Old News from August 13 , 2001 until January 21, 2002

Lockerbie appeal hit by battle over unpaid bills

21/01/2002 THE SCOTSMAN (UK) THE APPEAL of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi has been plagued by bitter in-fighting because members of his defence team have not been paid for their services. The Scotsman has learned that Megrahi’s Libyan backers owe tens of thousands of pounds to the lawyers and spin doctors hired to bolster his case. Two members of the defence team have already resigned from the organising committee and one has even served a writ on Megrahi’s UK representative, claiming £30,000 in unpaid fees. Megrahi was found guilty a year ago of mass murder for bombing New York-bound Pan Am flight 103 out of the sky in December 1988, killing all 259 passengers and crew and 11 people in Lockerbie. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that he serve at least 20 years. His co-accused, Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was cleared. Megrahi’s appeal is due to start on Wednesday.

Professor Alan Dershowitz, a leading American civil rights lawyer and one of the main legal brains behind the appeal, has admitted technical specialists and lawyers gathering vital evidence for the case have yet to be paid by the Libyans. He said: "I’ve been a consultant to the law firm and (I know) some people have not been paid. Some of the experts have not been paid as well. Some of the people that have been retained to do some of the scientific research on the case have not been paid." Professor Dershowitz’s comments came after David Wynn Morgan and Patrick Robertson, the London-based PR experts brought in to publicise the appeal, resigned from their posts over financial disputes. Mr Robertson has served a writ on Stephen Mitchell, the representative for Needleman Treon, Megrahi’s London-based solicitors, for almost £30,000.

Last night, Mr Robertson, who has represented former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet, confirmed he had served a writ on Mr Mitchell. He said: "I was forced to resign from the committee because I was not paid the agreed sum in my contract to assist the team. I was brought in to inform the media on the case, set up a website on the appeal and organise a seminar for the committee and I had agreed a sum to carry out these functions. "Unfortunately I have been forced to issue a writ to retrieve the money owed to me, that is now public knowledge and it is a position I would rather not be in." It has also emerged that Mr Wynn Morgan resigned from the appeal committee by sending an e-mail to his colleagues, stating he was no longer in a position to carry out his duties. The disagreement is said to have come to a head after a five-figure cheque paid to Mr Wynn Morgan’s PR firm was allegedly stopped by representatives acting for the Libyans. A source close to Mr Wynn Morgan said: "David did resign from the appeal committee and it is fair to suggest there was a financial disagreement but we are in a tricky position at the moment.

"All we can say is this ‘disagreement’ has since been resolved and we hope to contribute more to the team in the future, but it was the basis for our withdrawal from the appeal team." An appeal team insider suggested the timing for the dispute could not be worse and the growing financial cloud hanging over the committee could undermine the Libyan’s case. He said: "There is a growing unease in the team and many of the lawyers and specialists who have contributed to the appeal feel they have been used by the Libyans." Megrahi’s appeal is being financed and co-ordinated by a consortium of Libyan lawyers headed by Tripoli-based academic Dr Ibrahim Legwell. In a bid to bolster the appeal case, the Libyan lawyers raised funds to recruit the services of some of the world’s leading legal minds and PR men. The appeal is to be heard by Scotland’s highest-ranking judge, Lord Cullen, the Lord Justice-General, sitting with Lords Kirkwood, Osborne, Macfadyen and Nimmo Smith.

Professor Robert Black, QC, of Edinburgh University, who helped to pave the way for the Lockerbie trial to be held in a neutral country, believes that Megrahi should win his appeal. He added: "I did not believe either of the accused should have been convicted, and it is pretty plain my view is that the appeal should succeed, simply because Megrahi should never have been convicted in the first place on the evidence that was led. "I believe that conclusions drawn by the court, that Megrahi bought clothing on Malta on a day when he was known to be on the island, went against the weight of the evidence. "These conclusions were absolutely vital to his conviction. But it is very difficult for five judges to turn round and say, ‘Our three very senior colleagues at the trial got it wrong and they were not entitled to convict.’ I’m not oozing confidence that my view will turn out to be correct."

Libya 'to pay damages for Lockerbie'

20/01/2002 THE INDEPENDENT (UK) Pan Am 103 - Millions of dollars for bomb victims' families if Gaddafi accepts responsibility - Relatives of the 270 people who died in the Lockerbie bombing stand to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in a secret deal being finalised by senior officials from Libya, Britain and the US. Senior Libyan officials met their British and American counterparts at the Foreign Office in London this month to discuss the deal, which would also see Tripoli accept general responsibility for the 1988 attack on Pan Am Flight 103, which killed all the passengers and crew and 11 people from the small Scottish border town. In return, the way would be opened for the north African country to resume oil deals worth billions of dollars. The negotiations are going on as Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the Libyan intelligence officer convicted last year of planting the bomb that destroyed the airliner, prepares for his appeal, due to start on Wednesday at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. His co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was found not guilty.

