“The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.” (Samuel Adams, 1722-1803, letter 1775.)
This will surely have you falling down with surprise. According to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act and obtained by the (UK) Sunday Telegraph, the August 2009 release from Scotland’s Barlinnie jail of Libyan Abdelbaset al- Megrahi, accused of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988, hinged on an oil and arms deal, allegedly brokered by roving war monger (sorry, roving “Peace Ambassador”) Tony Blair.
At this point it should be said that anyone who has read John Ashton and Ian Ferguson’s meticulous “Cover up of Convenience”(i) on the Lockerbie tragedy could only regard Mr al-Meghrahi’s conviction as between very unsafe and very questionable.
The British Labour Party, which Blair headed for ten years, until 27th June 2007, have always insisted that the release had no connection with commercial deals. After leaving Downing Street, Blair visited Libya some six times.
On 8th June 2008, the then British Ambassador to Libya, Sir Vincent Fean, sent Tony Blair’s private office a thirteen hundred word briefing on the UK’s eagerness to do business with Libya, according to the Telegraph. (ii) Blair flew to Tripoli to meet Colonel Quaddafi, just two days later, June 10th. Qaddafi paid: Blair, always lavish with other’s money had requested, and was granted, the Colonel’s private jet for the journey.
Sir Vincent’s “key objective” was for: “Libya to invest its £80 billion sovereign wealth through the City of London”,according to the Telegraph, which also cites the Ambassador writing of the UK being : “privately critical of then President George Bush for ‘shooting the US in the foot’by continuing to put a block on Libyan assets in America, in the process scuppering business deals.” Britain however, was voraciously scrambling to fill the fiscal gap.
Unlike the US and UK who abandon or drone to death their own citizens who are in trouble, or even accused of it, Libya’s Administration had stood by their man and seemed to be prepared to do even unpalatable deals to free him and had long been pressuring the UK to release al-Megrahi.
In May 2007, a month before he left Downing Street, Blair had made his second visit to Libya, meeting Colonel Qaddafi and his Prime Minister Al Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi in then beautiful and now near ruined city of Sirte.
Surely coincidentally, on this trip, a deal was seemingly thrashed out, including prisoner transfer, just before British Petrolium (BP) announced their approximate £454 million investment to prospect for £13billion worth of oil in Libya.
Also, states the Telegraph report: “At that meeting, according to Sir Vincent’s email, Mr Blair and Mr Al Baghdadi agreed that Libya would buy a missile defence system from MBDA – a weapons manufacturer part-owned by Britains’s BAE Systems.”This seemed to (also) hinge on a Memorandum of Understanding for a Prisoner Transfer Agreement:“which the Libyans believed would pave the way for al-Megrahi’s release.” Various sources state that the arms deal was worth £400 million, and up to two thousand jobs in the UK. Sir Vincent referred to the arms deal as a “legacy issue.” Blair’s “legacy”, as ever, synonymous with destruction.
Ironically, it was Blair who credited himself with persuading Colonel Qaddafi to abandon and destroy his weapons programmes after his visit to the country in March 2004 (placing that Judas kiss the Colonel’s cheek)as a step to Libya returning to the fold of the duplicitous “international community.”With friends like Blair, enemies are a redundancy.
When Blair returned to Libya in June 2008, the Telegraph contends that the British Government, then under Gordon Brown, Blair’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer (who left the national coffers near empty) used the opportunity: “ to press the case for the arms deal to be sealed. At the time, Britain was on the brink of an economic and banking crisis- and Libya, though the Libyan Investment Authority – had billions of pounds in reserves.”
Saif al-Islam, Qaddafi’s son, expressed the concern over the arms deal being voiced from within the Libyan military, given their close ties to the “Russian defence equipment camp.”
An earlier discovery by the Sunday Telegraph shows, in letters and emails, that Blair held hitherto undisclosed talks with the Colonel in April 2009, four months before al-Megrahi’s release. (iii)
Again he was flown at the expense of the Colonel, in his private jet: “In both 2008 and 2009,documents show Mr Blair negotiated to fly to the Libyan capitol … in a jet provided by Qaddafi.” Blair’s Office denies the claims, saying they were transported in a Libyan government ‘plane.
By the time of the 2009 visit: “Libya was threatening to cut all business links if al-Megrahi stayed in a British jail.” Blair seemingly attempted to pour oil on troubled waters by bringing American billionaire, Tim Collins to that meeting to advise Qaddafi on building the beach resorts he was planning, on the Libyan coast.
Further adding to the murk, a spokesperson for Collins stated:”Tim was asked to go by Tony Blair in his position as a trustee of Mr Blair’s US faith foundation. Tim had no intention of doing any business with Qaddafi.”
However: “Sources in Libya said Qaddafi had discussed with Mr Collins opening beach resorts along the Libyan coast, but that Mr Collins had dismissed the idea because the Libyans would not sanction the sale of alcohol or gambling at the resorts.
Blair’s spokesperson said of the visit: ” … Tony Blair has never had any role, either formal or informal, paid or unpaid, with the Libyan Investment Authority or the Government of Libya and he has no commercial relationship with any Libyan company or entity.” A Blair first,seemingly, given the impression that he never touches down anywhere without emerging with a lucrative contract or a large cheque,
However, Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, is quoted as saying : “Mr Blair is clearly using his Downing Street contacts to further his business interests.”
In a further coincidence, the Prisoner Transfer agreement for Mr al-Megrahi was signed the day before Blair’s 2009 visit.
When al-Megrahi, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, was released in August 2009, the British media and politicians were outraged. Scotland had done a deal and was benefiting financially from Libya. The latest revelations prove Scotland did no financial deals. When Mr al-Megrahi failed to die, politicians and media were even more outraged. They were a shaming spectacle.
Mental mind set can be a huge force in prolonging life in even the most serious cancer patients. No doubt in al-Megrahi’s case, being back in a home and with a family he loved contributed to his extra time. He survived long enough to see his country destroyed by the devious forces the West embodies – and at which Blair excels. Megrahi died in September 2012.
