Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Whole Lockerbie case must be reviewed

[This is the heading over three letters published in today's edition of The Scotsman. They read as follows:]

W Robert Durward (Letters, 10 August) points out that Megrahi's trial has never been officially acknowledged as a "travesty of justice". However, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) stated: "The commission is of the view that based upon our lengthy investigations, the new evidence we have found and other evidence which was not before the trial court, that the applicant may have suffered a miscarriage of justice."

If we take into consideration that this was the biggest mass murder committed in Scotland in modern times, many are rightly of the belief we should rigorously review the whole case and investigate fully the glaring fragility of the evidence used in the Camp Zeist trial.

If the Scottish criminal justice system made a mistake and jailed an innocent man, then it needs to be open and honest if it ever hopes to retain the confidence of the concerned Scottish public.
David Flett

Monday's STV documentary on Lockerbie was interesting in that Tony Kelly, Megrahi's lawyer, seemed bullish about the new evidence for the SCCRC appeal and especially the fact that Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper had been given £2 million for giving the evidence that was pivotal to Megrahi's conviction. The US government official would not comment on this, but it does raise some questions as to Gauci's impartiality.

Surely former lord advocate Lord Fraser was mistaken when he told the Sunday Times that "Gauci was not quite the full shilling. I think even his family would say (that he] was an apple short of a picnic". It would seem to me that Tony Gauci is very much "all there, and a wee bit mair", as they say in Fife. But whether justice was best served by this witness is another matter.
Tom Minogue

A year ago, at the height of the furore over the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber, Scotland was subjected to a barrage of (mostly ill-informed) hostile criticism from the United States.

At that time, you published a letter from me in which I suggested that, with Guantanamo Bay and extraordinary rendition as examples of US justice at work, it ill-suited Hillary Clinton, amongst others, to lecture Scotland on the operation of any justice system, let alone a compassionate one. I have waited in vain for someone of influence in Scotland to express similar views in public. At last, Cardinal Keith O'Brien has spoken out.

Rather than simply "welcoming" his views (your report, 9 August), is it not time for Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill to reiterate the words of Cardinal O'Brien on every possible occasion?
Alan R Irons

[The following is a letter published in today's edition of The Herald.]

Jim Swire’s is one of the most uplifting letters I have ever read in your columns (The Herald, August 10). It is a privilege to share the planet with him.

He has suffered as great a blow as anyone can – the loss of a very close relative through personal malicious violence – and yet no rancour is there.

Although he acknowledges that in American culture there is some aspect of vengeance, he does not brand them all so. He says US Lockerbie relatives are the same kind of people he has encountered here and have the same desires as he has. I think we are too ready to assign national attributes. I have many American relatives and friends, and when asked how I find Americans, I reply, some I like, a few I dislike but the great majority I do not know well enough either to like or dislike. That answer would also apply to other nationals I know well: Indians, English and Scots. I imagine it would also apply to those whom I only know in small numbers or have not yet met. Perceived national stereotypes are poor guides to behaviour.

The problem of determining the truth is a persistent one, but I feel a chimera. I have spent my working life in science where hypotheses are tested in the laboratory. Having observed the most plausible hypotheses turn out to be defective, I have little faith in any inquiry yielding the truth. If a well-equipped laboratory cannot be absolutely certain of its results, what chance is there of a committee coming to an ultimately valid conclusion when its evidence is not only volatile but dependent on human observation, not of the directed kind as in the laboratory, but rather of a casual view of an event not recognised as important at the time? Human memory, even at the best of times, is frail.

Perhaps the best we can do is, as Dr Swire suggests, have the incident looked at by a group in whom we can trust, but that will lead to a never-ending regress if we look for faults in its findings. As Dr Swire says, the relatives want closure.
Chris Parton

[As someone who yesterday spent over four hours in the company of Dr Swire and Rev John Mosey, I wish to record how wholeheartedly, in respect of each, I endorse the second sentence of Mr Parton's letter.]


  1. What a fabulous collection of letters!

  2. ......with the exception of Chris Parton's who once again is being lukewarm about the importance of the truth. He says science can't really change anything and, astonishinly, ignores the fact that a man - Megrahi - was caught up in the middle of it. He also ignores the SCCRC statement that a miscarriage of justice could have occurred. I'm not sure why Chris Parton is so anxious for everyone to move on without addressing that issue.

  3. It's interesting that such a wishy-washy opinion-based letter gets published, but the letter I sent on Sunday which was packed with facts about the case - especially Giaka and the way his evidence was obtained and discredited - didn't see the light of day.

  4. If you take OUT all the agencies and other entities who don't want to cooperate in an inquiry because you can't 'trust' them, and if you take OUT all the witnesses out of the inquiry because most of them were put up by the very agencies you can't trust, you are left with circumstantial evidence which is untrustworthy (for all the reasons which have been discussed previously) --- yet all of these things secured a conviction - there's not really much left. No revealed alibis, no new revelatory witnesses...nothing.

    I think some people just think pragmatically, "What's it really going to achieve?". Besides, Megrahi dropped his appeal - so it's not an appeal to overturn his verdict. So what is the remit of this inquiry?
    I watched the STV program, I was thinking, if that approximated to what a jury would have heard at Camp Zeist he would have been found guilty – no difference. What's to stop an inquiry not hearing the same old same old?
    It is abundantly clear listening to ALL parties who matter, there is no appetite for any sort of review, appeal, inquiry...whateva. It would take an earthquake.
    That may be sad, but that is where we are. I would be interested to hear from RB and others how the terrain is going to shift substantially.

  5. Well, a jury would have heard the defence case too! They would hardly have been in the position of merely being told that the bomb had travelled unccompanied from Luqa that morning, or that the clothes were bought by Megrahi on 7th December, without an advocate pointing out that these matters were hardly certain.

