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Lockerbie: J'accuse
Latest developments from the first session of the Abdelbaset Megrahi appeal
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2009-05-10 10:18 (KST)   

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The Lockerbie Appeal: Day One


"If the appeal is heard, there is not a snowball's chance in hell that the prosecution case will survive." -- Dr Jim Swire, father of Flora who died on Pan Am 103
In the first session of the appeal, which began April 28 and will run until May 22, the defense team is determined to thoroughly discredit the testimony of the main trial witness, Tony Gauci.

Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper, is said to have identified Abdelbaset Megrahi as the Libyan man who bought, on Dec. 7, 1988, the clothes inside which the bomb that exploded on Pan Am 103 was hidden.

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On the basis of old evidence, new evidence and evidence not heard at the trial because it had not been passed to the defense at the time, Maggie Scott, QC, will, in all likelihood, easily convince the five appeal judges that Megrahi is not the man who bought the clothes and that the purchase occurred on Nov. 23, 1988, when there is no evidence suggesting that Megrahi was on the island and when he has an alibi.

A Dubious Identification

On Nov. 18, 1991, the US Dept. of State issued a "fact sheet" regarding the indictment of Libyan citizens Megrahi and Fimah for their alleged role in the bombing of Pan Am 103 on Dec. 21, 1988.

The sheet reads: In February 1991, Megrahi was described "resembling the Libyan who purchased the clothing items... most likely on Dec. 7, 1988."

On Feb. 15, 1991, Gauci was shown some photographs and failed to identify Megrahi. When asked to concentrate on his picture - a leading procedure to say the least -- Gauci correctly pointed out that the man on the picture was in his 30s while maintaining that the man who had bought the clothing items was very much older.

Previously, on Sept. 13, 1989, during a photofit session, Gauci stated that the buyer was about 50 years old. Born on April 1, 1952, Megrahi was 36 in late 1988. The next day, Gauci again told Detective Chief Inspector Bell that Megrahi was too young to be the man who bought the clothing.

"If the man in the photograph was older by about 20 years, he would look like the man who bought the clothing," Gauci told DCI Bell.

In his first interview held on Sept. 1, 1989, Gauci told DCI Bell that the mysterious buyer was 6 feet tall or more. Megrahi is 5 feet 8, a significant discrepancy considering that it comes from a man who sells clothes for a living.

The trial judges were well aware of this striking discrepancy but they failed to provide any explanation as to how it was resolved.

A Fraudulent Line-Up

During an identity parade held at Camp Zeist in 1999, Gauci pointed out that Megrahi resembles the man who bought the clothing items.

In the line up, Megrahi was the only Libyan and was surrounded by people in their 30s and 5 feet 3 tall, i.e. people who at the time of the event would have been about 30 years younger and at least 9 inches shorter than the person originally and repeatedly described by Gauci.

Wrong Date

Regarding the day of the purchase, Tony Gauci remembered that his brother Paul had gone home earlier to watch an evening football game (Rome vs. Dresden), that the man came just before closing time, around 7 p.m., and that there was some very light raining. (The man returned to the shop to buy an umbrella.) The game allows for only two dates: Nov. 23 or Dec. 7, 1988.

The game Rome-Dresden on Dec. 7 was played at 1 p.m., not in the evening. As a result, Paul Gauci thought that the purchases had occurred on Nov. 23, 1988.

And there is more. It did not rain on Sliema on Dec. 7, 1988. Mark Vella, the managing director of METEO-MALTA, told the author that their records - including satellite pictures -- unambiguously indicate that it did not rain on Sliema on Dec. 7. On the other hand, Vella could confirm that it was dripping during the evening of Nov. 23, 1988. (NB. Official copies of their records are available.)

When asked to try to assess the most likely day of the purchase by DCI Bell, Tony Gauci stated: "I've been asked to again try and pinpoint the day and date that I sold the man the clothing. I can only say it was a weekday. There were no Christmas decorations up, as I have already said, and I believe it was at the end of November."

During a three years long investigation, the SCCRC has established that the Christmas lights are put up in Sliema on Dec. 6, ruling out Dec. 7 as the date of the purchase.

New Witness

The defense has identified a person, not heard at the trial, who witnessed the purchase of the clothing items. Although he has not been named by the defense, I understand that the witness is David Wright, a longtime friend of the Gauci family.

Wright told the police in September and December 1989 that the purchase occurred Nov. 23 and that the buyer was not Megrahi. His interview was not passed to the defense team at the time of the trial.

During the first session of the appeal, which, there will be no new witnesses. "Any new witnesses, if the Appeal Court allows them to be heard -- and the rules about fresh evidence in appeals are very restrictive -- will only feature in later sessions," writes Pr. Black.

Last Pajamas

In a phone interview conducted on Jan. 25, 2008, Tony Gauci stated that the three pairs of pajamas he sold to the mysterious buyer were the last from the 16 delivered from the John Mallia Company on Oct. 31, 1988.