Incidentally, Ambassador Feanreportedly “expressed relief” at al-Megrahi’s release: “He noted that a refusal of Megrahi’s request could have had disastrous implications for British interests in Libya. ‘They could have cut us off at the knees.”(iv)
Qaddafi, however, never signed the arms deal.
Footnote: The 2004 visit by Blair was arranged by Saif al Islam, who Blair seemingly knew well and had allegedly even offered suggestions on his PhD thesis when Saif was studying at the London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS.)
In September last year Saif al-Islam’s lady friend of six years, appealed, passionately, to Blair to intervene to save the life of his now captured, maimed and death penalty-facing friend: “The two are old friends – it is time that Mr Blair returned some loyalty. Mr Blair is a man of God – as a Christian he has a moral duty to help a friend in need”, she has commented. (v)
Seemingly there has been no response from Blair’s office. Further, an extensive search for a comment on the appalling death of Colonel Qaddafi – his former host and private ‘plane provider – and the demise of much of his family from this “Peace Envoy” and “man of God”, has come up with absolutely nothing.
To mangle a quote: Beware of British offering deals.
Exclusive: Even in death, Libyan Ali al-Megrahi is dubbed “the Lockerbie bomber,” a depiction that proved useful last year in rallying public support for “regime change” in Libya.But the New York Timesnow concedes, belatedly, that the case against him was riddled with errors and false testimony, as Robert Parry reports.
By Robert Parry
From the Now-They-Tell-Us Department comes the New York Times obit of Libyan agent Ali al-Megrahi, who was convicted by a special Scottish court for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. After Megrahi’s death from cancer was announced on Sunday, the Times finally acknowledged that his guilt was in serious doubt. (****NOW YOU TELL US AFTER THE LIBYAN PEOPLE SUFFERED NEARLY 13 YEARS OF EMBARGO PLUS MR. MEGRAHI WAS PUT IN JAIL SUFFERED CANCER AND DIED AND ALL OF THAT ONLY LATER TO DICIDE THAT HIS GUILT WAS IN SERIOUS DOUBT SHAME ON YOU! YOUR MEDIA! YOU PATHETIC LUNATICS! EVIL ASSHOLES THE ONLY THING YOU COULD NOT STAND WAS QADDAFI BECAUSE HE WAS RIGHT BY HIS PEOPLE AND YOU WANTED TO DESTROY HIM!!!)
Last year, when the Times and other major U.S. news outlets were manufacturing public consent for a new war against another Middle East “bad guy,” i.e. Muammar Gaddafi, Megrahi’s guilt was treated as flat fact. Indeed, citation of the Lockerbie bombing became the debate closer, effectively silencing anyone who raised questions about U.S. involvement in another war for “regime change.”
After all, who would “defend” the monsters involved in blowing Pan Am Flight 103 out of the sky over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 270 people, including 189 Americans? Again and again, the U.S.-backed military intervention to oust Gaddafi in 2011 was justified by Gaddafi’s presumed authorship of the Lockerbie terrorist attack. (****YES WHO WOULD “DEFEND”THE MONSTERS involved in blowing Pan Am Flight 103 out of the sky over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 270 people wich 189 where Americans yes but they DIDN’T TELL YOU THAT THE USA + UK TOGETHER BLEW UP THIS PLANE AS THERE WHERE PEOPLE ON THAT PLANE THAT THEY DIDNT WANT THEN ALIVE…. BUT WHO BETTER TO BLAME BUT THE NAUGHTY BOY QADDAFI LETS PUT HIM ASIDE LET’S MAKE HIM PAY BECAUSE HE DOES NOT OBEY US!!! SO WE WILL MAKE AN EMBARGO FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS LET HIS PEOPLE SUFFER THEY WILL HATE HIM IN THE END!! LET’S PUT THE MAN IN JAIL WHAT WE CARE HE IS A SCAPE GOAT! THEY WILL NEVER FIND OUT THE TRUTH! BUT THE TRUTH IS COMMING OUT BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!!!)
Only a few non-mainstream news outlets, like Consortiumnews.com, bothered to actually review the dubious evidence against Megrahi and raise questions about the judgment of the Scottish court that convicted Megrahi in 2001.
By contrast to those few skeptical articles, the New York Times stoked last year’s war fever by suppressing or ignoring those doubts. For instance, one March 2011 article out of Washington began by stating: “There once was no American institution more hostile to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s’s pariah government than the Central Intelligence Agency, which had lost its deputy Beirut station chief when Libyan intelligence operatives blew up Pan Am Flight 103 above Scotland in 1988.”
Note the lack of doubt or even attribution. A similar certainty prevailed in virtually all other mainstream news reports and commentaries, ranging from the right-wing media to the liberal MSNBC, whose foreign policy correspondent Andrea Mitchell would seal the deal by recalling that Libya had accepted “responsibility” for the bombing.
Gaddafi’s eventual defeat, capture and grisly murder brought no fresh doubts about the certainty of the guilt of Megrahi, who was simply called the “Lockerbie bomber.” Few eyebrows were raised even when British authorities released Libya’s former intelligence chief Moussa Koussa after asking him some Lockerbie questions.
Scotland Yard also apparently failed to notice the dog not barking when the new pro-Western Libyan government took power and released no confirmation that Gaddafi’s government indeed had sponsored the 1988 attack. After Gaddafi’s overthrow and death, the Lockerbie issue just disappeared from the news.
A Surprising Obit
So, readers of the New York Times’ obituary page might have been surprised Monday if they read deep into Megrahi’s obit and discovered this summary of the case:
“The enigmatic Mr. Megrahi had been the central figure of the case for decades, reviled as a terrorist but defended by many Libyans, and even some world leaders, as a victim of injustice whose trial, 12 years after the bombing, had been riddled with political overtones, memory gaps and flawed evidence.”
If you read even further, you would find this more detailed examination of the evidence:
“Investigators, while they had no direct proof, believed that the suitcase with the bomb had been fitted with routing tags for baggage handlers, put on a plane at Malta and flown to Frankfurt, where it was loaded onto a Boeing 727 feeder flight that connected to Flight 103 at London, then transferred to the doomed jetliner.