  6. Rolfe: I share your frustration - I just think unless something big happens - for example a 'Wikileaks' type of event which exposes a cover up, nothing will happen. There is an obstinate atmosphere of collusion between police, Crown, Justice department, our government, previous administrations, present US + UK governments, myriad of intelligence agencies.....probably even the Libyans want it forgotten.

  7. I think you're about right there.

    Just speculating about what might blow it apart, I would go for the Frankfurt angle. All the baggage records from Frankfurt vanished from under the noses of the BKA immediately after the disaster - despite the airport being on high terrorist alert for exactly that type of device at the time. There's a lot of reason to suspect the BKA themselves might have had a hand in that - and if we remember where Frankfurt was at the time (the US sector of West Germany), maybe not just the BKA.

    The Scottish police were repeatedly told these records didn't exist, were destroyed, whatever. Relations between the BKA and the D&G were abysmal. It all seemed to be about passing the buck. The UK authorities didn't want Heathrow to be blamed, and were very keen to use the provenance of container AVE 4041 to push responsibility back to Frankfurt. The Frankfurt people just sat there on their black hole of vanished evidence, insisting that they were in the clear and Heathrow should look closer to home.

    There has never been any attempt to explain this. All we've ever had is handwaving about, oh dear, nobody thought of backing up the computer records for that day. That's ridiculous. They had a whole week to think of doing that. Not to mention that there should have been routine back-ups and hard copies of the data floating around. And that doesn't explain the loss of vital paper records as well, in particular the loading schedules for PA013A.

    None of the evidence from Frankfurt describes any search for this information, or indeed any structured inquiry into the baggage system in the initial days or weeks of the investigation. There has never been any explanation of what happened to the records, or recriminations, or even blame-shifting. Don't ask don't tell.

    What was going on there? Were the Frankfurt police more keen to cover up something that might have happened at that airport that day, than they were to track the people responsible for Lockerbie? Were they doing this entirely of their own initiative, or was there any US involvement?

  8. This situation continued for almost eight months! Then, completely out of the blue, a special courier arrived at the Lockerbie investigation HQ with Bogomira Erac's souvenir computer printout, complete with potted explanation that tray B8849 was unaccompanied luggage from Luqa, because the coding station where the details were entered had been processing luggage from KM180 at that time. This, of course, was some time after the D&G guys had started sniffing round Malta because of the "Made in Malta" label on the babygro.

    The BKA's story was that they had had that printout since February! (There's evidence that they followed something up at Luqa in February, too.) Bogomira, who is just as relaxed as everybody else about the disappearance of the main records, says she made her own printout of the loading records for PA103A the evening after the disaster, just out of curiosity. She saw nothing remarkable about it (without the coding station worksheets she had no way to tell which flight any of the bags had come from), and just tossed it in her locker as a souvenir.

    It wasn't until late January that it occurred to her she might be sitting on something important, so she went to her supervisor and told him what she had. (There follows an odd account of Mr. Berg, her supervisor, asking her to check the filing cabinets in case there are any more overlooked printouts in there - like, nobody looked there obsessively, weeks ago?)

    Berg took the printout to the police, and that's the last we hear about it until its emergence on 17th August when the BKA finally sent it to the D&G.

    Mrs. Erac seems perfectly honest. She gave evidence anonymously at the original inquiry (as "Madame X"), but under her own name at Zeist, and she has appeared in at least one BBC documentary. If she's inventing this, then Berg is corroborating her story.

    However, to my mind the whole thing stinks to high heaven. The evidence for a cover-up at Frankfurt is pretty unarguable. That exactly the little extract from the records should surface to allow a connection to Malta to be made, without anyone having access to the full dataset to analyse this conclusion (and get a lot more information about what was going on in the airport that day), is awfully convenient. The fact that this wasn't handed over until August, even though the D&G had been pressing the BKA for that information since the beginning, is downright bizarre.

    I can't prove tray B8849 is a fabrication. I can't prove the printout is a fabrication and that Bogomira and Berg are lying. By any analysis of the evidence, the tray could quite easily be a simple coding anomaly anyway, and it's only of interest because it seems to point to the island where the police have traced the blast-damaged clothes. However, the entire Frankfurt records story is suspicious in more ways than it has any right to be.

    This doesn't mean I think the bomb was smuggled on at Frankfurt. I don't. However, I note that all the people who claim to have been targeted by the US authorities (with smears and legal threats) in relation to their investigation of Lockerbie, have all been proponents of the Frankfurt bag-switch theory - Aviv, Coleman, Shaughnessy, Francovich.

    I tend to think that blowing the Frankfurt situation open - what happened to the records and who and why - and finding out what the real story is of Bogomira's printout and tray B8849, would be the thing that would tip the scales. There must be people around in modern-day Germany who know more about this than they've revealed so far.

    That one-line entry in that printout is the one and only single piece of evidence for the entire improbable daisy-chain of the Luqa-Frankfurt-Heathrow bomb route, which implicates Megrahi. And i for one would like to know a lot more about its antecedents.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Rolfe: [You have a forensic mind]
    I tend to agree with your deduction from the reported events, regarding the Frankfurt connection – it is very fishy (btw - not sure of the meaning of “US sector of West Germany” – what are you alluding to here?)

    Here’s what I think I read in your two comments.
    1. If the premise is that the exposure of a conspiracy might trigger a ‘review’, then the most fruitful place to start would be with the characters and events surrounding the Frankfurt connection.
    2. The Frankfurt part of the conspiracy was only about (i) Shifting the blame about security weaknesses to somewhere else, (ii) Consolidating the prosecution case that the bag derived from Malta – which let them off the hook (iii) They only produced the corroborating ‘evidence’ sometime later after observing the interest of the D&G in Malta.
    3. The D&G did not collude with the BKA, because their relationship was poor – instead just accepted the baggage records at face value to promote their own case.
    4. Frankfurt was a willing conspirator, with the US coordinating the bigger picture (not outlined).
    5. Some of the characters seem plausible, and some not. Require any of the many characters who were aware of a cover-up to come forward to blow the gaffe.
    6. The baggage handling data cannot be proved to be false.
    7. A Frankfurt conspiracy does not mean the bomb was introduced at Frankfurt or that some of the Frankfurt conspirators were cognisant of this, if indeed it was introduced there.
    8. US attention on four of the characters who theorised about an alternative bomb plot through Frankfurt points to sensitivity about what the US thinks happened at Frankfurt.
    9. A single entry in a baggage printout which has a doubtful history was crucial in convicting Megrahi.

