Sunday, 24 November 2013

"He has a desire to gain financial benefit..."

[Today’s edition of the Maltese newspaper The Sunday Times contains a long article about the dealings of Lockerbie investigators with Tony Gauci, the shopkeeper who “identified” Abdelbaset Megrahi as the purchaser of the items that were in the Samsonite suitcase along with the bomb. It reads as follows:]

Lockerbie detective: give $3m to Maltese witnesses

Gauci maintains his silence

The lead investigator in the Lockerbie bombing personally lobbied US authorities to pay two Maltese witnesses at least $3 million for their part in securing the conviction of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, documents published today in The Sunday Times of Malta reveal.
The documents are salient to the case not only because they could potentially cast doubt on the motivation of star witness Tony Gauci’s crucial testimony that convicted Mr Megrahi, but also because the information about the payment, and the discussions the police entertained with the Gaucis on the compensation, were withheld from the defence.
The former Libyan secret service agent had lost his appeal against his life sentence for his role in the bombing of Pan Am 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 270 people in December 1988.
Mr Gauci provided key evidence at the 2001 trial because he identified a number of clothes fragments found at the crash site as having been bought from his shop in Sliema. He later identified Mr Megrahi as the person who bought those clothes.
This evidence tied together the prosecution’s thesis, that the bomb loaded on to the doomed Pan Am flight at Heathrow Airport had first left from Malta before being transferred via Frankfurt. But serious doubts were raised about Mr Gauci’s testimony over the years.
The Sunday Times of Malta is in possession of dozens of documents annexed to a damning 2007 review report which showed there could have been a miscarriage of justice.

‘He is worthy of reward’

In one of the documents, Detective Superintendent Tom McCulloch, from the Scottish Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, wrote to the US Department of Justice on April 19, 2002, making the case for Maltese witness Tony Gauci and his brother Paul to be compensated for their role in the trial from the US Reward for Justice programme.
McCulloch wrote: “At the meeting on 9 April, I proposed that US 2 million dollars should be paid to Anthony Gauci and US 1 million dollars to his brother Paul. However, following further informal discussions I was encouraged to learn that those responsible for making the final decision retain a large degree of flexibility to increase this figure.”
The letter followed on from a meeting with the Justice Department and the FBI and another letter sent a year earlier in which Mr McCulloch first made his plea on behalf of the Gaucis.
In this first letter, he wrote: “There is little doubt that (Tony Gauci’s) evidence was the key to the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohammed Al Megrahi. I therefore feel that he is a worthy of nominee for the reward...”
Mr McCulloch said he had discussed the reward with the Crown Office (the prosecution) but they would not offer an opinion on whether the Gaucis should be paid as this was deemed “improper”.
“The prosecution in Scotland cannot become involved in such an application,” Mr McCulloch wrote.

The Sunday Times of Malta tried to obtain Mr Gauci’s reaction to this latest development but he refused to comment outright, maintaining the media silence that has characterised his role in the whole affair.
The letters were referred to in a report by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) which in 2007 sent the case back to the High Court and cast doubt whether Mr Al Megrahi was the Lockerbie bomber after all.
The commission’s damning conclusion was partly based on the content of these letters but the documents remained secret. The SCCRC report only saw the light of day last year when it was published by the Scottish Herald and investigative journalist John Ashton, who was engaged by Megrahi’s defence team.
Scottish police officers defended their actions before the SCCRC, insisting that the Gaucis were never offered money during the investigation.
Mr Gauci himself gave evidence before the commission and stressed that he had never shown any interest in receiving payment. To sustain his point, he underlined the fact that he had turned down various offers for payment by journalists, who had been hounding him and his brother for an exclusive, over the years.
He had also turned down an offer made by an unidentified Libyan man for compensation from the Libyan regime.
However, extracts from a diary kept by Dumfries and Galloway Inspector Harry Bell give a different picture. In a note dated September 29, 1989, early into the investigation, Mr Bell noted that FBI Agent Chris Murray had told him he had “the authority to arrange unlimited money for Tony Gauci” and that he could arrange for “$10,000 immediately”.
Moreover, there are also various entries in the classified documents in which Scottish police describe Paul Gauci as being very forceful about seeking some sort of financial gain and also that he influenced his brother greatly.
“It is apparent from speaking to him for any length of time that he has a desire to gain financial benefit from the position he and his brother are in relative to the case. As a consequence he exaggerates his own importance as a witness and clearly inflates the fears that he and his brother have...”
In another document, it was also pointed out that Paul Gauci leveraged on a perceived loss of takings at the shop Mary’s House.
Paul Gauci’s testimony, which was relevant mostly because it corroborated Tony Gauci’s evidence, was never used at the trial.
It is not clear, therefore, why he was eligible for the reward programme, which awards money in exchange for information on major terrorism cases of interest to the US.
However, as Mr McCulloch pointed out in one of his letters: “ should never be overlooked that his major contribution has been maintaining the resolve of his brother”.
In 2010, Mr Al Megrahi accused the Maltese witness of “betraying a fellow human being for money”.