“After a three-year investigation, Mr. Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, the Libyan airline station manager in Malta, were indicted on mass murder charges in 1991. Libya refused to extradite them, and the United Nations imposed eight years of sanctions that cost Libya $30 billion. …
“Negotiations led by former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa produced a compromise in 1999: the suspects’ surrender, and a trial by Scottish judges in the Netherlands.
“The trial lasted 85 days. None of the witnesses connected the suspects directly to the bomb. But one, Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper who sold the clothing that forensic experts had linked to the bomb, identified Mr. Megrahi as the buyer, although Mr. Gauci seemed doubtful and had picked others in photo displays.
“The bomb’s timer was traced to a Zurich manufacturer, Mebo, whose owner, Edwin Bollier, testified that such devices had been sold to Libya. A fragment from the crash site was identified by a Mebo employee, Ulrich Lumpert.
“Neither defendant testified. But a turncoat Libyan agent testified that plastic explosives had been stored in Mr. Fhimah’s desk in Malta, that Mr. Megrahi had brought a brown suitcase, and that both men were at the Malta airport on the day the bomb was sent on its way.
“On Jan. 31, 2001, the three-judge court found Mr. Megrahi guilty but acquitted Mr. Fhimah. The court called the case circumstantial, the evidence incomplete and some witnesses unreliable, but concluded that ‘there is nothing in the evidence which leaves us with any reasonable doubt as to the guilt’ of Mr. Megrahi.
“Much of the evidence was later challenged.It emerged that Mr. Gauci had repeatedly failed to identify Mr. Megrahi before the trial and had selected him only after seeing his photograph in a magazine and being shown the same photo in court.The date of the clothing sale was also in doubt.
“Investigators said Mr. Bollier, whom even the court called ‘untruthful and unreliable,’ had changed his story repeatedly after taking money from Libya, and might have gone to Tripoli just before the attack to fit a timer and bomb into the cassette recorder. The implication that he was a conspirator was never pursued.
“In 2007, Mr. Lumpert admitted that he had lied at the trial, stolen a timer and given it to a Lockerbie investigator.Moreover, the fragment he identified was never tested for residue of explosives, although it was the only evidence of possible Libyan involvement.
“The court’s inference that the bomb had been transferred from the Frankfurt feeder flight was also cast into doubt when a Heathrow security guard revealed that Pan Am’s baggage area had been broken into 17 hours before the bombing, a circumstance never explored.
“Hans Köchler, a United Nations observer, called the trial ‘a spectacular miscarriage of justice,’ words echoed by Mr. Mandela. Many legal experts and investigative journalists challenged the evidence, calling Mr. Megrahi a scapegoat for a Libyan government long identified with terrorism.While denying involvement, Libya paid $2.7 billion to the victims’ families in 2003 in a bid to end years of diplomatic isolation.”
In other words, the case against Megrahi looks to have been an example of gross prosecutorial misconduct, relying on testimony from perjurers and failing to pursue promising leads (like the possibility that the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, not transferred from plane to plane to plane, an unlikely route for a terrorist attack and made even more dubious by the absence of any evidence of an unaccompanied bag being put on those flights).
Also, objective journalists should have noted that Libya’s much-touted acceptance of “responsibility” was simply an effort to get punishing sanctions lifted and that Libya always continued to assert its innocence.
All of the above facts were known in 2011 when the Times and the rest of the mainstream U.S. press corps presented a dramatically different version to the American people. Last year, all these questions and doubts were suppressed in the name of rallying support for “regime change” in Libya.
On March 18, 2011, I wrote: “As Americans turn to their news media to make sense of the upheavals in the Middle East, it’s worth remembering that the bias of the mainstream U.S. press corps is most powerful when covering a Washington-designated villain, especially if he happens to be Muslim.
“In that case, all uncertainty about some aspect of his villainy is discarded. Evidence in serious dispute is stated as flat fact. Readers are expected to share this unquestioned belief about the story’s frame – and that usually helps manufacture consent behind some desired government action or policy.
“At such moments, it’s also hard to contest the conventional wisdom. To do so will guarantee that you’ll be treated as some kook or pariah. It won’t even matter if you’re vindicated in the long run. You’ll still be remembered as some weirdo who was out of step.
“And those who push the misguided consensus will mostly go on to bigger and better things, as people who have proved their worth even if they got it all wrong. Such is the way the national U.S. political/media system now works – or some might say doesn’t work.
“Perhaps the most costly recent example of this pattern was the Official Certainty about Iraq’s WMD in 2002-03. With only a few exceptions, the major U.S. news media, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, bought into the Bush administration’s WMD propaganda, partly because Saddam Hussein was so unsavory that no one wanted to be dubbed a ‘Saddam apologist.’
“When Iraq’s WMD turned out to be a mirage, there was almost no accountability at senior levels of the U.S. news media. Washington Post’s editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, who repeatedly reported Iraq’s WMD as ‘flat fact,’ is still in the same job eight years later; Bill Keller, who penned an influential article called ’The I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-a-Hawk Club,’ got promoted to New York Times executive editor after the Iraq-WMD claims exploded leaving egg on the faces of him and his fellow club members.
“So, now as Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi reprises his old role as ‘mad dog of the Middle East,’ Americans are being prepped for another Middle East conflict by endlessly reading as flat fact that Libyan intelligence agents blew up Pan Am Flight 103 back in 1988.
“These articles never mention that there is strong doubt the Libyans had anything to do with the attack and that the 2001 conviction of Libyan agent Ali al-Megrahi was falling apart in 2009 before he was released on humanitarian grounds, suffering from prostate cancer.
“Though it’s true that a Scottish court did convict Megrahi – while acquitting a second Libyan – the judgment appears to have been more a political compromise than an act of justice. One of the judges told Dartmouth government professor Dirk Vandewalle about ‘enormous pressure put on the court to get a conviction.’
“After the testimony of a key witness was discredited,the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed in 2007 to reconsider Megrahi’s conviction out of a strong concern that it was a miscarriage of justice. However, again due to intense political pressure, that review was proceeding slowly in 2009 when Scottish authorities agreed to release Megrahi on medical grounds.
