Thursday, 12 January 2017

Lockerbie trial hears of security doubts

[This is the headline over a report published on the BBC News website on this date in 2001. It reads in part:]

Defence lawyers in the Lockerbie trial have called into question security arrangements at an airport which handled the luggage containing the bomb.

The defence had alleged that Palestinian extremists - and not the two Libyans accused - were the real bombers behind the outrage which killed 270 people in December 1988.

The prosecution case has focused on allegations that the Libyans were responsible for sending the bomb on its way from Malta and that it was transferred to a Heathrow-bound flight at Frankfurt Airport.

But defence counsel William Taylor QC argued that security procedures at Frankfurt were inadequate, with baggage handlers making mistakes as they struggled to cope with pressures of work.

The systems in place were much less effective, he said, than in Malta.

The defence case has been that a German cell of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC) had the means and the motive to attack the Boeing 747 Pan Am Flight 103.

Mr Taylor pointed out that the defence did not have to prove anything.
It only had to sow sufficient doubt over the prosecution case against Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah in the minds of the judges.

Mr Taylor, representing Mr Al Megrahi, said: "There was pressure at Frankfurt because of guarantees given in relation to the turnaround of the aircraft to operate the baggage conveyance system as quickly as possible."

He told the court evidence had been heard that security passes were not always checked at Frankfurt and there was at least one example of a "mystery worker" placing luggage into the system and sparking a security alert.

Mr Taylor also raised the question of whether there was a possibility of another unaccompanied bag on the Pan Am flight.

He said documents from German airline Lufthansa showed there were many questions raised by a piece of luggage which arrived at Frankfurt from Warsaw on the day of the bombing.

The court was told printouts showed it was headed for flight 103 but no passenger from the Warsaw plane was destined for the same aircraft.

"Did it fly from Heathrow on Pan Am 103? Did it contain the improvised explosive device?" he asked.

The case was adjourned until Tuesday when Mr Taylor is due to continue his closing speech.


  1. The mindboggling incompetence of Bill Taylor's performance is like something out of a Greek tragedy.

    1. Perhaps it was meant to be. Couldn't agree with you more.