  11. Pretty much spot-on.

    If I might elaborate very slightly, the two points of evidence which argue against the Malta-Frankfurt-Heathrow daisy-chain are

    1. The strength of the evidence from Luqa that there was no unaccompanied suitcase on KM180. This has to be stressed - the trial court stated "The absence of any explanation of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 is a major difficulty for the Crown case", and Lord Osborne during the (first) appeal stated "there is considerable and quite convincing evidence that that could not have happened." It's not just about Air Malta and threatened libel actions.

    2. The fact that Kurt Maier, who was described as "a careful and conscientious operator" and who was aware of the Autumn Leaves operation (specifically relating to Semtex hidden inside radio-cassette recorders) and the Helsinki warning (specifically relating to a threat to the luggage of a Pan Am flight from Frankfurt to New York), failed to see anything suspicious in any of the suitcases he x-rayed at the PA103A departure gate that afternoon. He was ill and unable to give evidence in person at Zeist, and the prosecution managed to cast doubt on his competence. However, his evidence in person at the earlier Pan Am enquiry was again adamant that he would have recognised such a device. (The judges at that enquiry refused to allow a court-room demonstration of the x-ray equipment to show how easy it would have been to see the radio-cassete player.)

    Both of these are strong pieces of evidence, and tend to support each other. Set against that, we have merely:

    1. The Erac printout, whose "interesting" provenance I explained above, and which even if entirely on the level, might simply have recorded a coding anomaly.

    2. The eventual position of the bomb suitcase in the baggage container. This was held to show the case was one of the bags from the Frankfurt flight, rather than one of the ten or so bags already placed in the container in the interline shed at Heathrow, because the device was determined to be on the second layer of bags, with one of the Frankfurt cases underneath it, in conact with the floor of the container. This doesn't fly. From the stated dimensions of the container, only about six cases could be placed flat on the floor. Thus, some of the Heathrow cases would have had to be above that level regardless, as there were about ten of these. If at least one of the Frankfurt cases was on the floor, this actually increases the number of Heathrow cases that couldn't have been so placed, and makes it perfectly possible, indeed probable, that one of the Heathrow cases ended up on top of the Frankfurt case.

    As I said, tray B8849 could well merely be a coding anomaly. It's the extraordinarily convenient appearance of this piece of evidence, timed smack bang in the middle of the coding window of KM180, after 8 months of denial that the Frankfurt police had any useful baggage records in their possession, that gets my Spidey-sense tingling.

  12. (btw - not sure of the meaning of “US sector of West Germany” – what are you alluding to here?)

    Here you go, article about post-WW2 Germany.

    Although it was all just "West Germany" from about 1950, the military presence continued for decades after that, and the US had a lot of influence in that part of Germany even in 1988 and early 1989. The writing was on the wall from the summer of 1989, but the Berlin Wall didn't fall till November and the official reunification was October 1990.

    We tend to forget that the Lockerbie investigation was going on against the background of these events. I remember visiting Bavaria in the mid-1980s, and being struck by the level of US presence. I don't think it would have been much different in late 1988/early 1989.

  13. I understand BKA is the German Federal Police but unfortunately google comes back with nothing but links related to the fashion retailer when searching for "D&G". Please may you enlighten me?

    Also Rolfe, how do you know all this stuff? Have you managed to find all this information in the public domain?

    Thanks for posting it though. This site's a goldmine as much for the comments as for the posts. I wish the mainstream journalists were as thorough

  14. Andy, you are correct: the BKA (Bundeskriminalamt) is the German federal criminal police. Their website is at

  15. D&G == Dumfries and Galloway Police, the police force which carried out the investigation.

  16. Also Rolfe, how do you know all this stuff? Have you managed to find all this information in the public domain?

    Yes, totally public. I found some interesting back-biting about the poor relationship between the police forces in John Crawford's "A Detective's Tale", and there's more in contemporary newspaper articles.

    The Zeist court judgements are quite informative too.

    There's stuff about the vanishing records in several of the documentaries, including The Maltese Double Cross, but everybody just shrugs their shoulders and it's never explained. Bogomira herself is in the Conspiracy Files documentary, but her Zeist evidence has the most detail. Particularly interesting are some of the small details of what she says about the computer system, which suggest that backups and paper copies should have been routinely available anyway,

  17. Actually, Blogiston, could I focus on one part of your summary?

    2. The Frankfurt part of the conspiracy was only about (i) Shifting the blame about security weaknesses to somewhere else, (ii) Consolidating the prosecution case that the bag derived from Malta – which let them off the hook (iii) They only produced the corroborating ‘evidence’ sometime later after observing the interest of the D&G in Malta.

    I don't necesarily think that's all it was about. I think they might have suspected the bomb went on there, and wanted to cover that up, yes. But it seems a bit far to go just for that - to organise a complete scorched earth of all the baggage records so that nothing is available, but nobody is asking any awkward questions in too loud a voice. (Raised eyebrows are about as far as it gets.)

    I have a suspicion there was something else happening at Frankfurt that day, quite distinct from the Lockerbie bomb, that the BKA (and maybe the US authorities in Frankfurt) didn't want revealed. It may be that the BKA (at least initially) suspected that the Lockerbie bomb had been introduced by subverting or appropriating this exercise, whatever this was. So, discovery of how the Lockerbie bomb was introduced would, in that scenario, bring with it the revelation of whatever else was going on. Which could explain the almost immediate disappearance of the relevant evidence.