“Megrahi dropped his appeal in order to gain an early release in the face of a terminal cancer diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean he was guilty.He has continued to assert his innocence and an objective press corps would reflect the doubts regarding his conviction.”
But today, the United States has anything but an objective press corps. That should be obvious when you contrast the U.S. media’s certitude about Megrahi’s guilt last year – when outrage over the Lockerbie bombing was crucial in lining up public acquiescence to another Middle East war – against the nuanced doubts noted in Megrahi’s New York Times obit on Monday.
The Sunday Herald and its sister paper, The Herald, are the only newspapers in the world to have seen the report. We choose to publish it because we have the permission of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the bombing, and because we believe it is in the public interest to disseminate the whole document.
The Sunday Herald has chosen to publish the full report online today to allow the public to see for themselves the analysis of the evidence which could have resulted in the acquittal of Megrahi. Under Section 32 of the Data Protection Act, journalists can publish in the public interest. We have made very few redactions to protect the names of confidential sources and private information.
The publication of the report adds weight to calls for a full public inquiry into the atrocity – something for which many of the relatives have been campaigning for more than two decades.
Megrahi has also sent a copy of the full report to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who released him on compassionate grounds in August 2009.
Jonathan Mitchell QC told the Sunday Herald: “From a data-protection point of view, it is questionable whether this report is the ‘personal data’ of anyone other than Megrahi.”
The Data Protection Act was described as “one of the most poorly drafted pieces of legislation on the statute book” by Tom Hickman, a barrister at Blackstone Chambers, on a UK Constitutional Law Group website.
Mitchell believes the Sunday Herald is not constrained from publishing the report. He said: ‘‘Section 32 of the Data Protection Act has the effect – putting it shortly – that processing (which includes publication) of personal data, even sensitive personal data, is exempt from the relevant data-protection principles if it is for the purpose of journalism and the newspaper reasonably believes that, having regard in particular to the special importance of the public interest in freedom of expression, ‘publication would be in the public interest’, and also reasonably believes that compliance with data-protection principles such as non-disclosure would be incompatible with the journalistic function.”
The Herald revealed earlier this month that, according to the report, the Crown failed to disclose seven key items of evidence that led to the Lockerbie casebeing referred back for a fresh appeal.
The SCCRC rejected many of the defence submissions but upheld six grounds which could have constituted a miscarriage of justice.
The commission made clear that, had such information been shared with the defence, the result of the trial could have been different.
Its full report details why the conviction of Megrahi was referred for a second appeal.
Megrahi has said in his official biography by John Ashton, Megrahi: You Are My Jury, that he believed dropping the second appeal would improve his chances of returning to Tripoli before succumbing to terminal prostate cancer.
The Scottish Government has said it wants to release the document in the interests of transparency but cannot do so because it is covered by data-protection law, reserved to Westminster.
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “It is important that everyone is able to read the SCCRC report in its entirely, rather than the selective and partial accounts of its contents which have made their way into the poubic domain through various media reports.”
When the SCCRC referred the case back for a fresh appeal in June 2007, they were only able to publish a summary of their findings. If they had published the full report, it would have constituted a criminal offence under the legislation which established the commission.
But on Friday the Crown Office in Scotland wrote to the SCCRC making it clear it would not prosecute the organisation or any of its members if it published the report.
The Crown office lifted legal restrictions just hours after the Sunday Herald had informed its press office we planned to publish the report ourselves.
In a press release issued on Friday the Crown Office criticised ‘‘selective and misleading reporting’’ of the SCCRC report in the media. ‘Notes to Editors’ attached to the press release said that any decision of the SCCRC to refer a conviction to the Appeal Court did not necessarily mean there had been a miscarriage of justice. Only the Appeal Court could declare there had been a miscarriage of justice and quash a conviction.
It added that the SCCRC was asked to look at more than 40 possible grounds for a referral to the Appeal Court in the Megrahi case. It had rejected the vast majority of these and referred the case to the Appeal Court on six grounds. And it stated the Crown ‘‘had every confidence in successfully defending the conviction in the Appeal Court for a second time.’’ A Crown ofice source was quoted in newspapers yesterday describing Megrahi’s grounds for appeal as having ‘‘more holes than a Swiss cheese’’.
The SCCRC has not so far published the report and is not expected to discuss the Crown Office advice until later this week. It declined to comment at this stage on the Sunday Herald’s decision to publish the report.
In an effort to get the report published, the Scottish Government has passed a statutory instrument – to slightly amend that legislation – which means it will no longer be a criminal act for the SCCRC to publish such reports. This was expected to come into force in May. The commission has written to the individuals mentioned in the report asking for their consent for publication. Consent was not given.
Megrahi said he would be happy to consent providing all other parties consented, but they did not. MacAskill has unsuccessfully written to UK Justice Secretary Ken Clarke several times to ask for an exemption under the Data Protection Act.
Megrahi was convicted of murder by Scottish judges sitting at Camp Zeist in 2001. He unsuccessfully appealed in January 2001. He dropped a second appeal shortly before the decision to release him on compassionate grounds in August 2009. He was expected to die from cancer within three months.
Showed a new book that the evidence and information that might have been exculpatory Abdel Basset al-Megrahi convicted only of the bombing of a U.S. airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie 1988, did not give the defense team,as stated in the newspaper The Independent on Sunday.
She said the British newspaper The background information on the parts of the circuit board used in the bombing which claimed the victim, 270 and police arrived in the period preceding the trial of Megrahi in 2000, but has not been disclosed.
Came of this information in a book written by journalist John Ashton, who says that the important parts of the plate circuit found at the crash site and recognized by the prosecution as part of a timer bomb, can not be among the devices that were sold to Libya by manufacturers.
The paper points out that those parts are considered a vital link in the argument to claim that the bomb was placed on the plane by al-Megrahi.
He said experts have followed the case closely, if that information is correct, it will be blown up the Lockerbie case.
The prosecution had agreed that the parts came from a timing device company Meebo Swiss admitted that she sold two tenths of a device of this type to the Libyans, but new evidence suggests that the parts that were found in the Lockerbie is not one of them.
