Monday 25 November 2013

Lockerbie reward payouts ‘above board’

[This is the headline over a report in today’s edition of The Scotsman.  It reads as follows:]

A lead investigator in the Lockerbie bombing inquiry has insisted that reward payments handed to two key witnesses after the trial of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi were “absolutely above board”, despite allegations that the pair gave testimonies in the knowledge they would be paid. [RB: Only Tony Gauci gave evidence at the trial.  The payment to his brother, Paul, was for his efforts in maintaining Tony’s resolve.] 

Tom McCulloch was speaking after a Maltese newspaper published extracts of police documents that said Mr Gauci had a “clear desire to gain financial benefit” from his ­evidence.

Mr McCulloch said the decision by the American authorities to give Tony Gauci $2 million (£1.2m) and his brother Paul $1m was entirely in keeping with the US Department of Justice policy. [RB: What matters is not "US Department of Justice policy" but Scottish criminal law and practice and the integrity of the investigative and prosecution process.]

It follows the publication of new documents last month by author John Ashton that suggest Mr Gauci made it clear before the trial in 2000 that he wanted to be remunerated for his crucial evidence. 

Former Libyan intelligence officer Megrahi was jailed in January 2001 over the bombing of Pam Am Flight 103 in December 1988, which led to the deaths of 270 people. He was later released and died in Tripoli in May 2012.

Mr Gauci’s evidence was key because he identified a number of clothes fragments found at the crash site as having been brought from his shop in Sliema. Mr McCulloch, a former detective chief superintendent with Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, last night told The Scotsman that cash had “never been discussed with them at 
any time” prior to Megrahi’s conviction.

As the lead investigator into the atrocity, he wrote to the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in April 2002 to recommend the pair receive a reward of $3m because he said the Gaucis fitted the criteria for its Reward for Justice programme. He added: “All proceedings were complete before I nominated the Gauci brothers for consideration.”

Documents released since the trial have repeatedly suggested that the Gaucis expressed an interest in being paid for their testimony under the DoJ scheme from an early stage – which critics say questions its reliability.

Mr McCulloch said that the brothers would have known about possible payments, but that nothing was offered at any stage before the trial.

He said: “From the outset, the Department of Justice had floated the idea of a reward to anyone who came forward… [but] it had never been discussed with them at any time prior to [the trial] – so it’s absolutely above board. There is absolutely no suggestion that there was anything underhand. It was all above board.”

The Crown Office stated last month: “No witness was offered any inducement by the Crown or the Scottish police before and during the trial and there is no evidence that any other law ­enforcement agency offered such an inducement.”

[The relevant extracts from the document in question can be read here, in the section headed “He is worthy of reward”.  Last week I was asked by The Sunday Times of Malta to comment on this document.  Here is what I wrote to the journalist:]

You ask: “My questions are:

1.      Is it legal for investigators to take this sort of role in relation to witnesses?
2.      Can witnesses be paid in relation to evidence given in a criminal trial under Scottish law?
3.      What is your opinion about the practice?
4.      I would also like your comment on the subtle implications in the passage I am quoting above.”

My answers are:

1. It is not today actually illegal.  It once was, and would lead to the witness being barred from giving evidence in court. Today, it is a practice that is frowned upon and is a matter that should always be disclosed to the defence since it is a factor that will affect the court's assessment of the credibility of the witness's evidence.  It is not the actual payment after the trial that is important, it's the fact that brfore the trial he was enquiring of the investigating authorities about the possibility of payment.  That is a matter that the the prosecution (the police in Scotland are the agents of the prosecution) have a duty to disclose to the defence. They did not do so.  This is just one of the many instances of material helpful to the defence being improperly withheld.
2. It is not illegal to pay witnesses after the trial is over. But it is something that should never be discussed with a witness before or during the trial.  If a witness raises the issue with the police or the prosecution, the only proper response is to say that this is a matter that simply cannot be discussed. While the investigating authorities in this case may not actually have promised payment, it is clear that the matter was discussed as a possibility. That was improper.  As soon as the issue was raised, the investigators should have stated that this was a matter that they simply could not discuss.
3. It is a dangerous and disreputable practice. Where it occurs, it must 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.
4. It is a quite shocking document. It refers to the witness's "loyalty". The duty of the police and prosecution is not to secure or to seek a witness's loyalty to the prosecution case, but to try to secure that he tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, without fear or favour.
Equally shocking is this passage: "the witnesses, who are the subject of this report, 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 received." 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.


