A commentary on the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted of the murder of 270 people in the Pan Am 103 disaster.
Thursday, 31 May 2012
[This is the headline over an
article in the current issue of Private Eye. The following text is taken from John
Ashton’s Megrahi: You are my Jury
new edition ofPrivate Eyecarries the following article under the
newly-revealed document to which it refers can be readhere.
For 19 years
prosecutors and investigators kept secret a detailed report about the most
important forensic evidence recovered from the debris of Pan Am 103 at
Lockerbie – a fragment of timing device circuit board – which completely
undermined their own case against Abdelbasset al-Megrahi.
That such crucial
material, obtained by the Eye, was never disclosed before the Libyan was
convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity on UK soil, should in itself be
sufficient grounds for a public inquiry of itself. Added to the wealth of other
evidence concealed from his trial (Eyes passim) the deeply flawed
identification evidence “linking” Megrahi to the bombing, the use
of a discredited Walter Mitty-type FBI informer as a “star witness”, and the fact
that other material in the case still remains secret protected by “public
interest immunity”, the stench of cover-up becomes overwhelming.
The 11-page document
is a detailed summary of the forensic analysis of the circuit board, which
reveals that police and experts were well aware, relatively early in the
investigation, that there was something “very unusual” about the board. They
had found that tracks on it were coated with pure tin, whereas the vast
majority in manufacture have a tin/lead mix. This was a significant lead.
“Without exception it
is the view of all experts involved in the PCB[printed
circuit board] industry who have assisted with this enquiry that the tin
application on the tracks of the circuit was by far the most interesting
feature”, said the police report.
Scandalously this was
never revealed at Megrahi’s trial and not disclosed to his defence lawyers
until 2009 – a month before he was freed from a Scottish jail on compassionate
grounds to return to Libya, where he recently died.
The Crown’s case
against Megrahi regarding the circuit board was always the opposite: namely,
that the fragment was identical to circuit boards used in timers that were
supplied to Libya by a Swiss company Mebo. But these were not remotely
“unusual” as they had the common tin/lead mix.
Earlier this year
writer and researcher John Ashton in his book, Megrahi:
You are my Jury,revealed
how thegovernment scientist, Allen
Feraday, who had told the trial that the circuit fragment was “similar in all
respects” to the Mebo devices, had, in fact, overseentests
on the fragment and a control sample circuit board, (revealed in recently
disclosed notebooks) which pointed up the differences between the two.
As this new document
shows, the significance of such findings was known more widely. This raises
questions about why the evidence remained buried for years and who exactly knew
the Mebo timers were different.
board was discovered among parts of a man’s shirt recovered from the crash
site. The shirt was in turn traced back to Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper,
who put Megrahi in the frame three years after the bombing, saying he resembled
the man who had bought the clothing. (As Eye readers know Megrahi bore no
resemblance to the man first described by Gauci to investigators, and it later
emerged that the shopkeeper and his brother were handsomely “rewarded” by the
The new material
coupled, and the doubts about the veracity of the Gauci evidence, undermine the
two main pillars of Megrahi’s conviction. And while the Libyans were not averse
to state-sponsored acts of terrorism at the time of the bombing in 1988, it
remains the case – as the late Paul Foot pointed out in an Eye special report, Lockerbie: The Flight from Justice, in 2001 - that the attack
bore the hallmarks of a Syrian-backed Palestinian terrorist cell which had been
caught red-handed with devices equipped to bring down planes.
The excuse for not
holding a public inquiry is because the criminal investigation is continuing.
So far investigators only seem to have travelled to Libya – no doubt to
see if they can obtain new evidence that might somehow prop up the crumbling