On the following day, Tony Gauci called the Mallia Company to order an additional 8 pairs which were delivered 24 hours later.

In Malta, Dec. 8 is a public holiday as the mostly Catholic country celebrates Immaculate Conception Day. As a matter of fact, John Mallia Co. was closed on Dec. 8, again ruling out Dec. 7 as the day of the purchase.

Missing Statements

According to a well informed source, the defense will establish that contradictory statements made by Gauci were not passed to the defense team at the Zeist trial.

Payments

The defense will also establish that the Gauci brothers were paid a large amount of money in exchange for helping the conviction of Megrahi and that the defense had not been informed regarding the payments themselves or the promise of rewards.

The Slalom Shirts

Although it has not yet been announced, I understand that the defense will also question the origin of the Slalom shirts alleged to have been sold by Tony Gauci to the mysterious buyer.

This issue is of paramount importance as forensic experts claimed to have discovered in the collar of one of these shirts the fragment of an electronic timer which provided the key link between the bombing and Libya. (NB. This writer has never quite understood how the size of the breast pocket did not match the size of the collar of the shirt recovered at Lockerbie, but that is another story.)

During his first interview with DCI Bell, Tony Gauci made a list of the items he had sold to the mysterious buyer. The list matched exactly the items that forensic experts at RARDE believed to have been in direct contact with the bomb, except for a black umbrella that they eventually "identify". On that day - Sept. 1, 1989 -- Gauci made no mention of the Slalom shirts.

On Jan. 30, 1990, Gauci was shown a SLALOM shirt and was asked if he had sold one to the mysterious buyer. "That man did not buy any shirt, I am sure," Gauci stated to the investigators.

Then, on Sept. 10, 1990, Gauci suddenly recalled selling two Slalom shirts. It is not just odd, but contradicts a statement Gauci made on his first interview and repeated at the trial.

During his first interview, Gauci told DCI Bell that he remembered that the bill amounted to 76.5 Maltese pounds (LM). Gauci even clearly remembered that the man paid him with eight 10 LM bills, and that he returned 4 LM as he was not able to give a half pound in change.

Quite logically, DCI Bell then asked him to check the price of all the items he had just mentioned. And, lo and behold, the sum added to 76.5 LM... without any Slalom shirt. Had Gauci sold two shirts to the mysterious buyer, the bill would have been 84.5 LM.

Obviously, if the SLALOM shirt is a fabrication, so must be the items discovered inside it, including the infamous fragment of the MST-13 timer.

According to Richard Marquise who led the US investigation, without this key piece of evidence, there would have been no indictment. Let us now take a good look at this crucial piece of evidence.

The Third MST13 Prototype

In the summer of 1985, Ulrich Lumpert designed a timer at the request of his employers Bollier and Meister, founders and directors of Mebo, a Swiss electronic company located in Zurich.

Lumpert built manually 3 prototypes on a brown, 8-ply board. Two were delivered to a front company of the STASI and the third one was allegedly destroyed.

In 1988, at the request of Libyan Intelligence officials, MEBO delivered 20 MST13 timers. The electronic boards of these 20 timers were identical, machine-made on a green 9-ply board. (See LDB001) Although hey bear obvious resemblance with the three initial prototypes, they can easily be distinguished from them.

In January 1989, the Lockerbie investigators found part of the collar of a SLALOM shirt, identical to one of the two shirts allegedly bought by Megrahi in Malta on Dec. 7, 1988. See LDB002. (NB. The discovery, made on Jan. 13, was not recorded until Jan. 17.)

Board of the machine made MST13 timer delivered to Libya
Part of a SLALOM shirt in which PT35(b) was found
The Discovery of PT35(b)

Initially, the evidence bag containing the collar of the SLALOM shirt was labeled "CLOTH" by Thomas Gilchrist. At a time unknown, the label was overwritten with the word "DEBRIS". The proper procedure would have been to cross the initial label and write the new one under it. Instead, DEBRIS was written over CLOTH in a way that makes the old label unnoticeable, unless the label is magnified.

The "DEBRIS" was then "discovered" on May 12, 1989 by Dr. Hayes and labeled PT35(b). The discovery is documented on a second page 51, a loose page stapled to his notebook. Items entered several months later have been given a lower evidence number. All pages from 51 to 55 were renumbered. When asked about these anomalies, Dr. Hayes simply answered that it was an "unfathomable mystery".

The Identification of MST13

On June 15, 1990, while studying a picture of PT35(b), FBI Thomas Thurman was able - thanks to the CIA - to identify it as part of the MEBO MST13 delivered prior to the Lockerbie bombing to Libyan intelligence. See LDB003

There is a small glitch... It is obvious that the fragment PT35(b) does not come from one of the 20 machine-made MST13 timer delivered to Libya. The location of the T shaped touch pad, its absolute and relative dimensions do not match. Moreover the curvature of the fragment round edge equally differs. Compare LDB003(a) and LDB003(b)!

