his life selling clothes can be trusted when he describes the size of a customer.

Gauci stated that the man had bought the clothes on Dec. 7 when Megrahi was on the island. At the Lockerbie trial, Gauci told the Judges that the decoration lights were on. "Yes, they were '" up." In Malta, the lights are put on Dec. 6. But, on Sept. 19, 1989, Gauci had stated that "the Christmas decorations were not up when the man bought the clothing."

Other statements are no less troubling. Regarding the shirt in which former FBI Thomas Thurman fragment of the timer linking the bomb to Libya, Gauci stated on Jan. 30, 1990: "That time when the man came, I am sure I did not sell him a shirt."

Then, on Sept. 10, 1990, he told the investigators that: "I now remember that the man who bought the clothing also bought a 'Slalom' shirt." According to Marcello Mega, two of his testimonies have disappeared.

"Gauci was not quite the full shilling. I think even his family would say that he was an apple short of a picnic. He was quite a tricky guy, I don't think he was deliberately lying but if you asked him the same question three times he would just get irritated and refuse to answer," Former Lord Advocate Peter Fraser wrote on Oct. 23, 2005.

The US State Department acknowledged that rewards were paid. "A reward was paid out in the Lockerbie Pan Am 103 case," a spokesperson there said on condition of anonymity, "but due to operational and security concerns we are not disclosing details regarding specific amounts, sources or types of assistance the sources provided."

Interestingly, the name of Megrahi recently disappeared from the Reward for Justice Website shortly before Secretary of State C. Rice went to Tripoli.

Hans Koechler, a United Nations observer at the trial, has criticized the presence and role-played by Brian Murtagh and Dana Biehl inside the court. He also believes that Intelligence agencies have manipulated the investigation.

"Proper judicial procedure is simply impossible if political interests and intelligence services -- from whichever side -- succeed in interfering in the actual conduct of a court... The purpose of intelligence services -- from whichever side -- lies in secret action and deception, not in the search for truth. Justice and the rule of law can never be achieved without transparency," argues Hans Koechler.

"The CIA and the FBI kept the State Department in the dark. It worked for them for us to be fully committed to the theory that Libya was responsible. It was largely based on this inside guy [Libyan defector Abdul Majid Giaka], Sharf said. "It wasn't until the trial that I learned this guy was a nut-job and that the CIA had absolutely no confidence in him and that they knew he was a liar," Scharf added.


Ludwig De Braeckeleer has a Ph.D. in nuclear sciences. Ludwig teaches physics and international humanitarian law. He blogs on "The GaiaPost." Ludwig can be reached at: dr.ludwig@hotmail.com
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ludwig De Braeckeleer

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