Ashton says in his book The Time parts that were found were covered with tin,while those that were sold to Libya were covered with tin and alloys Alrsa.
They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear
The Lockerbie Affair has taken yet another extraordinary twist. On Friday August 31st, I received from Edwin Bollier, head of the Zurich-based MeBo AG, a copy of a German original of an Affidavit.
The document is dated July 18th 2007 and signed by Ulrich Lumpert who worked as an electronic engineer at MeBo from 1978 to 1994. I have scrutinized the document carefully and concluded that I have no reason to doubt its authenticity or the truthfulness of its content.
Lumpert was a key witness (N° 550) at the Camp Zeist trial, where a three Judges panel convicted a Libyan citizen of murdering 270 persons who died in the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.
In his testimony, Lumpert stated that:
“of the 3 pieces of hand-made prototypes MST-13 Timer PC-Boards, the third MST-13 PC-Board was broken and [he] had thrown it away.”
In his Affidavit, certified by Officer Walter Wieland, Lumpert admits having committed perjury.
“I confirm today on July 18th 2007, that I stole the third hand-manufactured MST-13 Timer PC-Board consisting of 8 layers of fibre-glass from MEBO Ltd. and gave it without permission on June 22nd 1989 to a person officially investigating in the Lockerbie case,”
Lumpert wrote. (The identity of the official is known.)
“It did not escape me that the MST-13 fragment shown [at the Lockerbie trial] on the police photograph No PT/35(b) came from the non-operational MST-13 prototype PC-board that I had stolen,” Lumpert added.
“I am sorry for the consequences of my silence at that time, for the innocent Libyan Mr. Abdelbaset Al Megrahi sentenced to life imprisonment, and for the country of Libya.“
In just seven paragraphs, the Lumpert affidavit elucidates the longstanding mysteries surrounding the infamous MST-13 timer, which allegedly triggered the bomb that exploded Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie on December 21st 1988.
The discovery of the MST-13 timer fragment
In the months following the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, someone discovered a piece of a grey Slalom-brand shirt in a wooded area located about 25 miles away from the town. According to a forensics expert, the cloth contained a tiny fragment – 4 mm square – of a circuit board. The testimony of three expert witnesses allowed the prosecutors to link this circuit board, described as part of the bomb trigger, to Megrahi.
There have been different accounts concerning the discovery of the timer fragment. A police source close to the investigation reported that it had been discovered by lovers. Some have said that it was picked up by a man walking his dog. Others have claimed that it was found by a policeman “combing the ground on his hands and knees.”
At the trial, the third explanation became official. “On 13 January 1989, DC Gilchrist and DC McColm were engaged together in line searches in an area near Newcastleton. A piece of charred material was found by them which was given the police number PI/995 and which subsequently became label 168.”
The alteration of the label
The officer had initially labelled the bag ‘cloth (charred)‘ but had later overwritten the word ‘cloth’ with ‘debris’.
The bag contained pieces of a shirt collar and fragments of materials said to have been extracted from it, including the tiny piece of circuit board identified as coming from an MST-13 timer made by the Swiss firm MeBo.
“The original inscription on the label, which we are satisfied, was written by DC Gilchrist, was “Cloth (charred)”. The word ‘cloth’ has been overwritten by the word ‘debris’. There was no satisfactory explanation as to why this was done.”
The judges said in their judgement that Gilchrist’s evidence had been “at worst evasive and at best confusing”.
Yet the judges went on to admit the evidence. “We are, however, satisfied that this item was indeed found in the area described, and DC McColm who corroborated DC Gilchrist on the finding of the item was not cross-examined about the detail of the finding of this item.”
It has long been rumored that a senior former Scottish officer, who has worked at the highest level of the Lockerbie inquiry, has signed a statement in which he claims that evidence has been planted.
UK media have confirmed the story. Thus, the Scottish officer has confirmed an allegation previously made by a former CIA agent. The identity of the officer remains secret and he is only known as “Golfer”.
“Golfer” has told Megrahi’s legal team that Gilchrist had told him that he had not been responsible for changing the label.
The new page 51
According to documents obtained by the Scotland on Sunday, the entry of the discovery is recorded at widely different times by UK and German investigators. Moreover, a new page 51 has been inserted in the record of evidence.
During the Lockerbie investigation, Dr Thomas Hayes and Allan Feraday were working at the DERA Forensic laboratory at Fort Halstead in Kent.
Dr Hayes was employed at the Royal Armament Research Development Establishment (RARDE). In 1995, RARDE was subsumed into the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA). In 2001, part of DERA became the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
Dr Hayes testified that he collected the tiny fragment of the circuit board on May 12th 1989. He testified that the fragment was green. (Keep in mind that the board stolen from Lumpert is brown.) His colleague, Alan Feraday, confirmed his story at the Zeist trial.
The record is inserted on a loose-leaf page with the five subsequent pages re-numbered by hand.Dr Hayescould not provide a reasonable explanation for this rather strange entry, and yet the Judges concluded that: “Pagination was of no materiality, because each item that was examined had the date of examination incorporated into the notes.”
The argument of the Court is illogical as the index number Dr Hayes gave to the piece is higher than some entry he made three months later.
And there is more. In September 1989,Feraday sent a Polaroid photograph of the pieceand wrote in the attached memorandum that it was “the best he could do in such short time.” So, are we supposed to believe that it takes forensic experts several months to take a Polaroid picture?
Dr Hayes could not explain this. He merely suggested that the person to ask about it would be the author of the memorandum, Mr Feraday.
This however was not done. At the young age of 43, Hayes resigned just a few months after the discovery of the timer fragment.
Based on the forensicDr Hayes had supplied, an entire family [The Maguire seven] was sent to jail in 1976. They were acquitted in appeal in 1992. Sir john May was appointed to review Dr. Hayes forensic evidence.
“The whole scientific basis on which the prosecution in [the trial of the alleged IRA Maguire Seven] was founded was in truth so vitiated that on this basis alone, the Court of Appeal should be invited to set aside the conviction,” said Sir john May.
