[What follows is excerpted from a report published in The Pan Am 103 Crash Website on the proceedings of this date in 2000 at the trial at Camp Zeist:]
The Lockerbie trial heard references Monday to a circuit board, part of a suitcase and charred clothing found among debris after a bomb destroyed Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland in December 1988. A spokesman for the prosecution declined to say if the items were the same pieces of key evidence expected to be introduced later as alleged remnants of the timer, case and clothes used to pack and detonate a bomb.
A Scottish police officer testifying in the trial of two Libyans said today that he raised concerns about the possibility of missing evidence early on in the bombing investigation of Pan Am Flight 103. Douglas Roxburgh testified about evidence-tracking procedures during the fourth day of the proceedings against alleged Libyan intelligence agents Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah.
Roxburgh, 63, was the acting deputy chief ... of a police unit that catalogued debris brought in from around Lockerbie and identified pieces that might be of interest to investigators. He told prosecutor Alan Turnbull that “tens of thousands” of items were brought to a collection point near Lockerbie, where they were catalogued and stored.
Mr Roxburgh said he set up the storage centre at Dexstar. It was guarded 24 hours a day and split into sectors which corresponded to the sectors of Lockerbie and the surrounding areas being searched by teams of officers. Any suitcases brought in would be examined by sniffer dogs for explosives as police feared there could be secondary devices. He told the court: “It would be put through an x-ray machine like at an airport for the detection of explosives. It would then be booked in and given priority examination in case it was going to be required for further forensic examination.”
If there were any explosive marks, for example, the item would be logged and taken to a special area where AAIB staff or explosive experts could examine it, he said. Mr Roxburgh said: “We started off by ensuring that items were not required in the legal process and we started releasing stuff back to the relatives sometimes via consulates but it was mainly personal possessions like rings, jewellery and wallets.” He told how a laundry was set up at Dexstar to clean clothing before it was returned to the victims' families. (...)
Under cross-examination, Fhimah lawyer Richard Keen talked about worries that agencies other than police were dealing with items and that some property was removed by those agencies.
Roxburgh admitted he raised such concerns at a meeting with superiors in the days following the tragedy after “someone had taken off property where there had been traces of explosion.” But he later said he had ascertained that the “someone” had been from a legitimate investigating authority in Britain, suggesting it did not constitute a security breach. He also refused to answer Keen's question about whether British and foreign intelligence agencies were involved in the collection of evidence.
Taylor also questioned the identity of one American, who was said to wear hearing aids in both ears and told police at the scene he was an explosives expert working for the Pan Am airline. (...)
Two police officers were asked to describe the discovery of a piece of charred circuit board and a mangled remnant of an aluminum baggage container. The special attention given these two pieces of evidence suggested they would figure as significant items later in the trial, when prosecutors seek to link the two suspects to the bombing.
The prosecution also introduced as evidence part of a brown suitcase and referred to pieces of charred clothing, but again did not specify whether these were the Samsonsite case and tweed jacket allegedly used by the accused to pack the bomb. The evidence was wrapped in plastic and not clearly visible to reporters watching the proceedings on closed-circuit television. Some items were referred to only by coded numbers or the labels police gave them at the time. (...)
Alexander Arnott, 57, a former detective constable, said he had been part of a team given a remit to check metal debris for signs of damage by an explosion. He had been assisted by an American, Walter Cosguard, an expert in explosive substances. “He said he was from Pan Am’s investigation branch and had been involved with explosives all his life, so much so he had to wear two hearing aids because he was almost deaf,” said Mr Arnott.
The expert had indicated that a piece of container frame found in the countryside around Lockerbie appeared to have been marked and pitted by an explosion.