Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Gauci and the Zeist identification parade

[What follows is excerpted from the Wikipedia article Pan Am Flight 103:]

An official report, providing information not made available to the defence during the original trial, stated that, on 19 April 1999, four days before identifying al-Megrahi for the first time [at an identification parade at Camp Zeist], Gauci had seen a picture of al-Megrahi in a magazine which connected him to the bombing, a fact which could have distorted his judgment. Gauci was shown the same magazine during his testimony at al-Megrahi's trial and asked if he had identified the photograph in April 1999 as being the person who purchased the clothing; he was then asked if that person was in the court. Gauci then identified al-Megrahi for the court stating – "He is the man on this side. He resembles him a lot".

[A report in The New York Times headlined Scottish Panel Challenges Lockerbie Conviction, which was published after the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the Megrahi conviction back to the appeal court, contains the following:]

The section of the commission’s findings made public centered on evidence relating to purchases of clothing at a shop called Mary’s House in Sliema, Malta, on Dec 7, 1988; the clothing was said to have been wrapped around the bomb. The bomb was said to have been put on board a plane in Malta and then transferred to a Pan Am flight from Frankfurt to London before it was loaded onto Flight 103 at Heathrow Airport.
The original trial found that the bomb was hidden in a Toshiba radio cassette player placed inside a brown, hard-shell Samsonite suitcase with clothing traced to Mary’s House. The trial court found that Mr Megrahi bought the clothing at the shop on Dec 7, 1988. But, the Scottish commission ruled, new evidence relating to the dates when Christmas lights were switched on in Malta suggested that the clothes had been bought before Dec 6, 1988, before the time when there was evidence that Mr Megrahi was on Malta.
Additionally, the commission questioned the reliability of evidence by the shop’s proprietor, Tony Gauci, who singled out Mr Megrahi in a lineup. It said that additional evidence, not available to Mr Megrahi’s defense in the original trial, indicated that four days before the lineup “at which Mr Gauci picked out the applicant, he saw a photograph of the applicant in a magazine article linking him to the bombing.”
“In the commission’s view, evidence of Mr Gauci’s exposure to this photograph in such close proximity” to the lineup “undermines the reliability of his identification of the applicant at that time and at the trial itself,” the commission said.
In Scotland, Mr Megrahi’s lawyer, Tony Kelly, read a statement from his client: “I was never in any doubt that a truly independent review of my case would have this outcome. I reiterate today what I have been saying since I was first indicted in 1991: I was not involved in the Lockerbie bombing in any way whatsoever.”

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