Sunday, June 01, 2008

Lockerbie bomb timers were widely available as secret documents finally leak

As if we didn't know it already, the content of the secret documents sought after by the defence team of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi seem to indicate the timers used in the bomb device aboard the Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 were more widely available than the prosecution contended at the time ....

Scots justice once more again in the dock then ?

Scotland on Sunday reports :

Truth revealed on Lockerbie bomb timer

By Marcello Mega

THE top-secret document at the heart of the Lockerbie bombing appeal confirms beyond doubt the bomb timer was supplied to countries other than Libya, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

The document also gives "considerable detail" on how the use of a small bomb concealed inside a radio-cassette recorder was consistent with Palestinian terrorists rather than Libyans, according to a prominent legal source who has seen the paper.

Important pillars of the Crown's case against Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Libyan serving life for the atrocity, are "knocked down" by the contents of the document, added the source.

Last week, during a three-day hearing in Edinburgh, Scotland's senior judge, Lord Hamilton, and two of his colleagues listened to legal arguments about whether Megrahi's defence should be allowed to see the document, which was passed to the UK by a foreign power.

The UK Government, represented by Advocate General Neil Davidson QC, is opposing the defence application. Lord Advocate Eilish Angiolini has indicated she would hand it to the defence team but for the public interest immunity status afforded to it by Westminster.

The existence of the document emerged during the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission's exhaustive three-year investigation into whether Megrahi may have suffered a miscarriage of justice when he was convicted of the murder of 270 people.

The information in the document was a key part of the Crown's case that the timer used in the bomb was supplied only to Libya. It also appears to confirm that the method of attack was typical of a Palestinian terror cell in Germany.

Scotland on Sunday's source confirmed: "The document dispels any doubts about the supply of MST-13s (timers] elsewhere."

He added: "There is considerable detail about the method used to conceal the bomb. The use of a small Semtex bomb concealed inside a Toshiba radio-cassette recorder was not linked to Libyan terror activity, but to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), the first suspects in the case."

The source conceded these matters had been "aired previously or pointed to by other evidence" but added: "(It] puts that evidence on another footing because it gives it 100% credibility because of where it comes from.

"I don't think, in itself, it either clears Megrahi or proves anyone else was responsible, but there is material that would undoubtedly be helpful to his defence and, in isolation, would lean away from the Crown's case and the verdict of the judges."

The source declined to reveal which country had provided the information. But, last night, another well-placed source said there were new and compelling indications that it may have been provided by Germany and contained information from an Iranian defector, Abolghasem Mesbahi.

The MST-13 timer used in the bomb was made by Swiss firm Mebo. Its co-owner, Edwin Bollier, has made it clear that the timers were supplied to others, including the Stasi, the former East German secret police

German intelligence would certainly be able to provide evidence of the Stasi's links to Mebo, and to the PFPL-GC's use of Semtex in Toshiba radio-cassette recorders.

In October 1988, two months before Lockerbie, the German secret police cracked a PFPL-GC cell operating in Neuss and recovered four such devices. The bomb-maker, Jordanian Marwan Khreesat, told German agents that a fifth device had been removed from the flat he was working in by the cell's leader, Hafez Dalkamoni, prior to their raid.

It was never recovered and many, including Khreesat himself, believe it was his device that brought down the flight over Lockerbie.

Mesbahi has provided the Germans with intelligence that has enabled them to clear up terror crimes, but he was discredited by the UK when he was put up as a potential witness at the trial of Megrahi and his co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, who was cleared.

In 1996, Mesbahi claimed the bombing had been ordered by his former masters in Tehran, not Tripoli, and it is believed that the document was handed over to the Foreign Office later that same year.

There is growing suspicion among Lockerbie experts that the document could even provide the UK with a way to get Megrahi out of jail without facing a re-trial and thorough examination of aspects of the case that would embarrass the Crown Office and Westminster.

It is possible Megrahi will be freed this year on the fairly straightforward grounds published by the SCCRC. The normal practice in such a landmark case would be to order a retrial, but that has the potential to discredit the UK and the US on the world stage.

However, if Megrahi's conviction were quashed and the appeal court ruled he could not have a fair re-trial without the hidden material going to his defence, he would be freed on those grounds and the matter would eventually draw to a quiet conclusion.

Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter, Flora, in the Lockerbie bombing, said he was concerned that the document might prove to be more important than its contents. He said: "If the document is not available to the defence at the appeal, then that appeal will be seen around the world, quite rightly, as unfair.

"The significance is likely to be not in the content, but on the impact it will have on the process, unless we can crack the impasse we're in."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lockerbie is a complete shambles the Lord Advocate should be in the dock for bringing a prosecution against this man.
Lets face it Fraser admits he knew the guy Gauci wasn't the full shilling so why then did he proceed to trial with him the star witness?
The same question can now be asked about the timers....... Did Crown know this before the trial started ? if so Holland & Sinclair demands he never got a fair hearing when Crown failed to reveal this to the defence team and this alone is enough for the conviction to be quashed