Monday, 13 April 2015

"I wouldn’t want to be convicted on identification evidence of that quality”

[On this date in 1999, Abdelbaset Megrahi took part in an identification parade at Camp Zeist. The Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci picked him out with the words “Not exactly the man I saw in the shop 10 years ago, but the man who look a little bit like exactly is the number 5". The trial judges were satisfied on this evidence (and a somewhat similarly qualified courtroom identification) that Gauci had identified Megrahi as the purchaser of the clothes that accompanied the bomb in the brown Samsonite suitcase. This “identification” would have been seriously challenged had Megrahi’s second appeal not been abandoned. It will undoubtedly be challenged if the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission allows a further appeal.

What follows is excerpted from an article in the Scottish Sunday Express on 21 August 2011:]

A dossier for Megrahi’s appeal – which was dropped days before his release – claims the ID parade in April 1999 “fell short of what was fair”. Gauci, who sold clothing that was later packed in a suitcase with the bomb, said he could not be sure if any of the men were the same individual who had visited his shop a decade earlier.

Eventually, he picked out Megrahi as the one who “looked a little bit like exactly” the purchaser.

The report claims the parade was carried out after “an extraordinary length of time” using “stand-ins” who were not “sufficiently similar”.

It also points out that Megrahi’s photograph had been widely published. Police reports from the parade are described as “incomplete and confusing”.

Professor Steven Clark, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, states: “At no time did [Gauci] ever clearly and definitively assert that Mr. Megrahi was the man who came into his store.

“Rather, in each identification procedure, he stated that Mr. Megrahi was ‘similar’ or ‘resembled’ the man.” 

Another eyewitness identification expert, Professor Tim Valentine, of Goldsmiths University of London, said: “I do have concern of the quality of the identification evidence. I wouldn’t want to be convicted on identification evidence of that quality.”

Scottish campaigner Iain McKie, a member of the Justice for Megrahi committee,  added: “The identification process of Megrahi was totally and utterly flawed and wrong. Yet the conviction rests on that identification. The whole process was rotten.”

[Professor Steve Clark’s report on the “identification” of Megrahi can be read here (paragraphs 77 to 90 deal particularly with the ID parade).  Professor Tim Valentine’s report can be read here (paragraphs 8.18 to 8.30 and 9.2 are particularly relevant).]


  1. New York Festival Awards:

    The full documentary film "Lockerbie revisited" by Regisseur Gideon Levy, shown to Scottish members of Parliament about important facts concerning the conspiracy against Libya. was banished again!

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd Telecommunication Switzerland. URL:

  2. According To recent investigations in the evidence of fraud, about the MST-13 timer circuit board (PT-35) in addition by a CIA document, did what declassified in 2014 - shows that in the proof scams something vastly went wrong - "The plug does not fit the socket" !
    The crime scene took place in the 'Crime Labatory'. Hear and see also the testimony in a interview from ex FBI agent Mr. Fred Whitehurst (ex boss of expert Tom Thurmann).
    MEBO Ltd Switzerland requires an international criminal investigation, into one of the largest crime case, about fraud proof of the MST-13 timer circuit board (PT-35) - The following persons must be heard :

    > former FBI Special Agent Richard A. Marquise, befor led the U.S. task force which
    included the FBI, DEP. of Justice and the CIA. (USA)
    > ex FBI expert, Tom Thurmann. (USA)
    > ex expert, Allen Feraday, ex 'RARDE' (UK)
    > Mr. Peter Flückiger, employees of the Swiss security service (NDB) ex (BUPO) CH.
    > Prosecutor Peter Lehmann, Federal Prosecutor's Office in Bern (CH).
    > unofficial, Ing. Ulrich Lumpert, ex MEBO Ltd. (CH)

    Please see the interview from ex FBI Agent Mr. Fred Whitehurst:

    by MEBO Ltd Telecommunication Switzerland, URL:

  3. There's a third report, by Professor David Canter, that can be read here.

    It's dated 2009. It's not dissimilar to the other two reports.

  4. I don't speak Maltese, so this is a guess. However, that word we keep reading - "exactly".

    It's all over the place. It peppers the speech of a number of Maltese witnesses. I don't know what word has been translated as "exactly" but it seems to be something of a filler word, an emphasis word, rather than an integral part of the sentences. It's also a very commonly-used word, much more commonly-used than "exactly" is in normal English speech.

    To me, in most of the contexts where the word appears, the word "actually" would make more sense.

    "Not actually the man I saw in my shop, 10 years ago, but the man who look a little bit like actually is the number 5."

    See what I mean?

    Now I do it myself. Say and write "actually" far too often. It doesn't mean anything. It's a filler word, over-used for emphasis. The solution to good English is usually just to take it out.

    "Not the man I saw in my shop, 10 years ago, but the man who look a little bit like is the number 5."

    See what I mean again?

    I could be completely wrong of course, but I'd love to get a Maltese transcript of what Gauci said, and ask someone else to translate it. Alternatively, if Gauci was speaking in English, did he mean to say "actually" but used the word "exactly" instead? It would be an understandable mistake.

    1. I see exactly what you mean, Rolfe, and it's very interesting. I'll see if Herman Grech of The Times of Malta can shed any light on this.

    2. I confess to simply taking the word out when I "quoted" Gauci in my book. "Not the man I saw in my shop." His own words at the ID parade. What does "exactly" add to the sentence anyway? Nothing. It's a filler word.

      Maybe I should have stuck my neck out even further. "Not actually the man I saw in my shop." But if I waffle on enough about a resemblance hopefully these nice policemen will be pleased with me for helping them get the bad man convicted, and then they'll give me lots of money.

    3. Oooh, I'm slow. Now I see (exactly) what you did there.

  5. You know, with or without "exactly" or "actually", that first phrase should have killed the identification stone dead. It's shocking that it didn't.

  6. Here's what Herman Grech of The Times of Malta says:

    ' I suspect it is a filler word. In Maltese we tend to use the term “mhux ezattament”, which is loosely translated to “not exactly”.

    'I’ve asked a couple of colleagues and they believe the closest translation of “mhux ezattament” would be “not really the man I thought he was”.'

    1. It's obvious that a translator would translate a word like "ezattament" as "exactly", but if it's actually a filler word, that isn't right. "Exactly" isn't used as a filler word in English. It seems to add some sort of certainty to the sentence, even though it's hard to see what sort and it doesn't really make sense.

      "Really" seems to fit quite well though.