    The details of the "Frankfurt bag-switch theory" involve subversion of a known US controlled drugs route into major US cities, in which heroin was allowed to enter the country so that drug dealers in America could be ambushed at the other end. It's said this wasn't happening in December 1988. Who knows. A suitcase with bags of heroin is one of the things rumoured to have been found on the ground at Lockerbie. Denied by the authorities.

    Others have developed this into a "drugs for hostages" bargain, similar to Oliver North's "arms for hostages" deal which was about the same time. With again the suggestion that this drug route could have been subverted to carry the bomb.

    There's also the question of Khreesat, the PFLP-GC bomb-maker, who was actually Jordanian intelligence, possibly connected to the CIA and supposed to be making dud bombs as a double agent. But his bombs were live. He was picked up by the Frankfurt BKA as part of the "Autumn Leaves" investigation, but was released almost immediately for "lack of evidence", (allegedly) after making a phone call (allegedly) to his CIA handlers. What was going on there?

    Paul Foot suggests that the reason for the Lockerbie investigation backing off from the PFLP-GC might have been because pursuing them would have "exposed a gaping hole in their [US and UK] intelligence services which would, if the matter was fully aired, be proved to have been incompetent to stop a murderous plot they knew about."

    I can't say exactly where this is going, because I'm only guessing. I just wonder if the Frankfurt authorities had enough reason to want to keep the baggage movements secret that day to "disappear" the whole set at the earliest possible moment. Which was then a good starting point for introducing a carefully-selected portion of the records showing just enough evidence to support the Malta-Frankfurt-Heathrow daisy-chain (which also conveniently exonerated the Frankfurt check-in desks and airport perimeter and threw responsibility back on Maier who was a Pan Am employee), without revealing anything else that might have been going on that day.

    Well, as I said, it's pure guess-work. Romance at short notice is my speciality....

  18. Blogiston if enough ordinary people got involved we would get a result. That's why its important to keep on the backs of the newspapers, the broadcasters and our politicians and not let up about it. If the calls get loud enough they will not be able to stop it.

  19. To get a review Prof Black already outlined a few days back why the dropping of the appeal doesn't leave us unable to proceed for there are good reasons for the state to take the issues raised by the SCCRC forward. It is all there in the grounds they flagged up.

    And there is more besides.

  20. Rolfe: So the regular drug smuggling conspiracy was on that flight, in one bag? And separately one of Khreesat's bombs? And the CIA new about their own black-op drug thing, but were completely blind sided when the f'ing plane blew up? And then they quickly find out that although Khreesat had been arrested by the BKA at some point, there is every possibility that one of his bombs made it on to that flight, by accomplices, presumably? So immediately they set about covering up everything to do with baggage going through Frankfurt that day, and their ground agents scour the wreckage locus to spirit away the shipment for that day too?
    Then at some point later when it becomes clear that 'pinning' the bomb on Libya was a cool idea, a baggage printout has to be 'discovered' that would allow the unaccompanied bag to have come from Malta? Zat it? I'm a bit slow :)

  21. Jo G: All those people you mention seem pretty resistant to a review/inquiry and probably for local short-sighted reasons - that's my point. I can't disagree that what you and others are doing by appying pressure for an inquiry is the only way it will ever gain enough impetus - but will that be enough without a massive stroke of luck from some unknown place or event? Normal Scottish people I talk to see it as irrelevant - especially now he's free - even if he has not been exonerated.

    No luggage transfer from air Malta flight KM-180 onto PanAm-103:

    sorry, only in german language:

    Das angebliche "Bomb-Bag", Tray No. B-8849 wurde nicht von AirMalta Flug KM-180 auf PanAm, Flug PA-103/B via Frankfurt nach London-Heathrow transferiert !
    Bei einem Dokument aus der Sammlung ST- 0685507 / 88, des Deutschen Bundeskriminalamtes (BKA) vom 08.02. 1989, handelt es sich u.a. um einen X- Ray Report der Sicherheitsfirma ALERT vom Flughafen Frankfurt. (Police Referenz: DW 26). Camp Zeist Prod. No. 1076)
    Darin bestätigt Sicherheits-Angestellter Kurt Maier, dass er am 21. 12. 1988, zwischen 16.25- 16.30 Uhr am X-Ray-Gerät bei Gate
    B-46, total 13 inter-line Gepäckstücke überprüft habe.
    (Maier Duty Report, Camp Zeist Prod. No. 1076).

    Bei einem weitern Dokument des BKA vom 02.02. 1988, Zeist Production No. 1790 handelt es sich um einen Ausdruck der Gepäck- Beförderungsanlage des Stellenleiter und Zeugen Kurt Berg.
    Hiernach wurden am 21.12. 1988 über die Beförderungsanlage total 25 Inter-liner Gepäckstücke für Flug PA-103/B befördert.
    Auch Zeuge No. 799, Gunther Karsteleiner machte am Gericht dieselbe falsche Aussage.
    Er zählte 12 on-liner Gepäckstücke, welche gezwungener Massen falsch als inter-liner Gepäckstücke codiert wurden, mit den 13 korrekt codierten inter-liner Bag's zusammen und kam dadurch auf die Anzahl 25 Inter-liner Bag's.

    MEBO Erklärung:
    Die Anzahl der inter-liner Gepäckstücke ist nachweislich falsch ! Von den angeblichen 25 inter-line Gepäckstücken waren davon 12 Bag's On-liner von PanAm Flügen aus Berlin (TXL), PA-107;
    PA-637; PA-639; PA-643.

