Saturday, 20 June 2015

Timer fragments had been "modified"

[On this date in 2000, Edwin Bollier, co-owner of the Swiss company MEBO, testified at the Lockerbie trial. The following account of his evidence is taken from the website, edited by Ian Ferguson and me:]

Giving evidence today, Edwin Bollier, a partner in the Zurich based company MEBO, told the court that the timer fragments he was shown had been modified.

The Crown alleges that the timer, which was used in the detonation of the bomb which blew up Pan Am 103, was manufactured by MEBO and supplied to Libya.

After studying the fragments with a magnifying glass, Bollier said "They have been modified, I swear they have been modified."

He identified the two fragments as appearing to come from a MST-13 circuit board.

He went on to say though, that the pieces seemed to have been burnt since he first saw them at a Scottish police office last year and one fragment was slightly smaller than a photo taken a short time after it was discovered.

Alan Turnbull for the Crown, said small pieces were shaved off from the fragments so forensic scientists could perform tests, but Bollier claimed that several versions of the fragments might be floating about.

Bollier then claimed the fragments he viewed could have come from timers he sold to Libya or to East Germany or might even be counterfeit copies since the blueprints Mebo used to make the circuit boards had mysteriously disappeared.

When asked where the fragment could have come from Bollier said, "It could be counterfeit."

According to Bollier, Libya in 1985 ordered 20 timers with MST-13 circuit boards. These he claimed were samples produced by his company in hopes of getting further and bigger orders from Libya.

But Mebo was also hoping to sell the same type of timer to the Stasi in East Germany and delivered two prototype versions to them in 1985.

Bollier then claimed that the prototypes were different colours with the green circuit boards going to Libya and the brownish gray boards going to the East Germans.

Bollier then announced that a man who had a company in Florida claimed to have made replicas of Mebo's MST-13 timers and supplied them to the US Central Intelligence Agency.

He did not name the firm or the man, but said he had a letter from the man, who had also published the information on the Internet.

Earlier in his testimony Bollier said he witnessed tests, at a special forces training area near Tripoli, of timers he had sold to members of the Libyan Army in 1985.

Bollier said he was present when two of the timers were used on bomb cylinders, and he went to say that they were to be used in aircraft.

Bollier said that the Libyan Army would also use them in their war with Chad, blowing up camps to stop them falling into enemy hands.
Bollier had earlier identified Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, one of the accused, as a man he did business with on several occasions before the bombing. He pointed him out in the courtroom.
Bollier was not sure what position Megrahi held, but he thought that he was a fairly high official and well connected. Bollier described meeting Megrahi several times at the MEBO office in Zurich and in Tripoli.


  1. Bollier said he was present when two of the timers were used on bomb cylinders, and he went to say that they were to be used in aircraft.

    This aspect of Bollier's evidence has caused some confusion, both at the trial and subsequently, when some, including Crown counsel, have been eager to interpret it as "bombs with which to blow up aircraft". In fact, as is clear from the context, the bombs were intended to be dropped by military aircraft. The role of the timer was to prevent accidental detonation during take-off.

    BTW these bombs were a nasty kind of anti-personnel weapon which caused many injuries to troops on both sides in WW2, so no brownie points to Libya for making them or MEBO for assisting.

  2. "bombs with which to blow up aircraft"

    There is no such thing as a timer for "bombs with which to blow up aircraft".
    A timer is simply a timer, and it can be used in any context where an event should happen at a certain time.
    We could just as well talk about dynamite as an explosive "with which to blow up aircraft" and so adding extra weight to a claim about such plans of a country buying dynamite.

    Confirmation bias, the willingness to see evidence supporting a certain theory where it really does not, is a hallmark of the case.

    Grave examples from the trial are:
    "If he was the purchaser of this miscellaneous collection of garments, it is not difficult to infer that he must have been aware of the purpose for which they were being bought."

    Why is it not difficult?

    People buy clothes as a common everyday thing and in the extreme majority of cases with totally legitimate intents of use.
    For this reason alone the statement needs further proof.

    The cake is of course taken by:
    "There are situations where a careful witness who will not commit himself beyond saying that there is a close resemblance can be regarded as more reliable and convincing in his identification than a witness who maintains that his identification is 100% certain."

    The statement it is used, without further evidence that we have such a case, for accepting the quality of a witness with a hopeless history of wrong statements, and high uncertainty in those that support the prosecution theory.

    I got the idea of googling the exact phrase
    "where a careful witness who will not commit himself beyond saying that there is a close resemblance"
    i.e. including the quotes.

    I see that everything that needs to be said has been so already.

  3. Libya bought timers that was a very specialized limited supply. It is of course important evidence, if a fragment from such a timer is found in the Lockerbie debris.

    Bollier's statements this time support the idea, that there was something wrong with the fragment. Unfortunately, the MEBOs have no place as witnesses in a courtroom.

    A good easy-read break-down of the issue about the timer fragment can be found

    The article was written before further evidence, of decisive nature, against the validity of the fragment was discovered: the Sn-only lanes on the print boards.

    I just discovered that Morag Kerr's "Adequately explained by stupidity" is partly available on Google Books with a very read-worthy coverage:

    - - -

    It is noteworthy that 'the crown' has bothered to give an elaborate answer on another matter
    "Statement on Lockerbie Timer Fragment Claims"
    on experiments done by Dr John Wyatt.
    in which they repeat their mantra
    "The only appropriate forum for the determination of guilt or innocence is the criminal court."
    which, BTW, of course, is simply not correct.
    If the murder victim walks in the door, the innocence of the convicted is established on the spot, regardless of what any court at any time may say or have said.
    With 'the crown's etablished history of dragging and sabotaging matters, and with absurd re-trials that do not re-evaluate the evidence, the statement is especially hollow.

    But in any case, I am grateful that they take this unusual step to bother dealing with surfacing evidence.
    Unfortunately they have to my knowledge not bothered to answer the Sn-only issue of above.
    If I am correct, the reason for their silence is very hard to see. Compared to Dr. Wyatts findings, the motivation for answering this absolutely critical matter should be sky high, as the following appears to be the only possible finding:

    A. MEBO did not produce a timer that the fragment P/35b could have come from.
    B. The only other reasonable explanation for the fragment is, that it is faked with the intention to be false evidence in the trial.
    C. This faking could only have been done by, or with the knowledge of, FBI.

    Immensely disturbing, and I truly hope that I am just plain wrong.

    And so I look forward to be pointed to an answer from 'the crown'
    Or Mr. Marquise, if you are reading this, can't you help me (and surely others)?

    Thanks in advance!

  4. I see that the link to Kerr's book may be hard to make work.
    The below should fix the problem: