Wednesday, 11 December 2013

‘I’ve proved Lockerbie bomb not from Malta’

[This is the headline over a report published yesterday afternoon on the website of The Times of Malta.  It reads as follows:]

New book’s author says explosive device was planted on plane at Heathrow

The bomb that blew up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie originated at Heathrow and not Malta, a new book “proves” 25 years after the deadly explosion.

“I have proved the bomb originated at Heathrow,” said author Morag Kerr, who has been given access to statements, reports and photographs, some of which have not been publicly available until now.

The book Adequately Explained by Stupidity? – Lockerbie, Luggage and Lies comprehensively destroys the official account of what happened on December 21, 1988.

In 2001 Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of placing the bomb in a brown Samsonite suitcase and loading it on to an Air Malta aircraft at Luqa. It was then purportedly transferred to a feeder flight at Frankfurt before reaching the doomed aircraft at Heathrow. Minutes later it exploded over Scotland, killing 270 people, 11 on the ground.

The book by Dr Kerr, deputy secretary of the Justice for Megrahi committee, deals specifically with the detail of the transfer baggage evidence.

It exposes deficiencies in both the police enquiry and the forensic investigation which led the hunt in entirely the wrong direction.

“Al-Megrahi was nowhere near the place at the time and could not possibly have had anything to do with it. The Lockerbie investigation was horrifically bungled thanks to stupidity, carelessness and tunnel vision,” the author says.

The police made a fatal error in 1989 and eliminated Heathrow on a false assumption.

“The biggest mystery of the entire saga is why the police persisted in their absolute conviction that the bomb had travelled on that flight from Malta. All luggage loaded on to the aircraft in question was accounted for and there were no unaccompanied bags,” Dr Kerr says.

Within weeks of the disaster, the investigation had very strong evidence indicating the bomb had actually been smuggled into a baggage container at Heathrow Airport.

In early January 1989, a Heathrow baggage handler said he had seen a brown Samsonite suitcase which had mysteriously appeared in the baggage container on his return from a tea break. This container held luggage that was to be loaded on to Pan Am 103 and that precise corner of the container was known by investigators to be where the explosion had happened.

Rather than pursuing this vital lead vigorously, the police more or less ignored it, the author insists.

By scrutinising baggage records, witness statements, police memos, forensic reports and original case photographs, Dr Kerr has pinpointed the precise location of the blast-damaged suitcases. The author said her detailed findings have been in the hands of the Scottish police for over a year now.

Jim Swire, whose daughter was killed at Lockerbie, said when contacted yesterday that Dr Kerr’s book was compatible with his own probe into the matter.

Despite the new evidence, Dr Swire said the US and British governments will remain determined to sell the theory that al-Megrahi planted the bomb in Malta.

“Sadly they are determined to obstruct the truth. But we have long been convinced that al-Megrahi was not the Lockerbie bomber,” Dr Swire told Times of Malta.

As the world marks the 25th anniversary of the Lockerbie tragedy, a number of new facts and theories are emerging. A documentary to be released by Al Jazeera on Sunday will look into who could have really been the Lockerbie bomber.

Speaking on Times Talk recently, Maltese Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella said he was sure al-Megrahi was innocent.

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