In the Megrahi’s case, Dr Hayes did not even perform the basic test which would have established the presence of explosive residue on the sample. During the trial, he maintained that the fragment was too small while it is factually established that his laboratory has performed such test on smaller samples.
Had he performed such test, no residue would have been found.
As noted by Lumpert, the fragment shown at the Zeist trial belongs to a timer that was never connected to a relay.
In other words, that timer never triggered a bomb.
Dr Alan Feraday’sreputation is hardly better. In three separated cases,where men were convicted on the basis of his forensic evidence, the initial ruling was overturned in appeal.
After one of these cases in 2005, a Lord of Justice said that Feraday should not be allowed to present himself as an expert in the field of electronics.
According to forensic scientist, Dr Michael Scott, who was interviewed in the documentary The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie, Feraday has no formal qualifications as a scientist.
The identification of the MeBo timer
Thomas Thurman worked for the FBI forensics laboratory in the late 80’s and most of the 90’s. Thurman has been publicly credited for identifying the fragment as part of a MST_13 timer produced by the Swiss company Mebo.
“When that identification was made, of the timer, I knew that we had it,” Thurman told ABC in 1991. “Absolute, positively euphoria. I was on cloud nine.”
Again, his record is far from pristine. The US attorney General has accused him of having altered lab reports in a way that rendered subsequent prosecutions all but impossible. He has been transferred out the FBI forensic laboratory.
“He’s very aggressive, but I think he made some mistakes that needed to be brought to the attention of FBI management,” says Frederic Whitehurst, a former FBI chemist who filed the complaints that led to the Inspector General’s report.
“We’re not necessarily going to get the truth out of what we’re doing here,” Whitehurst concluded.
The story shed some light on his formation. The report says “Williams and Thurman merit special censure for their work. It recommends that Thurman, who has a degree in political science, be reassigned outside the lab and that only scientists work in its explosives section.”
And the legal experts were just as fake as their scientific counterparts. In late 1998, Glasgow University set up the Lockerbie Trial Briefing Unit [LTBU] to provide impartial advice to the world media on the legal aspects of the complex and unique trial.
Andrew Fulton, a British diplomat, was appointed as a visiting law professor to head the Unit. Fulton has no legal experience whatsoever. Prior to his appointment as head of LTBU, Fulton was MI6 station chief in Washington DC.
The modification of the MST-13 timer fragment
Forensic analysis of the circuit board fragment allowed the investigators to identify its origin. The timer, known as MST-13, is fabricated by a Swiss Company named MeBo, which stands for Meister and Bollier.
The company has indeed sold about 20 MST-13 timers to Libyan military (machine-made 9 ply green boards), as well as a few units (hand-made 8 ply brown boards) to a Research Institute in Bernau, known to act as a front to the Stasi, the former East German secret police.
The two batches are very different but, as early as 1991, Bollier told the Scottish investigators that he could not identify the timer from a photograph alone.
Yet, the Libyans were indicted in November 1991,without ever allowing Bollier to see the actual fragment, on the ground that the integrity of the evidence had to be protected.
But in 1998, Bollier obtained a copy of a blown-up photograph that Thurman had shown on ABC in 1991.
Bollier could tell from certain characteristics that the fragment was part of a board of the timers made for East Germany,
and definitely not one of the timers delivered by him to Libya.
In September 1999, Bollier was finally allowed to see the fragment.
Unlike the one shown by Thurman on ABC,
this one was machine-made, as the one sold to Libya. But, from the absence of traces of solder,
it was obvious that the timer had never been used to trigger a bomb.
“As far as I’m concerned, and I told this to [Scottish Prosecutor Miriam Watson], this is a manufactured fragment,” Bollier says.
“A fabricated fragment, never from a complete, functional timer“
The next day, Bollier was shown the fragment once more. You may have already guessed that it now had the soldering traces. “It was different. I’m not crazy. It was different!” says Bollier.
Finally, at the trial, Bollier was presented a fragment of a circuit board completely burnt down. Thus, it was no longer possible to identify to which country that timer had been delivered.
As he requested to explain the significance of the issue, Lord Shuterland told him that his request was denied.
How did the Judges account for all the mysterious changes in the appearance of the fragment? They simply dismissed Bollier as an unreliable witness.
“We have assessed carefully the evidence of these three witnesses about the activities of MEBO, and in particular their evidence relating to the MST-13 timers which the company made. All three, and notably Mr Bollier, were shown to be unreliable witnesses. Earlier statements which they made to the police and judicial authorities were at times in conflict with each other, and with the evidence they gave in court. On some occasions, particularly in the case of Mr Bollier, their evidence was self contradictory.” (§ 45)
A scenario implausible on its face
“The evidence which we have considered up to this stage satisfies us beyond reasonable doubt that the cause of the disaster was the explosion of an improvised explosive device, […] and that the initiation of the explosion was triggered by the use of an MST-13 timer,” wrote the three Judges. (§ 15)
Lockerbie experts, such former CIA Robert Baer, have suspected that the MST-13 timer could have been given by the Stasi to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command [PFLP-GL], a terrorist group based in Syria, funded by Iran, and led by Ahmed Jibril.
The allegation deserves attention as it is well known that the two organizations had strong ties.
Moreover, the archives of the Stasi reveal that agency had infiltrated the Swedish government and it is well documented that Jibril’s close collaborators were operating from Sweden. Yet, I never believed for a moment that the Lockerbie bomb had been triggered by a timer.
No terrorist would ever attempt to bomb an airliner with a timer triggered bomb,
and definitely not during the winter season, let alone Christmas time, where the time tables are absolutely useless as delays are the norm rather than the exception.
Don’t take my word for it. Terrorists such Ahmed Jibril and counter-terrorists such Noel Koch have stated that much.
“Explosives linked to an air pressure gauge, which would have detonated when the plane reached a certain altitude or to a timer would have been ineffective,”Jibril said.
“I know all about the science of explosives. I am an engineer of explosives. I will argue this with any expert that the bomb went on board in London. I do not think the Libyans had anything to do with this.”
Noel Koch headed the US Defence anti-terrorism Department from 1981 to 1986.