Identification of PT35(b) as part of a MST13 timer made by FBI agent Thurman
Magnification of PT35(b) from LDB003
Magnification of the MST13 from LDB003
Nevertheless, the design is very close and must have the same origin. And this brings us back to the Lumpert affidavit...

The Lumpert Affidavit

"I confirm today on July 18, 2007, that I stole the third hand-manufactured MST-13 timer PC-board consisting of eight layers of fiber-glass from MEBO Ltd. and gave it without permission on June 22, 1989, to a person officially investigating in the Lockerbie case," Lumpert wrote.

"It did not escape me that the MST-13 fragment shown [at the Lockerbie trial] on the police photograph No. PT/35(b) came from the nonoperational MST-13 prototype PC-board that I had stolen," Lumpert added.

On June 6, 2008, Lumpert told the author that he gave the third timer prototype Swiss Commissioner Peter Fluckiger who requested the device at the demand of a "friendly intelligence agency."

A BUPO [Swiss federal police] note concerning the second interview of Inspector Fluckiger with the MEBO company, Badenerstrasse 414, third floor, 8004 Zurich, on Tuesday Oct. 2 1990 states: "After greeting each other and carrying out a general discussion regarding the crisis in the Gulf and its potential consequences for MEBO business, there was a project to develop a new radio network in Kuwait. We then began to discuss business contacts with Libya with reference to the discussion of the 22nd of June 1989."

Commissioner Peter Fluckiger has admitted that he visited MEBO on June 22, 1989. Fluckiger was indeed alone with Lumpert on June 22 1989. Bollier confirmed to the author that neither himself nor Meister were at the office that day.

It would appear that the Crown was well aware that the June 1989 meeting at MEBO clearly contradicts the official version of the Lockerbie investigation, as the following exchange between Mr. Turnbull and Peter Fluckiger at the trial indicates.
Q: Thank you. Now, these photographs you had with you when you went to visit Mr. Bollier on the 2nd of October of 1990?

A: Yes. This photograph and the one we saw earlier. (NB. The photographs of PT35b and the MST13 board)

Q: Thank you. In your memo, which we looked at a moment ago -- and perhaps we should have it back on the screen, Production 1562, image 4. In your note here you speak, I think, in the first paragraph about a previous meeting; is that so?

A: That is correct. Yes.

Q: What was the date of the previous meeting?

A: I don't remember this by heart, but I can read it here. I wrote down 22nd of June 1989. It would have been on that date.

Q: Thank you. Was that previous meeting in connection with MST-13 timers?

MR. BURNS: Don't answer that question.
The question the author wishes to put to Richard Marquise is this: If PT35(b) was identified as a fragment of a MEBO MST13 timer on June 15, 1990 by FBI Thurman, what was Commissioner Fluckiger doing at the MEBO offices on June 22, 1989?

CIA Interference

On Nov. 15, 1990, Scottish Detective William Williamson and his colleagues visited MEBO. Prior to his visit, the CIA requested MI6 to "deter or delay the members of the Lockerbie inquiry team from making the visit."

As MI6 was unable to do so, CIA agents met with Swiss Intelligence and police services on Nov. 14, 1990. Detective Williamson was never told about that meeting, let alone about its nature.

Again, the Crown appears to be well aware of the significance of this secret meeting, as the following exchange between Keen and Williamson reveals very clearly.
Q: Now, Mr. Williamson, were you made aware of these steps to deter or delay the members of the Scottish Lockerbie inquiry team from making the visit to Switzerland?

A: Absolutely not, sir.

Q: These were never disclosed to you?

A: I have no knowledge of that information you've just read out whatsoever.

Q: Was it disclosed to you that the day before you met with the Swiss police and intelligence services on the first visit the CIA had already met with them?

MR. TURNBULL: Don't answer that.
PS: Following the initial visit of DCI Harry Bell to Malta in September 1989, RARDE scientists looked for a black umbrella that would show traces of explosive residue. On Oct. 3, 1989, RARDE "scientist" Allen Feraday identified part of a black umbrella (evidence number PK/206) that had been in direct contact with the explosion. EUREKA! But again, there is a small problem. The log book indicates that PK/206 was at RARDE Laboratory only from Jan. 16 to Feb. 8, 1989. How did Allen Feraday conduct on Oct. 3, 1989, an experiment on an item which was not in his possession?


The author encourages the readers to sign the Petition to Release Megrahi. Ludwig De Braeckeleer has a Ph.D. in Nuclear Sciences. Ludwig teaches physics and International Humanitarian Law. Ludwig can be reached at: dr.ludwig@hotmail.com
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ludwig De Braeckeleer

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