Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Deep scepticism about ethics and legality of Gauci payments

[The Scotsman today carries a letter from Ian Johnstone in response to yesterday’s article in which a lead Lockerbie investigator claimed that the payments to the Gauci brothers were “absolutely above board”. It reads as follows:]

Whatever contentions are made about the “correctness” of paying the Gauci brothers in recognition of their witness ­testimony in the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie atrocity (your report, 25 November) there remains deep scepticism about the ethics and UK legality of such conduct.

The importation of United States legal practices into aspects of what was essentially a Scottish criminal case at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands is questionable from the outset.

Practices such as plea bargaining and witness testimony payment, which occur, though not straightforwardly, in US legal processes, are subject to much circumspection of legal proceedings in Scotland.

The technicalities of payments to the Maltese brothers – as to whether these complied with proper legal standards and did not breach bribery codes of conduct, or otherwise – will stay in a fine balance of ethical observation probably until a number of other answers are provided for questions relating to contentious issues about the Lockerbie trial.

A prominent Austrian philosopher, Hans Koechler, who was appointed as one of five international observers at the trial by then United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, is well documented in querying the US Justice Department supervisory role in the Scottish prosecution team.

Mr Koechler said it was his opinion that there seemed to be considerable political influence on the judges and the verdict.

It was, and still is, a view shared by many people who are not so disposed to issue a clean sheet to the Lockerbie trial and verdict.

[I submitted a letter in the following terms to The Scotsman which the newspaper has not run, wisely, in the light of Mr Johnstone’s much better one:]

In your report “Lockerbie reward payouts ‘above board’” (25 November) lead Lockerbie investigator Tom McCulloch states that the payments to two Maltese witnesses were “absolutely above board”. They were not.

Following his newspaper’s gaining access to a document detailing Scottish investigators’ dealings with the Maltese witnesses, a journalist asked me the following questions:
1.      Is it legal for investigators to take this sort of role in relation to witnesses?
2.      Can witnesses be paid in relation to evidence given in a criminal trial under Scottish law?
3.      What is your opinion about the practice?
4.      I would also like your comment on the subtle implications in the passage [from the document] I am quoting above.

Here are my answers which, I believe, set out the true position in Scots law:
1. It is not today actually illegal.  It once was, and would lead to the witness being barred from giving evidence in court. Today, it is a practice that is frowned upon and is a matter that should always be disclosed to the defence since it is a factor that will affect the court's assessment of the credibility of the witness's evidence.  It is not the actual payment after the trial that is important, it's the fact that before the trial he was enquiring of the investigating authorities about the possibility of payment.  That is a matter that the prosecution (the police in Scotland are the agents of the prosecution) have a duty to disclose to the defence. They did not do so.  This is just one of the many instances of material helpful to the defence being improperly withheld.
2. It is not illegal to pay witnesses after the trial is over. But it is something that should never be discussed with a witness before or during the trial.  If a witness raises the issue with the police or the prosecution, the only proper response is to say that this is a matter that simply cannot be discussed. While the investigating authorities in this case may not actually have promised payment, it is clear that the matter was discussed as a possibility. That was improper.  As soon as the issue was raised, the investigators should have stated that this was a matter that they simply could not discuss.
3. It is a dangerous and disreputable practice. Where it occurs, it must be disclosed to the defence. In this case, the authorities did everything in their power to conceal it, including "mislaying" Harry Bell's diary until it was eventually unearthed by the SCCRC in the course of their investigation of the Megrahi conviction.
4. It is a quite shocking document. It refers to the witness's "loyalty". The duty of the police and prosecution is not to secure or to seek a witness's loyalty to the prosecution case, but to try to secure that he tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, without fear or favour.
Equally shocking is this passage: "the witnesses, who are the subject of this report, will maintain their current position and not seek to make adverse comment regarding any perceived lack of recognition of their position. Nor is it anticipated would they ever seek to highlight any remuneration received." It is no part of an investigator's or prosecutor's function to seek to secure that a witness maintains his current position. To try to influence a witness, or secure benefits for him, to achieve this result is grossly improper. The passage also recognises that it is important that the remuneration arrangement should not be "highlighted". This manifests a clear, and correct, understanding that the arrangement is not one that would meet with legal or public approbation.


  1. First of all, the role of the witness is to provide his honest opinion, for the sake of providing it only.

    Absolutely nowhere, no way, can it be defended to provide large rewards to trial witnesses. It is automatically an institutional bribe.
    I will get back to this.

    Rewards, like e.g. money, destroy any credibility, something even our trial judges had understood.

    For this reason there can never be a payment, beyond compensation for time and expenses.

    And why should some witnesses get paid, while others would not?

    Some may say "I can hardly afford, the travel and time". For this reason they might decide not to testify. And so it is in the interest of justice that compensation can be paid, but it can in no way be a "reward".

    Ideally it should be "a bit too little". It is also in the interest of the witnesses themselves.

    Of course it may also be necessary to protect a witness. That is another matter.

    - - -

    The practice of rewarding is well known.
    Gangster bosses and the mafia have always been generous to people who said the right thing in court.
    And the opposite to those who said the wrong.

    Both from Uncle Sam and the mob it is a despicable, harmful and unjust practice.
    Each time such an amount has been paid, it is a part of institutionalized bribing, something that Guaci was well into.

    It is nothing less than judicial terrorism.