    11 On-liner Bag's kamen von (TXL) PA-107; PA-637; und PA-639 und wurden über die inter-line Baggage Halle Mitte "HM", am Counter HM-4 zwangsläufig falsch als inter-liner Bag's codiert und mit den Tray No. B-xxxx + Zeit und dem Attribut "BP" (By Pass) in den Hausspeicher "HS", und später auf Flug PA-103/B befördert.

    1 on-liner Bag kam von (TXL) Flug PA-643 und wurde über das inter-line Baggage Vorfeld "V3" am Counter No.206 zwangsläufig falsch als inter-liner Bag programmiert, Tray No. B-8849 --S-0009+ Z1307, mit dem Atribut "TO" (to) Hausspeicher HS und später auf PA-103/B befördert.

    Auf der Ladeliste TADD, 881221, für PanAm, Flug PA-103/B wurden total 6 Gepäckstücke nach der Tray Nummer B---- und des S-Codes, mit dem Attribut "TO" (to) -- HS-33 + Zeit bezeichnet.

    Durch das Attribut "TO" = to *HS-33 +Zeit *(Ziel Hausspeicher) kann zugeordnet werden, dass die 6 Gepäckstücke im inter-line Baggage Vorfeld "V-3", an einem der Counter No. 203; 204; 206 codiert wurden.
    Da für das Bag, Tray No. B-8849, S-0009+Z13:07 mit dem Attribut "TO" HS-33, für einem Transfer von AirMalta KM-180 auf PA-103/B, nur der Counter No.206 infrage kommen würde steht beweisbar fest, dass das Bag Tray B-8849 nicht von AirMalta sondern von PanAm Zubringerflug aus Berlin, PA-643 transferiert wurde !

    Continuation down >>>

  23. continuation >>>

    No luggage transfer from AirMalta flight KM-180 onto PanAm-103:

    Nur weil das on-liner Bag, Tray No. B-8849 aus abwicklungs-technischen Gründen falsch als inter-liner Bag eingestuft wurde und gleichzeitig, zwischen 13:04 und 13:16 Uhr, um 13:07 Uhr, am gleichen Counter No. 206, zwischen Gepäckstücken von AirMalta KM-180 codiert wurde, konnte behauptet werden, dass das Bag
    B-8849 von AirMalta auf PA-103/B transferiert wurde.

    Die restlichen 24 Gepäckstücke können Fluggesellschaften oder Passagieren zugeordnet werden und kommen für einen Transfer von AirMalta KM-180 auf PA-103/B nicht infrage.

    NB: Das "Baggage Conveyancing System" im Frankfurt Airport war mit einem Betriebs Computerprogramm ausgerüstet, welches on-liner Gepäckstücke bei der X-Ray Kontrollstelle am Gate B-46 nicht ausschleuste, da solche Bag's bereits in Berlin X-Ray überprüft wurden.

    Da zahlmässig feststeht (12 on-line Bag's) dass das Bag
    B-8849 nicht x-Ray überprüft wurde, bestätigt das Bag war on-line.
    Durch diese Fakts kann ein Transfer von AirMalta KM-180 auf PA-103/B, absolut ausgeschlossen werden.

    The alleged "Bomb bag" B-8849 was not from AirMalta flight KM-180, it was a normal on-line bag from Berlin, wrongly coded as inter-line bag:
    Tray B-8849 came from Berlin with flight PA-643 and belonged to passenger no. 131, Misses W. Wagenführ; coded in Frankfurt via counter V3-206, code S-0009+Z1307); (Prod. 1089, PTM-telex from PanAm company, after offbloc PA-643, 11:26 hour in Berlin, text: from flight PA-643 > to PA 103B/21-LHRO/0/1/ B1 > (1 passenger+1 bag > B1) police reference DW 125;
    No doubt's it is wrong al-Megrahi cannot dispatched a bag on AirMalta KM-180, on 21 Dec.1988 !

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland

  24. From Berlin? Is this a new counter claim, Rolfe? Stasi assisted presumably? :)

  25. Bloggy, they can be beaten if the will exists and that takes people to speak out and get other people on board. It takes half a dozen GOOD journalists in the UK, not Scotland, the UK from end to end. Six good journalists, that's all. And a couple of brave broadcasters. I sometimes hate the fact that the media is so powerful but you know what? If you can harness it then you will not be beaten. That's what we need to do.

    It can be done Bloggy. If I didn't believe it could be done I wouldn't keep trying to do what I can to bring it about.

  26. Bloggy I'm ashamed to say I only watched the Maltese Double Cross the other night for the first time. I talked to Rolphe about it later and there were some things in it where you'd go, "Hmmm." but also there was a lot of incredible background to what was going on at the same time. You forgot, as I did, that at the time there were massive moves afoot to get John McCarthy released and negotiations going on with Hisbolah (scuse spelling). Drugs could have been involved there. (There was also a connection with the taking of McCarthy and the others and the 1986 killing of Gaddafi's daughter in the US raid in Libya.) This was all current then and Germany was a real hub of terrorists! McCarthy wasn't released until 91. The video is lengthy but I found it utterly fascinating and it features heavily the legal drugs flying around the skies and the deals (CIA based) on clearing certain luggage straight on to planes and out of airports are astonishing.

  27. Blogiston, I don't know. I'm trying to make sense of a handful of jigsaw pieces that just seem to come from the same puzzle.

    There seem to have been two separate things going on at Frankfurt.

    One of these is absolutely definite - the PFLP-GC cell busted by the BKA in October 1988 ("Autumn Leaves") who were making altimeter-trigger bombs designed to blow up airliners about 30 to 45 minutes after take-off, using (among other things) radio-cassette players to disguise the bombs.

    About 17 people were arrested in connection with this operation, but all except two were released very quickly, for "lack of evidence" (even though some of them had been caught with one of the devices in their car). Khreesat, the bomb-maker, was one of those arrested then released. He was supposed to be a double agent, making dud bombs and infiltrating the cell. He complained that the BKA had moved too fast and they could have got the lot if they'd waited another few days.