Koch ridiculed the idea that terrorist would gamble on the likelihood that an unaccompanied luggagewould be successfully transferred twice, first from Malta to Frankfurt, and then from Frankfurt to London.
“I can tell you this much that I know about terrorism: it’s simple,” Koch says.
“You don’t complicate life. Life’s complicated enough as it is.
If you’ve got a target you want to get as close as you can to it and you don’t go through a series of permutations that provide opportunities for failure and that provide opportunities for discovery. It doesn’t work that way.“
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
On November 13th 1991, two Libyans were indicted for the murder of 270 people who died in the Lockerbie bombing. The indictment was the outcome of a three year US-UK joint investigation.
Although Libya never acknowledged a responsibility in the matter,
a decade long UN sanctions forced Colonel Gaddafi to handover the two men accused of the worst act of terrorism in the UK. On April 5th 1999, they were transferred to camp Zeist in the Netherlands where they were judged under Scottish Law.
On January 31st 2001, a panel of three Scottish Judges acquitted one of them. They convicted the other for murder and sentenced him to life. Megrahi is serving his sentence in a prison near Glasgow.
Megrahi’s appeal was rejected on March 14th 2002. The European Court Of Human Rights declared his application inadmissible in July 2003.
In September 2003, he applied to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission [SCCRC] for a legal review of his conviction. His request was based on the legal test contained in section 106 (3) (b) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.
The provision states that an appeal may be made against
“any alleged miscarriage of justice, which may include such a miscarriage based on … the jury’s having returned a verdict which no reasonable jury, properly directed, could have returned.”
On June 28th 2007, the SCCRC has decided to grant Megrahi a second appeal and to refer his case to the High Court. An impressive 800 pages long document, stating the reasons for the decision, has been sent to the High Court, the applicant, his solicitor, and Crown Office. Although the document is not available to the public, the Commission has decided “to provide a fuller news release than normal.”
Is it too much to ask why the “fuller news release than normal” lists only four of the six grounds that justify the Commission conclusion that a miscarriage of justice might have occur?
As recently pointed out by Dr. Hans Koechler, who was an international observer appointed by the United Nations at the Lockerbie trial,
we may also wonder “why a supposedly independent judicial review body [the SCCRC] would try to exonerate “preventively” officials in a case which is being returned to the High Court for a second appeal because of suspicions of a miscarriage of justice.“
Indeed, the SCCRC’s statement: “The Commission undertook extensive inquiries in this area but found nothing to support that allegation or to undermine the trial court’s conclusions in respect of the fragment [of the MST-13 MeBo timer]” is rather difficult to justify.
Towards a criminal investigation ?
Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter in the tragedy,
describes the ruling of Megrahi as the most disgraceful miscarriages of justice in history, blaming both the Scottish legal system and US intelligence.
“The Americans played their role in the investigation and influenced the prosecution,” Swire told the Scotsman Newspaper.
Top level UK diplomats tend to agree with him, such Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya.
“No court is likely get to the truth, now that various intelligence agencies have had the opportunity to corrupt the evidence,” Miles told the BBC.
The spectacular decision of the SCCRC is certain to give a second life to the dozen of alternative theories of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Nearly two decades later, the case is back to square one.
Back to square one
Let us give Lord Sutherland, Lord Coulsfield and Lord Maclean some credit. After hearing 230 witnesses and studying 621 exhibits during 84 days of evidence, spread over eight months, the three judges of the Lockerbie trial almost got correctly the date of the worst act of terror in the UK.
In the first line of the first paragraph of the most expensive verdict in history (₤80m)
Michael Scharf is an international law expert at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. Scharf joined the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser for Law Enforcement and Intelligence in April 1989.
He was also responsible for drawing up the UN Security Council resolutions that imposed sanctions on Libya in 1992.
“It was a trial where everybody agreed ahead of time that they were just going to focus on these two guys, and they were the fall guys,” Sharf wrote.
“The CIA and the FBI kept the State Department in the dark.
It worked for them for us to be fully committed to the theory that Libya was responsible.
I helped the counter-terrorism bureau draft documents that described why we thought Libya was responsible,
but these were not based on seeing a lot of evidence, but rather on representations from the CIA and FBI and the Department of Justice about what the case would prove and did prove.”
“It was largely based on this inside guy [Libyan defector Abdul Majid Giaka].
It wasn’t until the trial that I learned this guy was a nut-job and that the CIA had absolutely no confidence in him and that they knew he was a liar.”
The magic luggage
According to the Lockerbie verdict, the bomb was hidden in a Toshiba Radio, wrapped in clothes, located in a luggage that was mysteriously boarded in Malta.
The Court has examined this allegation in depth and the matter occupies 24 paragraphs of the final verdict (§ 16 to § 34). After reviewing all the evidence and testimonies, the three judges came to the following conclusions.
“Luqa airport had a relatively elaborate security system. All items of baggage checked in were entered into the airport computer as well as being noted on the passenger’s ticket. After the baggage had passed the sniffer check, it was placed on a trolley in the baggage area to wait until the flight was ready for loading.
“When the flight was ready, the baggage was taken out and loaded, and the head loader was required to count the items placed on board. The ramp dispatcher, the airport official on the tarmac responsible for the departure of the flight, was in touch by radiotelephone with the load control office. The load control had access to the computer and after the flight was closed would notify the ramp dispatcher of the number of items checked in. The ramp dispatcher would also be told by the head loader how many items had been loaded and if there was a discrepancy would take steps to resolve it.
“In addition to the baggage reconciliation procedure, there was a triple count of the number of passengers boarding a departing flight, that is there was a count of the boarding cards, a count by immigration officers of the number of immigration cards handed in, and a head count by the crew.
“The records relating to KM180 on 21 December 1988 show no discrepancy in respect of baggage. The flight log (production 930) shows that fifty-five items of baggage were loaded, corresponding to fifty-five on the load plan.
“On the face of them, these arrangements seem to make it extremely difficult for an unaccompanied and unidentified bag to be shipped on a flight out of Luqa.
“If therefore the unaccompanied bag was launched from Luqa, the method by which that was done is not established, and the Crown accepted that they could not point to any specific route by which the primary suitcase could have been loaded.