    - - -

    At times, it may be justified to offer rewards for information, even though bias is also introduced here.
    But a person rewarded this way can never be a trial witness as well.

    - - -

    I'd think that above would be one of these "stating the obvious" things I have talked about earlier, but at times you are surprised.

  2. Tony Gauci needs lie detector.

  3. MISSION LIFE WITH LOCKERBIE, 2013 -- Go on ground to new facts...
    After examining several hundred police documents by Swiss (ex BUPO) - there are new questions.
    Because of legal version only in German language.
    Entitled inquiry to the Scottish Police 'Lockerbie Investigation Operational Team'
    Michael Dalgleish
    Detective Superintendent Police Scotland
    Specialist Crime Divisio, Division 14 HQ
    Dumfries DG1 1PZ, SCOTLAND

    1.) Wurden die Kleider von Gauci's (Mary House) durch Agent Hassan Badri (ABH) in die Schweiz gebracht, welche von Edwin Bollier, am 18. Dezember 1988, im Auftrag von Badri, in einem braunen Koffer, nach Tripoli überbracht wurden ?

    2.) Wurden die "Gauci Kleider" später aus Tripoli, von (unbekannt) nach Great Britain gebracht und in Scotland für einen "Beweis-Betrug" in der "Lockerbie-Affäre", gegen Libyen und Abdelbaset al Megrahi missbraucht ?

    Nach einem Meeting in der US-Botschaft in Bern, am 17. 01. 1991, wurde ich, Edwin Bollier (MEBO Ltd) von den schweizerischen 'BUPO' Kommissaren Knaus und Flückiger, in ihr Office eingeladen.
    Dort wurde mir von Kom. Flückiger u.a. mein damaliges Flugticket vom 18. 12. 1988 (nach Tripoli) vorgelegt. Flückiger verwies mich auf den Eintrag eines "Bag", von 19 kg. Ich erklärte ihm, was er bereits aus früheren Einvernahmen wusste, dass es sich bei diesem "Bag" um den braunen Koffer mit Kleidern handelte (für einen Freund bestimmt) welcher Hassan Badri (ABH) mir auf den Flug nach Tripoli übergeben hatte.

    Auf die Frage ob ich wisse wo diese Kleider gekauft wurden, machte ich (Bollier) den Vorschlag für eine klare Antwort, Hassan Badri, nach Zürich einzuladen...

    In diesem Zusammenhang taucht heute eine neue Frage auf:

    Wieso wurde bei diesem Treffen mit Kommissar Flückiger, Edwin Bollier massiv nahegelegt - Hassan Badri nicht in die Schweiz einzuladen, ansonsten Hassan Badri verhaftet würde ?

    Bei einer Akteneinsicht am (22. 08.2013) bei der Bundesanwalt-schaft in Bern stellte ich (Bollier) fest, dass Hassan Badri kurze Zeit nach meinem Besuch 1991, bei P. Flückiger in Bern zu Besuch war (sign) ! Badri wurde nicht verhaftet... Er bekam weiterhin Visas für die Schweiz.

    Heute frage ich mich ob Hassan Badri die Kleider inkl. Koffer, am 14. 12. 1988, von Malta aus, zu Bollier gebracht hatte, weil Badri zu diesem Zeitpunkt von Malta in die Schweiz eingereist war ?
    Wollte die 'BUBO' mit Agent Badri, aus gewissen Gründen, kein Befragungsprotokoll über diese Kleider Angelegenheit führen ?

    Auf dem Telefonüberwachungs Protokoll vom 19. 01. 1991, von (BUPO/F, TK MEBO/BOLLIER) - ausgewertet aus Tonbandaufzeich-nungen, wird lückenhaft - nur folgendes verkürzt geschrieben:

    BOLLIER tel. BADRI nach Tripolis 621 515, ein 'Ledercase' wird von Bo erwähnt. Bo warnt Badri in die Schweiz zu kommen !

    Protokoll Nr. 376 (Gespräch auf Tonband) Auftrag BA: Unterhalten sich über Polizeiermittlungen betrifft Bollier - Badri Libyen - Koffer mit Kleidern aus Malta etc.

    BA Protokoll Nr. 373 (auf Tonband engl. gesprochen): Bollier erinnert Badri daran, er habe mal ein Ledercase für B. in die Schweiz gebracht. Badri will sich nicht daran erinnern, hat Ausflüchte. Bollier warnt Badri in die Schweiz zu kommen, die Polizei sei bei Bollier gewesen.

    Diese Angelegenheit ist äusserst dubios und muss erneut über internationale Rechtshilfe näher überprüftt werden !

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage: www.lockerbie.ch

  4. Tony Gauci needs lie detector.

    Unfortunately, lie detectors don't work. They're pseudoscience.

    Anyway, it's perfectly likely Tony wasn't lying as such. He repeatedly said Megrahi resembled the man who bought the clothes. He never said he was the man who bought the clothes.

    Memory is a funny thing. Being repeatedly asked to recall a commonplace indcident months and indeed years in the past, and being asked to identify a stranger of a different race seen only once, is a great way to produce false memories. Showing a witness scores of pictures and asking him to point out the one that most resembles his memory is pretty much guaranteed to ensure that any original memory of the actual man is over-written by a construct made up of these new images.

    Tony Gauci is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Indistinct recollections, massive police pressure to give certain answers, and the sniff of life-changing quantities of cash can have fairly profound effects on someone like that.