Monday, 26 September 2016

Defector Giaka in witness box at Zeist

[On this date in 2000 Abdul Majid Giaka entered the witness box at the Lockerbie trial. His evidence extended over three days. What follows is the text of the report on the BBC News website of the first day:]

A former Libyan spy has told the Lockerbie trial he saw the accused with a suitcase similar to the one alleged to have contained the bomb.

Abdul Majid Giaka, a key prosecution witness, has been giving details of his role as a Libyan secret service officer at Luqa Airport in Malta.

The prosecution alleges that the two Libyans placed a bomb in a brown Samsonite suitcase and routed it onto Pan Am Flight 103 from Malta.

Giaka told the court he saw Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah with such a suitcase shortly before the bombing in December 1988.

Mr Giaka has been living in the US for 10 years under CIA protection after defecting from Libya.

He was escorted to the special Scottish court at Camp Zeist, Holland, by 30 US marshals.

Speaking in Arabic from behind a screen and with his voice distorted to protect his identity, Mr Giaka told the court he was recruited to the JSO (the Libyan security service) after graduating from university.

He told prosecutor Alastair Campbell QC that he started working for the Libyan security service in 1984 and in 1986 he moved to become assistant station manager in Malta.

This posting, based at Luqa Airport, was part of the intelligence service's airline security section, to protect aircraft, passengers and crew of Libyan Arab Airlines.

The two defendants also worked at the airport for the Libyan airline and were also allegedly members of the Libyan security service.

In court he identified Abdelbasset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi as the head of the airline security section and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhima as the station boss.

BBC Scotland correspondent Reevel Alderson, who is in court, said this was the first time in the trial that Fhima had been identified by a witness.

Giaka described how, shortly before the bombing in 1988, he saw the two accused arrive from Tripoli. They were carrying a brown Samsonite suitcase.

He also said that, two years before the bombing, Fahima had showed him two bricks of what he said was the explosive TNT.

The TNT was in the drawer of a desk in the office they shared.

He said: "Fahima told me he had had 10 kg of TNT delivered by Abdel Basset (Megrahi).

"He opened the drawer and there were two boxes which contained a yellowish material."

Mr Giaka went on to outline the role of the JSO in terrorism and assassinating dissidents outside Libya and said his concerns led him in 1988 to contact the American Embassy.

He became a double agent, providing information about Libyan intelligence and people suspected of involvement in terrorism.

Defence lawyer Bill Taylor QC complained that much of what he had to say was "mere tittle-tattle and gossip," and reminded the court that hearsay can be inadmissible in a Scottish murder trial.

Giaka's appearance in court came after weeks of wrangling between the prosecution and defence.

At the heart of the objections has been the issue of the availability of notes of interviews held between Mr Giaka and his CIA handlers in America.

These papers - or cables - have been trickling out with varying degrees of censorship.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that very few relatives of the victims are watching the trial on closed-circuit TV at four sites in the US and Britain.

Virtually no-one has been to the site in Dumfries, while even in New York there is usually only eight to 10 people watching.

[RB: A verbatim transcript of Giaka’s evidence can be found here, starting at page 2095.]


  1. Great PDF file in in "Giaka’s evidence can be found here"

    But note, that browser-embedded PDF viewers may not like the 14 MB size of this file, and the time it will take to download (e.g. mine didn't)

    For this reason it is recommended to RIGHT-click on the file, and SAVE it first.

    Then, when the entire file is downloaded, double-click on it, and it should open rather instantly, using your built-in PDF-viewer (which is usually better and much faster than the browser-embedded one anyway.)

    The transcript. All this talk, on 3000++ pages, which I suppose to some people will bring the illusion of a well-founded verdict. The more the merrier. No wonder there were so few spectators to this trial on the TVs. Who on earth would have time?

    And then put whatever weight you want on whatever in the stream of arguments - and we can infer whatever we want, however thin.

    The judges did not use the simple method of lining up pro and contra in a summary, like e.g. Moraq Kerr does it in her book.

    If they had, many crucial conclusions would glaringly stand out as irrational. The acceptance of the Luqa-Franfurt-Heathrow bomb route would be one important example.

    Giaki was a charade - of course he would not be accepted. A desperate paid CIA agent with nothing but unverifiable statements, in a highly politicized trial? Does it get worse?

    But he gave the judges the chance to show how impartial they were by dismissing him, wasted the time of the defense by countering him, and of course he told the right confirming story to those who already had made up their minds about Megrahi.
    So he had his function.

    Unforseen was the drawback of his involvement being a crystal clear proof of Colin Boy's crimes.

    The more the merrier, yes.
    Makes me think about the prosecution material against Milosevic. 500,000 pages, 30 times the size of Encyclopedia Britannica. Take that, mate, and defend yourself against whatever may be postulated in it.

    We only want justice.

  2. Oh, but Kenny MacAskill thinks that although Giaka was lying some of the time, he wasn't lying all of the time. That is, once you've figured who Kenny is talking about as he keeps getting Giaka's name wrong.

    It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic. He's obviously just parroting what people in the Crown Office are telling him without making any critical evaluation for himself.