‘Shocking document’

Robert Black, an emeritus professor of Scots law, who is widely credited as having been the architect of the non-jury trial at the neutral location of Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, said he found one of the documents shocking.
In this document, dated January 12, 2001, the officer, whose name was redacted, writes: “(the Gauci brothers) will maintain their current position and not seek to make adverse comment regarding any perceived lack of recognition of their position. Nor is it anticipated would they ever seek to highlight any remuneration perceived”.
Reacting to this passage, Prof Black said: “It is no part of an investigator’s or prosecutor’s function to seek to secure that a witness maintains his current position.
“To try to influence a witness, or secure benefits for him, to achieve this result is grossly improper. The passage also recognises that it is important that the remuneration arrangement should not be ‘highlighted’. This manifests a clear, and correct, understanding that the arrangement is not one that would meet with legal or public approbation.”
The act itself of paying out money to a witness is no longer illegal under Scottish law, although it once was. However, Prof. Black insisted, it is something that should always be disclosed to the defence.
“In this case, the authorities did everything in their power to conceal it, including ‘mislaying’ Harry Bell’s diary until it was eventually unearthed by the SCCRC in the course of their investigation of the Megrahi conviction.”

Journalist Joe Mifsud, who covered the Camp Zeist trials said yesterday the documents were interesting because they provided further proof a payment had been made.
“There had been several reports over the years about whether there had been a payment but it was never really confirmed,” said Dr Mifsud, who wrote a book about the Lockerbie bombing.
“However, I never found Gauci’s testimony convincing irrespective of this information. I always felt that a number of things he had stated in the trial would have collapsed had they been tested properly with an onsite inquiry.
“Some of the things he said would come apart if only the judges placed his [statements] in their physical context in Malta – but they never did,” Dr Mifsud said.


  1. MISSION LIFE WITH LOCKERBIE, 2013 -- Go on ground to new facts... (google translation, german/english):
    Tony Gauci's first statements without outer influence by police officers:

    >The sale was midweek, Wednesday, I think on November or December 1988.

    >The sale was made before the Christmas decorations went up.

    > The weather was like when the man came to the shop? -- When he came by the first time, it wasn't raining, but then it started dripping. Not very -- it was not raining heavily. It was simply -- it was simply dripping, but as a matter of fact he did take an umbrella, didn't he? He bought an umbrella.

    > On Wednesday afternoon, November 23, 1988, Gauci's brother Paul did not work in Mary's House. He went home to watch a football match on television. On Wednesday November 23, 1988, Radio Televisione Italiana (RAI 1, RAI 2, RAI 3) broadcaosted the football match Dresden - Roma. Channel RAI 3 for example broadcoasted the two halftimes in two parts starting at 16:55 hours local time, finishing at 17:44 hours local time and between 17:58 and 18:44 hours local time.
    The day after 7th December - 8th December 1988, was an official public holiday (Immaculate Conception) and the boutique "Mary's House" was closed.
    Significant: After the visite of the alleged clothes buyer - Gauci could not remember at a public holiday !?
    As example, the day after November 23, November 24, was not an official public holiday, "Mary' s House" was open, as Gauci remembered precisely.

