Sunday, 20 October 2013

Eyewitness Testimony in the Lockerbie Bombing Case

This is the title of an article by the distinguished American psychologist Professor Elizabeth F Loftus, an abstract of which has just been posted on the website of the Social Science Research Network. The full text of the article can be read here. Professor Loftus analyses in depth the evidence of Tony Gauci, which the judges at Zeist accepted as sufficient to identify Abdelbaset Megrahi as the purchaser in Malta of the items that were in the brown Samsonite suitcase along with the bomb. Professor Loftus concludes that that evidence was utterly unreliable. The final few sentences of this important article read as follows:

“... Al-Megrahi was released from prison in 2009 and sent back to Libya on compassionate grounds because of advancing cancer. Public outrage was sparked. Al-Megrahi lived with his cancer for a few years … and died in 2012. One cannot help but wonder whether the outrage over his release might be tempered if those angry individuals were to seriously examine the suspicious eyewitness testimony that led to Al-Megrahi’s conviction in the first place. My examination has led me to seriously wonder: Is the Lockerbie bomber still out here?”


  1. Elizabeth Loftus draws special attention in her abstract to Gauci's identification of a photograph of Al-Megrahi on 15th February 1991.

    Readers should be aware that around that same date, the senior police investigator Harry Bell was under pressure from Gauci and Gauci's brother for some kind of reward money.

    The amounts were staggering, described in a letter from the US Department of Justice as "unlimited", but - again in the words of the US Department of Justice "only if he gives evidence".

    Bell recorded the Gauci demands and the contents of the US DoJ correspondence in his personal diary.

    But his diary and all mention of demands about possible rewards were concealed from the trial judges and the defence team.

    This was one of the major facts which led the SCCRC to conclude that a miscarriage of justice might have occurred.

  2. And the SCCRC findings will never go before a court. McAskill has seen to that.