    However, his bombs weren't duds, possibly because he was being watched, or possibly because he was actually a triple agent. The device that brought down Maid of the Seas was uncannily similar to Khreesat's devices, and the explosion (inexplicably for a timer-operated device) occurred very early in the flight - 38 minutes after take-off.

    The second thing is the alleged "controlled drugs deliveries" said to be going through Frankfurt airport, organised by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. These deliveries were supposedly escorted round the Frankfurt baggage x-ray, which should have caught the Lockerbie device if it had gone on at that airport (whether de novo or interlined from Malta). There seems to be some truth to this, but it's handwaved away as "there were no such operations going on in December 1988".

    The Frankfurt bag-switch theory proposes that the Frankfurt PFLP-GC was able to tap into the drug courier system, and substitute the bomb suitcase for the drug suitcase, which was then duly escorted round Maier's all-penetrating eye.

    The trouble is that there's really no evidence this part happened. Juval Aviv first came up with the idea, but it's a jumble of polygraph examinations and suitcases the wrong colour and odd telephone calls that doesn't seem to stand up. Here's the report, for what it's worth. I think it was actually written before the BKA produced Bogomira's souvenir printout.

    The weight of evidence still points to Heathrow as the place where the bomb was really introduced. However, all these goings-on at Frankfurt seem to take on significance when the scale of the apparent cover-up at Frankfurt is appreciated. (Juval Aviv, of the massive bag-swith conspiracy theory, doesn't even mention the missing records.)

    What was being covered up at Frankfurt? The drug shipments stuff? Something separate? Something related?

    The CIA is allegedly connected to both operations - facilitating the drug shipments on one hand, and having a hand in running Khreesat as an agent on the other. I just wonder if a full investigation might show that a CIA operation that went badly wrong in some way allowed that bomb to go on the plane. This is probably where the "drugs for hostages" speculations come in.

    Was tray B8849 always part of the vanished records, and simply released much later because the BKA realised it would break the impasse where Britain was trying to push the blame at Frankfurt and Frankfurt was stone-walling? Or was it somehow fabricated to fit in with the provenance of the clothes found at the crash scene?

    If it was, did anyone realise there was a Libyan security officer passing through Luqa airport at a very convenient time?

    Or maybe this is all complete nonsense and the Frankfurt thing is just monumental incompetence with a side-order of arrogance.

    I wish I knew.

  28. From Berlin? Is this a new counter claim, Rolfe? Stasi assisted presumably? :)

    Pass. I merely observe that the tray, if it was even real and not some sort of fabrication after the event, could well have been a coding anomaly. Coding anomalies were agreed to happen at Frankfurt, and couldn't possibly be ruled out. Where the anomalous bag might have come from, I dont know.

  29. Jo G: I watched the maltese double cross in multiple crappy youtube vids sometime ago - need to watch it again for a refresher. Is there a good quality download somewhere?

  30. Rolfe: Is spam man the full shilling, though? :)

  31. Pass. Watch The Maltese Double Cross again and see if you can make up your own mind. This is the best-quality link I am aware of. It's not bad, compared to the Google Movies one, and you can actually read some of the paper documents if you freeze-frame.

    You know, I've been in Switzerland quite often. Even the railway clerks speak decent English. Someone who ran a pirate radio station and trades internationally - well, what do you think?

  32. Agreed. Had similar thought.
    I am presently reading the typed report from Aviv you cited (and digesting your blog) - great stuff. I so like typed font - btw.
    (1st thing I notice is "a navigational drift placed it over land" - strange, coz I've been to the states probably 60 or 70 times and everytime I went from Heathrow we entered the Shanwick sector via the beacon near the Solway and more or less right over Prestwick - at no time being considered to be over the sea. Both west coast and east coast US flights went the same way. However I am not an expert on this.)

  33. Nah. There are a number of different routes that might be taken by an airliner leaving Heathrow for NY, depending on weather and other traffic conditions. Some people have talked as if PA103 would have been expected to take a more southerly route across Ireland, but I believe this is a misunderstanding. It would take whichever route was set for it by ATC, and the Shanwick route was perfectly normal.

    Others have spoken of the plane being late, and therefore the explosion which was planned to happen over the Atlantic in fact happened over land. This is also nonsense. The plane wasn't really late by the standards of a transatlantic flight. It pushed off from the gate on time, and actually lifted off 25 minutes later. There was perhaps a 10-15 minute delay on the tarmac due to heavy traffic, but that's all.

    If the trigger had been a simple timer, even the promptest possible take-off would barely have cleared the coast (if it was Prestwick where that would have happened). The flight time was well over seven hours. Does that make sense to anyone?

    If the timer was a barometric one, then the plane was always going to blow apart 38 minutes after take-off, irrespective of the time of that take-off. It would have been Lockerbie anyway.

  34. Yes, we're not in disagreement. My (ill made) point is more often than not, that plane flew up over Lockerbie (I called it the Solway being geographically fuzzy) and out over the north channel - from Heathrow to the south of Scotland was over land. Aviv seems to suggest that was a deviance due to 'navigational drift' and that's why it wasn't over the sea or ocean - and I don't agree with that.
    The rest of the report is so detailed that it is hard not to be impressed (including telephone numbers). I wonder if the detail was independently checked to see whether it was true, or not.
    [I need to quit this lark, and get my life back]

  35. Aviv ... no. It was not true. Phone numbers were from Pizza parlors or who cares? He claims to have half these meeting on video and stupid things like that. If he's got any real info it's encoded and buried well beneath his stock and trade, and I shan't dig for it.

  36. Blogiston, when I said "nah", it was Aviv it was directed to.

    He's a very weird character, you can see him in several of the documentaries being coy about all this evidence that he no longer has in his possession. Pan Am employed him to find out what happened, as he had (or said he had) experience with El Al, who are the experts on aviation security. I can now no longer tell the difference between genuine criticism of Aviv as a chancer, and the alleged smearing that has gone on to discredit the first person to propose the drugs route through Frankfurt operation.