“The absence of any explanation of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 is a major difficulty for the Crown case.
A internal 1989 FBI memo indicates that there is no indication that an unaccompanied luggage was transferred from Air Malta to Pan Am.
Law authorities from Malta and Germany came to the same conclusion.
And yet, without any explanation, the judges wrote in the conclusion of the verdict that: “the absence of an explanation as to how the suitcase was taken into the system at Luqa is a major difficulty for the Crown case but after taking full account of that difficulty, we remain of the view that the primary suitcase began its journey at Luqa.” (§ 82)
The Maltese storekeeper
According to the verdict, Megrahi bought the clothes, in which the bomb was wrapped, in Sliema, a small town of Malta, including the “cloth” in which the fragment was “discovered” by Dr Hayes. At first sight, the “cloth” appears to be part of a slalom shirt, indeed sold in a little shop, Mary’s House, located on the island of the Mediterranean Sea.
However, upon closer examination, the “cloth” raises a series of issues. Firstly, the colour of the label is incorrect. A blue slalom shirt label should have blue writing, not brown.
Secondly, the breast pocket size corresponds to a child shirt, not a 16 ½ sized allegedly bought by Megrahi, for the pocket would have been 2 cm wider.
Thirdly, German records show the shirt with most of the breast pocket intact while the evidence shown at Zeist has a deep triangular tear extending inside the pocket.
Fourthly, last but certainly not least, the storekeeper initially told the investigators he never sold such shirts to whoever visited him a few weeks before the Lockerbie tragedy.
Tony Gauci’s (the storekeeper) testimony was pivotal in the case against Megrahi.
Gauci gave a series of 19 statements to the police which are fully inconsistent. Yet, the Judges found him trustworthy. Allow me to disagree.
On January 30th 1990, Gauci stated: “That time when the man came, I am sure I did not sell him a shirt.” Then, on September 10th 1990, he told the investigators that: “I now remember that the man who bought the clothing also bought a ‘Slalom’ shirt.” And to make things worse, two of his testimonies have disappeared.
When were the clothes bought?
According to the verdict, Megrahi bought the clothes on December 7th 1989. Gauci remembered that his brother had gone home earlier to watch an evening football game (Rome vs. Dresden), that the man came just before closing time (7pm), that it was raining (the man bought an umbrella) and that the Christmas lights were on.
The game allows for only two dates: November 23 or December 7. The issue is critical for there is no indication that Megrahi was in Malta on November 23rd but is known to have been on the island on December 7th.
Malta airport chief meteorologisttestified that it was raining on November 23rd but not on December 7th. Yet the judges determined the date as December 7th. This rather absurd conclusion from the judges raises two other issues.
The game Rome-Dresden on December 7th was played at 1:00 pm, not in the evening. What is more, Gauci had previously testified that the Christmas lights were not up, meaning that the date had to be November 7th.
On September 19th 1989, Gauci stated that “the [Christmas] decorations were not up when the man bought the clothing.” Then, at the Lockerbie trial, Gauci told the Judges that the decoration lights were on. “Yes, they were … up.”
Who was the mysterious buyer?
“We are nevertheless satisfied that his identification, so far as it went, of the first accused as the purchaser was reliable and should be treated as a highly important element in this case,” wrote the judges.
In fact, Gauci never identified Megrahi. He merely stated that Megrahi resembles the man to whom he had sold the clothes, but only if he were much older and two inches taller. Gauci had however identified another man: Abu Talb.
And in case you wonder, Talb was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command [PFLP-GL], the terrorist group led by Ahmed Jibril.
In late October 1988, the senior bomb maker of the PFLP-GC, Marwan Khreesat, was arrested in Frankfurt in company of Hafez Dalkamoni, the leader of the organization German cell.
Dalkamoni had met Talb in Cyprus and Malta the weeks before.
In their car, police found a bomb hidden in a Toshiba radio.
Khreesat told the police that he had manufactured five similar IED’s.
Each device Khreesat had built was triggered by a gauge pressure that activates a timer – range from 0 to 45 minutes – when the plane reaches a cruising altitude of 11,000 meters.
The timers of all recovered bombs were set on 30 minutes.
It takes about 7 minutes for a 747 to reach cruising altitude.
Pan Am 103 exploded 38 minutes after take-off from London.
German police eventually recovered four of the IED’s Khreesat had built.
No one seems to know what ever occurred to the fifth one which was never recovered.
When police raided Talb apartment in Sweden, they found his appointment notebook. Talb had circled one date: December 21st.
Contrary to Jibril’s statement, and surely he must know better, a bomb triggered by a gauge pressure set at 11,000 meters would not have detonated during the Frankfurt to London flight as the airliner does not reach cruising altitude on such short flight.
Then again, such device would not have detonated at all if it had been located in the luggage area as the hold is at the pressure of the passengers’ zone and never drops below the pressure equivalent to 2,400 meters.
This is why, when the judges were presented with the undisputable and undisputed evidence that a proper simulation of the explosion – taking proper account of the Mach stem effect –
would locate the explosion outside the luggage hold, they simply decided to dismiss the existence of a scientifically well established fact.
“We do not consider it necessary to go into any detail about Mach stem formation,” the judges wrote.
Had the judges deemed“necessary to go into the details regarding Mach stem formation”,
they would have been forced to acknowledge that the position of the bomb was fully incompatible with the indictment. That a magic unaccompanied luggage went mysteriously three times through airport security was “plausible”.
That it jumped on its ownout of the luggage hold at London airport was a little too much to believe.
In truth, a proper simulation of the explosion locates the bomb just a few inches away from the skin of the plane, a position fully consistent with the very specific damages left by the explosion.
The truth was inconvenient.
The three judges had to dismiss it in order to justify a verdict that had been decided more than a decade before the first day of the Zeist trial.
Shame on those who committed this horrific act of terror.
Shame on those who have ordered the cover-up.
Shame on those who provided false testimony,
and those who suppressed and fabricated the evidence needed to frame Libya.
And shame on the media for their accomplice silence.
And to those who seek the truth,
I advise them to follow the drug trail on the road to Damascus.
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