Monday, 30 June 2014

A blast from the past

[On this date in 2000 the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeist, which had begun on 3 May, was adjourned until 11 July. I posted on The Lockerbie Trial website, edited by Ian Ferguson and me, the following summary of what could be regarded as having been established by the evidence at the time of the adjournment.]

Apart from graphically setting the scene by establishing that Pan Am 103 was destroyed over Lockerbie and that 270 people were killed as a result, how far does the evidence led to date go towards establishing the case set out in the indictment against the two accused persons? 

On the assumption that the witnesses who have so far given evidence which is favourable to the Crown case are accepted by the judges as being credible (ie honest and truthful) and reliable (ie accurate in their observation and recollection of events) -- and in the light of defence challenges in cross-examination regarding eg the accuracy of record keeping, the provenance of certain crucial items of wreckage (where, when and by whom they were found; through whose hands they thereafter passed) and the competence and neutrality of certain expert witnesses, judicial acceptance of the credibility and reliability of witnesses cannot be regarded as a foregone conclusion -- it is possible that the following might be held to have been provisionally established, always subject to any later contrary evidence which may be led by the prosecution or the defence.

1.  That the seat of the explosion was in a particular Samsonite suitcase (which contained clothing manufactured in Malta and sold both there and elsewhere) at or near the bottom of a particular aluminium luggage container (AVE 4041).

2.  That the bomb had been contained in a black Toshiba RT SF 16 cassette recorder.

3.  That a fragment of circuit board from an MST-13 timer manufactured by MeBo AG formed part of the timing mechanism which detonated the bomb.

4.  That MeBo AG supplied MST-13 timers to the Libyan army, as well as to other customers such as the East German Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Stasi).

5.  That the first-named accused, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, was known to the owners of MeBo AG;  that he was involved, in an official capacity (possibly as a member of the Libyan intelligence services), in obtaining for Libya electronic equipment (including timers) from MeBo;  and that a company of which he was a principal for a time had accommodation in the premises occupied by MeBo in Zurich.

6.  That the first-named accused possessed and used Libyan passports in false names.

7.  That the first-named accused, on occasion under the false name of Ahmed Khalifa Abdusamad, visited Malta on a number of occasions in 1988, including the night of 20/21 December.

No evidence has as yet been led to attempt to establish (a) that the Samsonite suitcase containing the bomb was launched on its fatal progress from Malta (as distinct from being directly loaded onto Pan Am 103 at Heathrow, or starting its journey at Frankfurt) or (b) that the clothing in the suitcase was purchased in Malta by either of the accused.  It is when the prosecution advances evidence on these two matters that it will be possible to say that evidence which is positively incriminatory of the accused has been led.  That stage has not yet been reached; but it is anticipated that it is with the chapter of evidence relating specifically to these matters that the trial will reconvene on 11 July 2000.


  1. A fragment of circuit board, a fragment of burnt clothing and a witness who could identify the burnt clothing as the remains of a specific bit of clothing purchased by a specific person 3 years after the event is beyond absurdity, but nevertheless is the evidence that was mostly unchallenged by the defence and indulged by the media.

    Only the effrontery of the Big Lie can explain how people could entertain this absence of evidence as evidence.

  2. Except, it didn't happen quite like that of course.