Monday, 15 October 2012

The Gauci brothers and payment

[Five years ago today, an item in the following terms was posted on this blog under the heading Now there’s a surprise!:]

Lucy Adams in The Herald of 15 October has a story to the effect that Richard Marquise, the FBI special agent who led the US joint task force on Lockerbie (and author of the book Scotbom: Evidence and the Lockerbie Investigation, 2006, ISBN-13: 978-0875864495) remains of the view that Megrahi was responsible for the bombing of Pan Am 103 and regrets only that the will is lacking to bring other more senior Libyans to trial.

He confirms that there were discussions about about monetary payments to the Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci, but is unable to say whether any money was in fact paid over.

See "Ex-FBI agent: no will to keep up Lockerbie investigation".

[What Mr Marquise is quoted as saying in the report in The Herald is this:]

He said he was unaware of any financial discussions between the CIA and the Gaucis but confirmed the US government ran a rewards programme for information at the time. "I know that when PanAm 103 went down, the State Department had a new programme called rewards for justice," he said.

It was well advertised in the Middle East, but the Scottish legal system has no mechanisms whatsoever for paying people and no comparative witness protection programme.

"We talked about it and we talked about the Gaucis and whether they needed to be protected," said Mr Marquise. "I think someone spoke to them in 1991 and said if you feel threatened we will relocate you, but as far as I am aware no-one offered them millions of dollars. Tony Gauci told someone that Australia would be the only place he might like to go, but he was happy in Malta and did not want to leave his pigeons so the subject was dropped. Instead extra security, including a panic button, was added to his shop."

[This should be compared with what we now know from Inspector Harry Bell’s diary of his dealings with the Gauci brothers, Tony and Paul.  The following is from a report in the Maltese newspaper, The Times:]

A document seen by the Scottish [Criminal Cases] Review Commission which reviewed the Lockerbie trial proceedings shows that star witness Tony Gauci had shown an interest in receiving money. (...)

The document was a memorandum dated February 21, 1991, titled Security of Witness Anthony Gauci, Malta, that consisted of a report sent by investigator Harry Bell to Supt Gilchrist just after Mr Gauci identified Mr Megrahi from a photo-spread six days earlier.

The memorandum was never disclosed by the prosecution during the trial.

Mr Bell discusses the possibility of Mr Gauci’s inclusion in a witness protection programme. The final paragraph, however, makes reference to a different matter: “During recent meetings with Tony he has expressed an interest in receiving money. It would appear that he is aware of the US reward monies which have been reported in the press.” (...)

But the review commission also had access to a confidential report dated June 10, 1999 by British police officers drawing up an assessment for the possible inclusion of Tony Gauci in a witness protection programme administered by Strathclyde Police.

In the report Mr Gauci is described as being “somewhat frustrated that he will not be compensated in any financial way for his contribution to the case”.

Mr Gauci is described in the report as a “humble man who leads a very simple life which is firmly built on a strong sense of honesty and decency”.

But the officers also interviewed Mr Gauci’s brother Paul, in connection with his inclusion in the programme.

The following passage in the report details their conclusions in this respect: “It is apparent from speaking to him for any length of time that he has a clear desire to gain financial benefit from the position he and his brother are in relative to the case. As a consequence he exaggerates his own importance as a witness and clearly inflates the fears that he and his brother have...  Although demanding, Paul Gauci remains an asset to the case but will continue to explore any means he can to identify where financial advantage can be gained.”

The report makes it clear that until then the Gaucis had not received any money.

But the commission established that some time after the conclusion of Mr Megrahi’s appeal, Tony and Paul Gauci were each paid sums of money under the Rewards or Justice programme administered by the US State Department.

Of particular note is an entry in Mr Bell’s diary for September 28, 1989: “He (Agent Murray of the FBI) had authority to arrange unlimited money for Tony Gauci and relocation is available. Murray states that he could arrange $10,000 immediately.”

When interviewed by the commission, Mr Bell was asked if Agent Murray had ever met Mr Gauci, to which he replied “I cannot say that he did not do so”.

However, the commission also noted that FBI Agent Hosinski had met with Mr Gauci alone on October 2, 1989 but Mr Bell said he would “seriously doubt that any offer of money was made to Tony during that meeting”.


  1. It's not that I don't care that Tony Gauci was bribed, but it's a distraction.

    Well obviously he was bribed, we've all seen the film of him swanning around in that flashy sports car. And obvously he was angling for money. I don't even believe this "don't feel safe" stuff. Nice was to wangle compensation though.

    However, too often people talk as if a valid identification has been tainted and become inadmissible on this technicality. Of course it's the opposite. Tony's customer didn't look anything like Megrahi, and Tony had to be "encouraged" to change his story to suit.

  2. "It was well advertised in the Middle East, but the Scottish legal system has no mechanisms whatsoever for paying people and no comparative witness protection programme."

    The reason we have no mechanism for "paying people" is that we call that, when it involves a witness, bribery Mr Marquise.

    Rolfe I don't know if we can dismiss the payment issue as a distraction because payments to witnesses would almost immediately make the testimony of that witness inadmissible. As soon as it was known Gaika had received monies he was out. Payments may not have been made before or during the trial to the Gaucis but the amounts paid to them after a guilty verdict was secured are eye-watering and hugely important.

  3. I know. I just don't like the baggage that comes with that - the inference some people draw that campaigners are trying to have Tony's testimony excluded on a "technicality".

  4. A previous post reported that US Congresswomen Ann Marie Buerkle was seeking information about the cost of the Lockerbie investigation.

    This could reveal new information that discredits the ‘on-going’ investigation.

    It could incite new questions about who decided Tony Gauci’s evidence was reliable and who signed off the reward payments, following what discussion and whose advice.

    For example, were the payments legal or proportionate considering it was reward money for ‘identification’ evidence that said Megrahi only ‘resembled’ the man who purchased clothing from Mary’s House?

  5. When speaking to "ordinary" Scots about the Lockerbie Case the single aspect of the affair which gets the most outraged reaction is the payments to the Gauccis and the "if it happened I was never told reactions of Fraser (previously) and Marquise (still, presumably). I take Rolfe's point but, taken together with Tony Gaucci's soliciting and the changes to his story, it points to active attempts by Scottish and American investigators to manipulate the evidence. Others might talk of rewards, expenses and hospitality but the woman on the Corstorphine omnibus knows a bribe when she sees it.