Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Political overtones, memory gaps and flawed evidence

[Abdelbaset al-Megrahi died on this date in 2012. What follows is excerpted from the obituary by Robert D McFadden published on 20 May 2012 in The New York Times:]

The enigmatic Mr Megrahi had been the central figure of the case for decades, reviled as a terrorist but defended by many Libyans, and even some world leaders, as a victim of injustice whose trial, 12 years after the bombing, had been riddled with political overtones, memory gaps and flawed evidence. (...)

Investigators, while they had no direct proof, believed that the suitcase with the bomb had been fitted with routing tags for baggage handlers, put on a plane at Malta and flown to Frankfurt, where it was loaded onto a Boeing 727 feeder flight that connected to Flight 103 at London, then transferred to the doomed jetliner.

After a three-year investigation, Mr Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, the Libyan airline station manager in Malta, were indicted on mass murder charges in 1991. Libya refused to extradite them, and the United Nations imposed eight years of sanctions that cost Libya $30 billion.

Negotiations led by former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa produced a compromise in 1999: the suspects’ surrender, and a trial by Scottish judges in the Netherlands.

The trial lasted 85 days. None of the witnesses connected the suspects directly to the bomb. But one, Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper who sold the clothing that forensic experts had linked to the bomb, identified Mr Megrahi as the buyer, although Mr Gauci seemed doubtful and had picked others in photo displays.

The bomb’s timer was traced to a Zurich manufacturer, Mebo, whose owner, Edwin Bollier, testified that such devices had been sold to Libya. A fragment from the crash site was identified by a Mebo employee, Ulrich Lumpert.

Neither defendant testified. But a turncoat Libyan agent testified that plastic explosives had been stored in Mr Fhimah’s desk in Malta, that Mr Megrahi had brought a brown suitcase, and that both men were at the Malta airport on the day the bomb was sent on its way.

On Jan 31, 2001, the three-judge court found Mr Megrahi guilty but acquitted Mr Fhimah. The court called the case circumstantial, the evidence incomplete and some witnesses unreliable, but concluded that ‘there is nothing in the evidence which leaves us with any reasonable doubt as to the guilt’ of Mr Megrahi.

Much of the evidence was later challenged. It emerged that Mr Gauci had repeatedly failed to identify Mr Megrahi before the trial and had selected him only after seeing his photograph in a magazine and being shown the same photo in court. The date of the clothing sale was also in doubt.

Investigators said Mr Bollier, whom even the court called ‘untruthful and unreliable,’ had changed his story repeatedly after taking money from Libya, and might have gone to Tripoli just before the attack to fit a timer and bomb into the cassette recorder. The implication that he was a conspirator was never pursued.

In 2007, Mr Lumpert admitted that he had lied at the trial, stolen a timer and given it to a Lockerbie investigator. Moreover, the fragment he identified was never tested for residue of explosives, although it was the only evidence of possible Libyan involvement.

The court’s inference that the bomb had been transferred from the Frankfurt feeder flight was also cast into doubt when a Heathrow security guard revealed that Pan Am’s baggage area had been broken into 17 hours before the bombing, a circumstance never explored.

Hans Köchler, a United Nations observer, called the trial ‘a spectacular miscarriage of justice,’ words echoed by Mr Mandela. Many legal experts and investigative journalists challenged the evidence, calling Mr Megrahi a scapegoat for a Libyan government long identified with terrorism. While denying involvement, Libya paid $2.7 billion to the victims’ families in 2003 in a bid to end years of diplomatic isolation.


  1. Living with the "Lockerbie Affair", 2015 (google translation, German/English):

    This fax letter by expert of Allen Feraday (RARDE) to Detective Chief Superintendent Stuard Henderson, of 22 January 1990, by the Court in Kamp van Zeist, from "special", coherent reasons, obviously has been embezzled !

    This "fax gap" has been cover up and leap over at the Court, in the context, with a *COMMENT by Feraday, on a later memorandum, passed to William Williamson, label (DP-137) of 10 September 1990 > (date subsequently faked to date, September 15, 1989)...

    *COMMENT text: "Williy, enclosed are some Polaroid photographs of the green circuit board. Sorry about the quality, but it is the best I can do in such a shorte time".
    "I feel that this fragment could be potentially most important. So any light your lads/lasses can shed upon the problem of identifying it would be most welcome."

    The pagination of the notes was described by witness Dr. Hayes as "an unfathomable mystery," for which he did propose an explanation, but unfortunately one that does not work...
    (MEBO objection: the picture on the Polaroid photo at this time (January 1990) showed no green circuit board, but a black carbonized PC-board. Photo a.o. nr.334 and Photo nr.117. (psychological influence)...

    Résumé: The fax of 22.1 1990 from Expert Feraday to Detective Chief Superintendent Stuard Henderson, becomes the decisive KEY, for all criminal manipulations and changes of evidence data, which are deliberated forged > in the RARDE-report 181 > and were fabricated before, in the criminal forensic laboratorys !
    A green circuit board (PT 35) composed of nine (9) layers of fiberglass, existed bei Feraday (RARDE) - first after mid-May 1990, as a samlple duplicate, without black cabonized trace. (Photo nr. 335, comparison (DP-347/b) with (DP-347/a) without section (DP-31/a) and (DP-31/b).

    Through a ex-secret FBI report, no. 262-23, dated 20 August, 1990, can now represented by the "deception", the procedure of official experts, within the 'Lockerbie Investigation Team' included, som officers of the Scottish Police are expressed:

    Feraday’s MEMO 22/01/1990: Green Circuit Board Fragment PT35

    It is visible, the criminal scene took place in a criminal laboratory for investigation. Please see the interview from ex FBI Agent Mr. Fred Whitehurst:

    This document was before classified "SECRET" in its entirety.

    The FBI report can be found at link:

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage:
    follow supplements, soon...

  2. Allen Feraday's FAX memo can be read via link:

  3. Al-Megrahi lived to see, that everyone who spends any time on studying the Lockerbie case today will learn that his conviction was nonsense, and that his children would know for sure as well.
    A very important knowledge to have in the final days.

    Unfortunately there is no similar comfort available for those who will die knowing that they failed their appointed responsibility in the service of justice.