[This is the headline over an article by Herman Grech in yesterday’s edition of the Maltese newspaper The Sunday Times. It reads as follows:]
The father of a Lockerbie victim has called for an immediate inquiry into an aircraft circuit board fragment which links the 1988 disaster to Malta.
“There is now no evidence that a long-running timer was used. Without that link, Malta is out of the frame once and for all in my opinion,” Jim Swire told The Sunday Times.
Dr Swire has written to Scotland’s Lord Advocate after it emerged last week that the three experts most involved in defining the significance of the discrepancy over the metal were never approached by the Crown Office or the police.
This circuit board fragment was the crucial link at the trial, and suggested that the bomb departed from Malta. But investigators concluded last year that the circuit board fragment used in evidence at the original trial, although mimicking circuit boards owned by Libya, could never have come from any such board.
The latest development comes in the wake of a petition calling for an independent inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the bombing of the US airliner over Scotland, which killed 270.
According to the prosecution, the suitcase containing the bomb left Malta on an Air Malta flight to Frankfurt before being transferred to another flight to Heathrow. But in 2007, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission concluded that a miscarriage of justice may have taken place.
Dr Swire called on the authorities to probe the circuit board fragment, its origin, and the way it found its way inside a police evidence bag to be used by the prosecution as a key part of their evidence.
In a letter sent to Scotland’s Lord Advocate, seen by The Sunday Times, Dr Swire said the circuit board fragment was the one last remaining credible link to Malta.
“The misuse of this one piece of evidence should surely be enough on its own to destroy the prosecution case.
“Now that we know that that link never existed, since the fragment was clearly fraudulent in its intent, there is little reason to pay attention to the buyer of the clothing, the Gaucis, the happenings at Luqa that day and so on,” Dr Swire said.
“There is of course no proof, intelligence services try hard not to leave any. There is also however something called common sense.”
Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci had identified Mr Megrahi as the person who had purchased clothes (whose fragments were found on the disaster site) from his shop in Sliema in December 1988. However, Mr Gauci’s testimony was subsequently undermined by news that the CIA had compensated him for his evidence and the fact that he had been coached by investigators to pick out Mr Megrahi, who died last year.
Dr Swire said adherence to the Camp Zeist 2001 verdict, in the face of the immediate criticisms of the UN’s special observer, among others, while at the same time refusing to investigate well-supported allegations, would be seen as dereliction of the Crown Office’s duty to deliver timely justice. Effectively it would also amount to protection for the real perpetrators.
“As her father I have a right to know who murdered her and why her life was not protected,” Dr Swire said, in reference to his daughter Flora, who was 24 at the time.
“I am proud simply to be involved in a search for the truth, concerning my daughter’s murder, and not in any attempt to denigrate others in the process.”