  1. MISSION LIFE WITH LOCKERBIE, 2013 - Go to new facts on the ground(googletranslation,german/english)

    Had under the cover of the "Witness Protection Programm" (WPP) bribes been payed for inaccurate testimony with falsified/manipulated evidence?

    After high amounts of money had been payed to Libyan CIA agent Abdul Maghid Giaka for immoral procuration of evidence and giving wrong evidence at Camp van Zeist, we have to focus also on the activities of Anthony Gauci, shopkeeper at "Mary's House" in Malta. He was questioned on the occasion of police investigations on 1/2/8/10/13/14 and on 26 September 1989. Afterwards, from mid of 1991 on a big amount of money was given to Gauchi for his testimony of wrong fabricated circumstantial evidence...

    On April 14, 2009 diclosed crown documents are supposed to be handed over to the defence team of Abdelbaset al Megrahi in this context. This could bring clear insight into the bribes payed to the Gauci brothers ...

    In Gauci's police statement (Prod. 469, page 1 and 7 at line 11) on the 10th of September 1990, Tony Gauci gives reference to the various police interrogations in September 1989: "I have been showed many photographs over the last year, and I have never seen a photograph of the man who bought the clothing".

    MEBO: In all the picture parades shown to Gauci always a picture of Abdelbaset al Megrahi (Q9) was included but never a picture (Q13) of the Libyan CIA defector Abdul Magjid Giaka!

    Probably it was supressed because Abdul Magjid Giaka resembled the policy robotdrawing Q12 to 90%!

    Magjid Giaka alias "Puzzlepiece", was not a "Shirker" and a "Liar" as the FBI tries to present him today, but according to CIA cables and other indications he was the central man in Malta for the conspiracy against Libya. No wonder that the orders concerning him are still secret and under national security!

    MEBO investigation concludes: Not Mr. Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was the Libyan buyer of cloths at Tony Gauci (Boutique Mary's House) on 7th of December but according to our investigation, on the 23th of November 1988, 18:45 clock, the Libyan Agent for the CIA, Abdul Magjid Giaka bought the cloths!
    One of the classified cables reveals that before the PanAm 103 tragedy Giaka was under pressure from his handler to deliver additional indication of events inside Libyan Arab Airlines station at Luqa Airport against Abdelbaset al Megrahi and Lamin Khalifah Fhimah in the period before the 21th of December 1988. Giaka got the order to purchase cloths on the 6th of November 1988. This meeting was held in a safe house at Malta.

    Another meeting was held on the 5th of December, before Abdelbaset al Megrahi arrived on the 7th of December in Malta and a further meeting took place on the 20th December 1988, the day before the Lockerbie-tragedy!

    On the 14th of July 1991 Giaka left the Maltese shores unofficially on an US boat and was transferred to the USS Navy Vessel MS "Butte". For the interview his contact person was FBI Special Agent, Mr. Harold Mount Hendershot, and a number of other agents from the US Department of Justice.

    Before the US/UK indictment against the Libyan officials Fhimah and Megrahi was published on the 14th/15th of November 1991 a further decisive US meeting with Magjid Giaka took place.

    Mr Giaka received the following sums from the CIA, part cash, part via his bank account in Switzerland in his name:
    On Fiscal Year 1989: US$ 29,460; 1990: $ 20'000; 1991: $ 26'000;and 1992: $ 26,000 again.
    Official records until October 1999 show that the US Justice Department had payed US$ 324,000 in connection with Giaka for accommodation, travelling, etc. A code used on Giaka's form regarding the witness protection programme is "Puzzle Piece" WF 140440.
    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage:

  2. google translation, german/english:

    In the FBI head quarters at Washington, Feb. 1991 - I, Edwin Bollier, later witness (nr.548) had received also an offer of
    $4 million - (from the FBI Special Agent Richard Marquise, led at this time, the U.S. Task Force which included the FBI, Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency) - to testify that the fragment
    (PT-35) was part of a 'MEBO
    MST-13'timer supplied to Libya... Bollier rejected the offer and forwarded the story to Swiss police 'BUPO'.

    On 18 July 2007, Ulrich Lumpert admitted he had lied at the trial. In a sworn affidavit before a Zurich notary public, Lumpert stated that he had stolen a Prototype MST-13 printed circuit board from Mebo and gave it without permission on 22 June 1989, to "an official person investigating the Lockerbie case".

    Professor Dr Hans Köchler, a UN observer at the Lockerbie trial who received a copy of Lumpert's affidavit, said: "The Scottish authorities are now obliged to investigate this situation. Not only has Mr Lumpert admitted to stealing a sample of the timer, but to the fact he gave it to an official and then lied in court.

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland