Sunday, 23 September 2012

Lockerbie probe is ‘live’ – prosecutors

[This is the headline over a report in today’s edition of the Maltese newspaper The Sunday Times.  It reads as follows:] 

Malta Court hears fresh evidence of 1988 case

Scottish prosecutors have stressed the investigation into the 1988 Lockerbie atrocity is still “live” but would not confirm a request has been made for the Maltese courts to gather fresh evidence.

“This is a live investigation to bring to justice the others involved in this act of state-sponsored terrorism,” the Crown Office in Scotland told The Sunday Times.

It added that police of the Dumfries and Galloway constabulary – which is responsible for the town of Lockerbie – were working with US law enforcement “in pursuit of lines of enquiry”.

The statement was a reaction to a story by The Times on Monday that reported evidence-gathering hearings have been taking place behind closed doors before Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit.

The Crown Office would not comment further “to preserve the integrity of the investigation”.

However, multiple sources have confirmed that several witnesses were heard in relation to travel logistics – a salient point that connects Malta to the atrocity. The established thesis, which underpinned the conviction of Abdelbasset Al-Megrahi, the only person ever jailed for the bombing, hinges on the notion that the explosive that brought down Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie left Malta and was later transferred to London through Frankfurt.

The evidence of Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci was pivotal in pinning the blame on Al-Megrahi and securing the Malta connection to the bombing.

However, it later emerged that Mr Gauci had been coached and promised compensation by the CIA, undermining the credibility of his testimony.

Similarly, key elements of the evidence presented in the 2001 Camp Zeist trial in The Netherlands have been undermined.

Writing in the Scottish legal magazine The Firm, Jim Swire, whose 23-year-old daughter Flora died in the terrorist attack with another 269 victims, set out a series of outstanding questions about the established theory.

Among other things, Dr Swire pressed the point that a break-in at Heathrow Airport – from where Pan Am 103 took off – only 16 hours before the bomb exploded “remained hidden from view and from the Camp Zeist court” until after the verdict.

He also highlighted evidence uncovered by Al-Megrahi’s defence team after his conviction, showing that a key electronics fragment from the bomb found at the crash site could not have come from similar timer circuit boards that were bought in bulk by the Libyan Government in the 1980s.

Together with Mr Gauci’s identification of the former Libyan Intelligence officer, the circuit board evidence cemented the theory that the Libyan Government was behind the bombing and that Luqa airport was the original source of the bomb.

Mr Swire and a group of campaigners seeking the truth on the Lockerbie case are preparing to make a case before the Scottish Parliament next week for an inquiry to be held.

An inquiry could be the last avenue to answer the outstanding questions on the case, after Al-Megrahi withdrew his right to challenge his 27-year prison sentence in 2009, in return for an early release on compassionate grounds. He suffered from terminal cancer and died in May.

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