    Eleven years later: 11th July, 2000 at the court in Camp van Zeist, witness Gauci gave to protocol that with the visit of the Libyan buyer (Abdelbaset al Megrahi) in the Boutiqe "Mary's House": was on 7th December 1988 and "the Christmas decorations went up"!

    Wrong identification of the Libyan cloths purchaser by Tony Gauci.
    There was some very light rain on 23th of November 1988 from 18:00-19:15, while there was no rain on 7th of December 1988, from Mark Vella, Managing Director, METEOMALTA, also confirmed at the Trial Kamp van Zeist, from ex witness number 03, Major Joseph Mifsud chief meteorologist at the meterological office at Luqa Airport in Malta.

    Since August 1990, definitely a wrong date was created (7th of December, 1988) in order to accuse deliberately Abdelbaset al Megrahi as the buyer of the cloths in "Mary's House".
    Mr. Abdelbaset al Megrahi was not in Malta on Wednesday, 23th of November 1988!

    Was payed for untruth witness testimony with dubious evidence, under the cover of the "Witness Protection Programm" (WPP) ?

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd., Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage:

  2. A mysterious visit (1989) of Mr. Henry Woods Bell, Detective Chief Superintendent of Scottish Police in Malta

    Superintendent Henry Wood Bell was involved in the investigation of the bombing of PanAm 103 on behalf of the Criminal Records Office in Glasgow.
    He visited officially on the 11th of September 1989 the police authorities in Malta.
    The purpose of the meeting with the prime minister of Malta, Mr. de Marco, police commissioner A. Calleja and officers from other countries (FBI, BKA Germany) was to brief Maltese authorities and to seek permission and authority to make inquiries in Malta regarding the air disaster.

    Before the official meeting in Malta, after a meeting June 1989 with the Swiss police, two unauthorized investigation trips to Malta were made by a unknown officer in July and by officer Henry Wood Bell, on 1 - 8 September 1989 without the permission of the Maltese government. These inquiries werd related to the recovery of a blue Babygrow which had been tracked back to Malta.

    MEBO information: The "subversively" use of a blue baby-overall (babygrow) was developed from Swiss police telephone monitoring from December 14-22, 1988 between Edwin Bollier and Mr. Ali, a driver in Tripoli. Mr Ali has nothing to do with the PanAm 103 attack! (It concerns Ali's order of a blue baby-overall for his 1 - 2 year old baby son.)

    When the Scottish police officer, Henry Bell, visited Anthony Gauci, "Mary's House" on September 1, 1989 there was no babygrow on stock. Mr. Bell made a report from Gauci's statement on the 1st of September 1989. The statement was not signed by Anthony Gauci until the 2nd of September 1989!
    Bell says that he returned to Gauci's shop on a second day and then had him sign the statement! Gauci said he would think things over that night and see if he could recall anything else ...

    Were the Gauci brothers influenced by Henry Bell to tell what he wanted to hear?

    Excerpt, trial Kamp van Zeist, witness no. 344 Mr. Henry Woods Bell:
    Q-- (Mr. Harry Bell) Did you have Mr. Gauci read the statement before he signed it? A-- No. Mr. Gauci could not read English, and the statement was read out to him. And he signed it. Q-- And in what language was the statement read out to him? A-- In English. Q-- In English... !!!

    Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd.

  3. I still think that the flawed "identification" is the strongest common-sense argument against Megrahi's conviction. Of all the many flaws in the evidence against Megrahi it is the one which plays best with those whom I discuss the subject.
    Gauci's earliest description (30th August 1989) of the clothes purchaser was of a dark-skinned Libyan, 6ft or more in height with a large head, big chest and very well built. He was later specifically to dismiss Megrahi, 36 year old at the time of the disaster and quite slightly built, in a photo montage as being too young to be the man he had seen. Incredibly though, the Scottish police who showed him the photos took his comment " It's been a long time now and I can only say that this photograph, number 8, is the only one really similar to the man who bought the clothing but it is younger." To any fair-minded person this is a definite non-identification but, according to one DC John Crawford, he and his euphoric colleagues immediately went out and got "very pissed" to celebrate.

  4. I agree, Grendal. That's why I'm slightly uncomfortable with the line of argument in this article, powerful though it is. The identification was a crock of nonsense anyway, even if not a brown penny had changed hands. Concentrating too much on the money might conceivably lead to the suspicion in some minds that the identification was sound, but people are trying to have it thrown out on a "technicality".

    Something else has also struck me. That is the first time I have seen a decent scan of what is presumably the original of Megrahi's passport photo. It's not very like him, but it is significantly more recognisably him than what was actually shown to Tony Gauci.

    The photo shown to Tony was obviously a photocopy, although someone in court tried to say they "believed" it was an actual photo. I have a copy of the uncropped photocopy, and the aspect ratio is significantly different.

    There is nothing different about the content of the two pictures. The same field of view is shown. But the real photo above is significantly narrower than the photocopy. The photocopy is stretched sideways so that Megrahi's face is shown wider than it really is. Then once the collar and tie are cropped off, it looks even less like him.

    It becomes clearer and clearer that the photo Tony identified in February 1991 doesn't actually look like Megrahi at all.

    I wish I'd seen that image before the book was finalised, actually. Oh well, too late now.

  5. It is not clear why the above photograph 117 (FC3521) appears in the article. It is not referred to in the text.

    However this photograph was supposedly taken on the 22nd May 1989 (according to the SCCRC "at the latest" on the 22/5/89 but according to the photographic log it was taken on the 22nd May 1989).

    However on page 51 of Dr Hayes' notes of the 12th May 1989 Dr Hayes has sketched the five individual sheets of "multi-layered fragment of paper"
    (PT/2) both sides AND identified them as forming part of sheets 3 through 12 of a Toshiba bombeat manual!

  6. The judges confessed they did not know how Megrahi loaded the suitcase at Luqa but found him guilty and ‘his’ accomplice not guilty and this alone constitutes the extraordinary miscarriage of justice.

    Whereas the burnt clothing fragment was vital State evidence of an IED!

    But I doubt a Maltese tourist shop owner could identify some burnt clothing (see above) as the same item sold to a stranger on a certain day, because identical items are mass produced.

    And yet the defence at Zeist did not raise reasonable doubts about this, but only whether the clothing was purchased on a rainy day.

  7. "That's why I'm slightly uncomfortable with the line of argument in this article, powerful though it is. ..."

    Funny. A few hours before you wrote that, I wrote something like "There are so many heavy arms against Gauci that the may get in the way of each other" but IE11 crashed on me. (Google has warned against using IE11 already, I forgot it. Use another browser).

    Yes, there is always a risk that the argument that may be picked up is one that puts the case in a weaker light.

    This is also anyone with a case should remember in presentations, that it does not matter how many years he has repeated himself ad nauseam, the next listener may never have heard it.

  8. SM, what bothers me about the reaction to the SCCRC trashing the Gauci identification is that nobody seems to have worked out the ramifications.

    The reason the judges decided to hand-wave away the Bedford suitcase to "some more remote corner of the container" was that they thought the presence of the man who bought the clothes in the bomb suitcase at the airport at the time KM180 was preparing to depart tipped the balance to that route of entry of the bomb.

    So, if Megrahi didn't buy the clothes, then the man who bought the clothes wasn't at the airport when KM180 departed. Which leaves the whole Malta theory under a huge question mark. Nobody seemed to pick up on this.

  9. Dave, once again you are wrong. The checked Yorkie trousers were not mass-produced. They were made on Malta by Alexander Calleja's firm and he showed his order book to the police. Only one pair was made in that pattern in that size. It was supplied to Mary's House on 18th November 1988. Tony Gauci remembered the customer who bought the trousers.

    You're simply imagining how you think things might have happened instead of finding out what did happen. Which makes you wrong, nearly all the time.

    Suppose you imagined it would be a sunny day today. But then it actually rained constantly. Would you carry on for the rest of the week trying to persuade people that it was actually sunny, because that's how you thought it ought to have been?