Sunday, 27 September 2015

Giaka's second day in witness box

[On this date in 2000, Libyan defector Abdul Majid Giaka spent his second day in the witness box at the Lockerbie trial. What follows is the contemporaneous report published on]

The Crown's star witness returned to the witness box today for a continuation of the defence counsel's attacks started yesterday by William Taylor QC for Megrahi. Today he was branded a "liar" and as a desperate man who made "incredible" claims to his CIA paymasters.

Giaka was accused by both Richard Keen QC for Fhimah and Taylor of fabricating crucial evidence to stay on with the CIA when it became clear that they were about to ditch him.

William Taylor said that two years after the Lockerbie bombing, CIA telegrams revealed Giaka was a "shattered" man who desperately needed to come up with new information for his CIA handlers.

He suggested Giaka offered new information within hours of a make-or-break meeting with the CIA and US Department of Justice officials.

The Americans, he suggested were saying "come up with something and the future is rosy, come up with nothing and you're cut off without a penny."

The court heard, that only then did Giaka say he saw one of the defendants with a suitcase like the one which contained the bomb, a "fact" that he had failed to mention in his previous two years as a CIA informer.

The defence team also highlighted the bizarre claims Giaka made to the CIA about Libyan leader Colonel Qadafi being a freemason. In one episode, more reminiscent of a farce than a Scottish murder trial, Richard Keen QC asked Giaka about some of the "incredible" claims he had made to the CIA.

Keen said Giaka had told his CIA handlers and the US Grand Jury that he was a relative of King Idris of Libya and that Colonel Qadafi was involved in an international Masonic conspiracy.

The question: "How did you discover that Colonel Gadaffi is a mason?" was put to Giaka six times.

Giaka repeatedly asked Keen for the source of his question before Lord Sutherland intervened and ordered Giaka to answer the question.

"The person is in Libya and for security considerations I can't mention the name of that person" replied Giaka.

Mr Keen asked how Giaka knew the president of Malta and the Libyan foreign minister were also masons, and Giaka said he did not remember.

"Do you remember suggesting that they were somehow conspiring together as masons over a political matter," said Mr Keen.

"I don't recall," replied Giaka.

"It's such a strange accusation to make that it would surely stick in your memory," responded Keen.

Later in his testimony responding to more awkward cross-examination, Giaka said, "I was not given any offer to act as a witness or any other offer. They did not try to buy me off."

"You also told the Americans that you were a relative of King Idris, the last king of Libya."

Giaka said he had never made this claim, suggesting the comment might have arisen from a translation error during an interview with CIA agents.

Keen pressed on, "Mr Giaka, you are a liar, aren't you? You tell big lies and you tell small lies, but you lie, do you not?"

Giaka said, "I do not lie about anything."

Secret cables revealed the CIA were disappointed with the information Giaka had given them into the Libyan intelligence service, said Taylor.

American agents reported Giaka was pressing them to boost his $1,000 per month CIA pay by $500 and was becoming "desperate" as he struggled to find himself a new role in life after leaving the Libyan secret service.

He even asked the CIA to give him $2,000 so he could import bananas from Malta to Libya and make a large profit, said one CIA telegram.

William Taylor said none of the scores of CIA documents about Giaka in the two years after the bombing mentioned his account of seeing defendant Fhimah collect a brown Samsonite suitcase from the luggage carousel at Malta airport and walking out without it being checked by Customs.

Taylor went on: "There's no mention of any incident like the one you described involving a brown Samsonite suitcase in the CIA cables at all. There is a deafening silence on this."

Taylor said Giaka requested an emergency meeting with the Americans on July 13, 1991, and met them on a US warship off Malta, when the CIA was going to decide whether to retain his services.

"Lo and behold, the deafening silence ends the very next day when you come up with a brown Samsonite suitcase and this rubbish about Customs," said Taylor.

"The very next day is the first mention by you, Giaka, of these matters."

Giaka replied that the American officials were very good investigators who could distinguish between truth and lies.

After day two of the testimony of the Libyan informer, Abdul Giaka, the Crown must be breathing a sigh of relief that tomorrow will be his last day in the witness box.

The court was once again treated to the "evidence" of the crown star witness and it plumbed new depths in terms of Giaka's bizarre statements of high level Masonic conspiracy.

The very mention of Freemasonry in court today must have set several hearts fluttering as it is a well known fact that Freemasonry can count many lawyers amongst its brethren.

It was clear from Giaka's demeanour that he was ill prepared for the cross-examination he is undergoing. Although it is common practice to coach witnesses with mock cross-examination, a number of questions put to Giaka seemed to throw him. This suggests either that his coaching by the Department of Justice was not as thorough it might have been or that they were completely outmanoeuvred by Taylor and Keen.

It now appears that the US Department of Justice is downplaying the importance of Giaka as a witness, as they told one American relative today that the Crown had "done enough to secure convictions, without Giaka." This of course is a complete reversal of the mantra coming from Washington and Edinburgh for years.

Many relatives have been putting very awkward questions to the DOJ today regarding what they see as evidence from Giaka which has been very unhelpful to the Crown's case.

[A verbatim transcript of Giaka’s evidence can be found here.]

1 comment:

  1. I think it's better for me not to express how I feel about certain members of my former profession who put this demented joker forward as a witness, let alone how I feel about their attempts to suppress the cables.