    The report is interesting in that as far as I can tell it's the first exposition of the "Frankfurt bag-switch" theory that is the main theme of Trail of the Octopus and The Maltese Double Cross.

  37. Going back to the Frankfurt baggage thing, just to clarify. There is no doubt that the Frankfurt baggage records vanished. The odd thing is that I’ve never seen any discussion about this – it’s merely noted as the reason why Bogomira’s souvenir turned out to be important.

    The Official Version is that, oh dear, nobody realised Frankfurt airport had a computerised baggage handling system, and that the daily records would be over-written on the system after “a few days”. (This varies, but it seems to have been about a week.) Oops. Some minor wringing of hands, and maybe the odd raised eyebrow. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

    This doesn’t make sense to me. First, the connection of the flight to Frankfurt was realised from the first moments. It was originally reported in Germany as if a direct Frankfurt to New York flight had gone down. Frankfurt airport was on high alert at the time, both as regards the “Autumn Leaves” bombs, and the “Helsinki warning”, which actually specified a Pan Am Frankfurt to New York flight. Why would the BKA not be all over that like a rash within hours? And indeed, contemporary press reports do record the BKA beginning investigations at Frankfurt at least within a couple of days. Only three days after the disaster, the first piece of the blast-damaged luggage container was brought in, crystallising suspicions that a bomb was probably involved. And we’re supposed to believe that nobody at all thought about taking a back-up copy of the baggage records file for 21st December, for more than a week? When the place was crawling with technicians and IT experts who knew exactly how the system worked?

    Not only that, the IT expert whom Prof. Black quoted on this blog earlier, said that (tape?) backups would normally be taken anyway, in order to deal with possible claims for lost luggage. (He said that if there had been no lost luggage on 21st December that would have been the first and last time in the history of the airport, but of course there was lost luggage that day – there were several unaccompanied bags on PA103 that ended up on the grass in Scotland.) In addition, Bogomira Erac was asked to describe the computer system in her evidence. She mentioned the capability for copying data to floppy disc. She also mentioned hard-copy printouts that routinely came out of teletype machines, which were usually thrown away. These don’t even seem to have been looked for at the time, as Bogomira describes Berg suggesting to her in late January that she check the filing cabinets just on the off-chance. In fact, Bogomira (who was right in the middle of it all) never once mentions any police or security investigation she was aware of, or being interviewed about baggage movements that day, before she revealed she’d kept her printout.

    In addition, it wasn’t just the computer records that were missing. The paper records of the loading plan for PA103A were also missing from the file when Michael Jones went looking (and they never turned up either, leading to a lot of speculation in court about what went on at the departure gate). There were no records either relating to the unloading of KM180 – not even of the identity of the people who unloaded it.

    It seems to me it would have taken quite an effort to fail to secure any of this lot.

  38. So, hypothesis one is that the official story is true. Monumental incompetence by everyone at Frankfurt airport, practically amounting to criminal negligence, and nobody even bats an eyelid about this – it’s just shrugged off as one of those things.

    Hypothesis two is that in some way, the conspirators/bombers managed to destroy the records. This is what Michael Jones implies in The Maltese Double Cross, but it doesn’t make sense to me. Even if it was possible, surely in that case the police would have been very high-profile trying to get to the bottom of this, and mounting a separate criminal investigation into the missing records? No?

    Hypothesis three is that the police and the airport security people were themselves responsible for disappearing the records. It seems pretty far-fetched – but even so, less improbable than the alternatives. That’s what I suspect, and the only explanation I can think of for the very strange “don’t ask don’t tell” aura around all this. Also, Christmas Day was four days after the disaster, a Sunday. Maybe a good time to accomplish something like this? Maybe the records were just discreetly hoovered up for private analysis, then when it transpired there was stuff there nobody wanted to come out, they were just quietly “lost”?

  39. So what about Bogomira?

    In her evidence, she says she realised on the evening of 21st December, as she was driving home, that a flight she had dealt with earlier that day had crashed. The following day, as her shift was coming to an end (about 24 hours after the incident) she made a printout of the baggage records for that flight using her own computer. She looked at it, saw nothing striking except that there weren’t many items for a transatlantic flight, and tossed it in her locker. She realised later that the reason for the small loading was that PA103A was a feeder flight, and only carried a small number of transatlantic passengers (her computer actually referred to the flight as “PA103” without the A).

    She describes everyone at work talking about nothing else that day, apparently all still believing that it was a direct flight from Frankfurt that had crashed. She doesn’t describe anyone taking any steps to investigate or secure baggage records, either then or later. She says she went home to Slovenia for a two-week holiday at New Year, which suggests she was still at work during the week following the disaster.

    It wasn’t until some days after she got back that it occurred to her that no baggage records seemed to have been retained, and thus she might be sitting on something important. So she went to her supervisor and told him. He said, how can that be, all these records are missing? She explained, and gave him the printout. He asked her to check the filing cabinets just in case there was anything else lurking, but she didn’t find anything. (This was all about 25th January.)

    Her supervisor gave the printout to the police, and they admit to having received it in February. Wilfrid Borg of Air Malta also records having received an enquiry from the Frankfurt BKA some time in February, asking if he could supply any details of flights to Frankfurt from Malta on 21st December.

    The BKA continued to deny to the D&G that they had any baggage records from 21st December until they suddenly sent Bogomira’s printout and a couple of other items (Koca’s coding worksheet and the interline writer’s record) on 17th August. There’s no record of how the latter two pieces of evidence were obtained, but it is clear from the analysis of the evidence at Zeist that a complete set of coders’ worksheets and interline writers’ records was in fact available for that day. Which is awfully handy, because the printout would have been meaningless without the former.

    So that’s quite well attested, so far as it goes. I have absolutely no evidence to suggest any of it is untrue. I suspect, however, that the convenient appearance of the coders’ worksheets and so on is another pointer to the police having quietly secured all the records right at the start.

    It’s quite possible this is all absolutely true, and that a simple coding anomaly fortuitously provided evidence implicating the Malta flight. The enquiry to Borg in February might imply that tray B8849 had been picked up at that point, and was being followed up. (Or it might just have been part of a general enquiry to airports with flights flying into Frankfurt that day.)

    I just can’t stifle suspicions that this is all too convenient by half, and that either the entire souvenir printout story is a myth (which would imply that both Bogomira Erac and her supervisor were involved in whatever plot was hatched, and Bogomira is quite the little actress), or that her story is true, but that her souvenir printout was later doctored to add the entry that implicated the Malta flight. In that case, its fortuitous availability provided a plausible platform for releasing just that one extract of the data that would “solve” the Lockerbie case, while allowing the complete set of records to remain concealed.

    This is doing my head in, I have to say.

  40. I have to agree... it's doing your head in. What did Churchill say? It's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enema - or words to that effect. Someone in the police or Crown has presumably access to the source material, and I wonder if there still remains enough evidence to answer some of the questions you pose. Or are there newer forensic techniques that could be applied. My concern is churning the only known facts and events (without the chance to examine the source material and reports) takes us no real further than the conspiracy speculation that was already being formed in the nineties. And leads on to the motive for re-examining the evidence. Is it to help exonerate Megrahi by finding out who really did it? Or is it purely to become expert in all aspects of the conspiracy? It might be a worthwhile exercise to generate a FAQ that objectively (that is the operative word here -btw) that documents the characters, evidence, plots, etc with a view to bringing into one accessible place. And I don't mean the wiki description that exists - as good as that is. I mean a spreadsheet of hyperlinks that expand and cross reference the entities.

  41. If I were an investigative journalist, I'd be heading to Frankfurt to see if I could find some of the other people working in baggage handling control at the airport in December 1988, to try to get at the truth of the disappearing records.

    But since I'm not, I'll have to settle for trying to understand the information that's available, as far as possible. Once you get to a certain point, you really can't take it any further.

  42. (Part I) Rolfe: If I were an investigative journalist, I would talk to the junior ranks of police, army and Crown who were involved. Perhaps, they will tell something interesting because the senior investigators will not.
    However, even the most practiced let truths slip by non-verbal signals.
    Look at the STV program, as viewed from the angle of observing body language.
    1. Andrew Jackson (Det. Chief Insp. Lockerbie Enquiry): “...there was no doubt in the mind of the officers carrying out the search, and in my own mind that we would recover significant pieces of evidence” (Initially nods in agreement as he controls his body language, but changes to a left/right negative as he proceeds – a strange non-verbal – something here he doesn’t really believe. What is he signalling?)
    2. Stuart Henderson (Detective Chief Superintendent): “…the device, fortunately for the perpetrators, had been near the outside shell of the aircraft, not inside…” (Closes his eyes during the word ‘fortunately’ – signifying, being uncomfortable with this explanation. Why?)
    3. John Crawford (Det Constable): Talking about Frankfurt. “Germany was a place we had to look at…so that’s what we did for months on end. Eh, found nothing” (Stresses the ‘nothing’, but is seen to scratch his nose with his left hand. This displacement is a clear signal of being extremely uncomfortable with something almost to the point of telling a lie.)
    4. John Crawford: Subsequently, as he relates about the Malta investigation, he is markedly brighter. Is this because he has gotten the Frankfurt ‘tale’ out of the way and now feels comfortable about this subject matter?
    5. George Esson (Ret. Chief Constable): Relating Gauci telling him about the list of things in the suitcase. This seems a truthful account at first hand. There is no displacement activity or negative body language. This guy is either telling the truth or he has told this story so many times, he actually believes it himself. He is also a Chief Constable so will be very assured in front of a camera. Undecided about whether this is true.
    6. Stewart Henderson: Speaking about Gauci being watched by “Libyans” outside his shop in Malta. Now the interesting observation about this interview is his whole deportment is different from earlier. No more reserved speaking from the back of his chair. Now he is confident, leaning forward making points with his hand. Very believable – because he really believes the story he is relating. And it is only near the end of his explanation of why the shop would be being watched, there is the tiniest flick of his head to the left (twice) signifying a little hesitation.

  43. Part (II)
    7.Richard Marquise (FBI Agent): Relating the Malta investigation. Very confident. Lots of hand gestures. This guy is a pro and competent with telling this story. I reserve judgement on anything he says – not because I don’t believe him, but because he is like an actor, the gestures come thick and fast. Do they mean, look at my hands, and don’t listen to the lies coming out my mouth? Don’t know.
    8. Thomas Thurman (FBI Special Agent Lockerbie Task Force): Talking about the MST13 identification. Very rigid but confident delivery. However, his eyes are constantly flicking side to side to see whether the recipient is taking the message in. Not certain about this.
    9. John Logue (Crown Office Prosecutor): He delivers in all his pieces a steady but reserved and competent report of the investigation and trial. There are no detectable non-verbals, however, people used to living (and surviving) their days in the cut and thrust of the court are very adept at putting either side of an argument with equal assurance. He is quietly assured, and so he is very difficult to read. I believe he believes the evidence he prosecuted – but that says very little about the veracity of the evidence.
    10. Stewart Henderson: Talking about the MST13 timer. Surprise! He’s sitting back in his seat again, with a fixed stare and dead pan delivery. Not as exciting as discovering “Libyans” are watching your chief witness! But that seems contrary to the importance to the case, i.e. finding the bomb trigger would I thought be more memorable. Strange?
    [The truth is out there! Remember, Scully’s logic triumphed on the days that Molder’s belief in fantasy didn’t]