"A meeting took place on 10 January to discuss Libya's response to the requirements set down by the UN Security Council," a Foreign Office spokesman said. "There are two requirements – that Libya accept responsibility for the actions of its officers and that it pay compensation to the families of the victims." The meeting was the latest in a series of three-way engagements that have taken place since Megrahi's conviction last year. One person with knowledge of what transpired at the most recent meeting said: "Libya wants to get out of the shadow of Lockerbie, and the only way it can do that is to accept responsibility." Underlining the importance of the 10 January meeting, all three countries sent officials of the highest level. The US was represented by William Burns, the assistant secretary of state for the Middle East, while a spokesman for the Libyan embassy in London said that a special negotiating team was dispatched from Tripoli. Britain said it sent a senior Foreign Office official.

It is not clear how much compensation will be paid. Dr Jim Swire, who leads the group of 31 bereaved British families, said the relatives had been asked that they keep private the sums being discussed but that the total would come to "many, many millions". Previous estimates have said that Libya would pay at least $1m (£695,000) for each of the 270 people who died. Dr Swire said the families supported the efforts to bring Libya back into the international arena. "Our view is that it would be unhelpful to look at Libya now as it was in the mid-1980s," said Dr Swire, whose daughter, Flora, died in the bombing. "We feel it would be more of a memorial to our loved ones if we can play a small part in [ensuring Libya does not return to the path of terrorism]." Glenn Johnson, the chairman of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, the group that represents the vast majority of the families of the 169 US victims, was also encouraged that Libya was taking part in the talks. "Over the last 13 years I have spent around $100,000, pursuing the case," said Mr Johnson, who lost his 21-year-old daughter, Beth, in the incident.

Libya, which has already regained diplomatic relations with Britain, has much to gain from a normalisation of relations with the US – most importantly, the resumption of oil deals worth billions of dollars. The US believes that Libya is no longer involved in terrorism and was heartened by Colonel Gaddafi's comments condemning the attacks of 11 September. The US imposed its own sanctions in 1986, after Libyan agents bombed a Berlin disco frequented by US soldiers, killing two of them. US President Ronald Reagan responded by bombing Tripoli. The UN sanctions, suspended in 1999 after Libya handed over the two Lockerbie suspects, were imposed in 1992. The UN requirement that Libya pay compensation is not dependent on the outcome of Megrahi's appeal. After last year's verdict, Mohammed Azwai, Libya's ambassador to Britain, said Tripoli would pay if the conviction was upheld. "After the appeal result, at that time we will speak about compensation. We will fulfil our duty to the Security Council."

Lockerbie case demands discussed by top officials

14/01/2002 WALL STREET JOURNAL Top U.S. and Libyan officials have held several unpublicized meetings in England and Switzerland in recent years to discuss improving ties. Public-relations campaigns and lobbying efforts on Libya's behalf are under way, funded in part by oil money and driven by a desire to cash in on future deals or resume business interrupted by sanctions. The Libyan leader himself has been taking steps and sending signals that suggest he may want to get out of the terrorism business, U.S. officials say. The Gadhafi makeover could be reaching a critical moment. Last week, a top U.S. official and a Libyan intelligence operative met near London in another attempt to talk about the steps Libya must take before ties can be resumed. Later this month, a Scottish court is scheduled to hear the appeal of a Libyan intelligence agent found guilty in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103, over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans. Libya has signaled to U.S. officials directly and through intermediaries that when the legal process ends, the Gadhafi government may compensate the victims' families and take responsibility for the bombing, U.S. officials say. Many U.S. officials believe Col. Gadhafi himself was involved in the Pan Am bombing, the bloodiest terrorist attack on Americans before Sept. 11.

In October, William Burns, the assistant secretary of state for the Middle East, who was at last week's meeting outside London, addressed a congressional committee about the purpose of U.S. diplomacy toward Libya. He said it was meant "to make clear that there are no shortcuts around Libya . . . accepting responsibility for what happened and also for paying appropriate compensation" for the Pan Am bombing. There's a lot to be gained on both sides from rapprochement. Resolving the bombing could persuade Washington to lift the sanctions imposed in 1986. That would open the way for American companies to do business with the oil-rich country and for Libya to do some much-needed repair work on its economy. Libya also could become the first nation in more than a decade to graduate from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, U.S. officials say. Some of Washington's diplomatic maneuvers in the current war on terrorism involve refuting Mr. bin Laden's charges that America is at war with Islam. Washington wants to show, particularly to Muslim states, that a place on the terrorist list isn't a life sentence. Of the seven states listed -- Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba, only the last two aren't Islamic. Iran and Syria are considered possible candidates for redemption.

But in its eagerness to win converts to the campaign against Mr. bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network, the U.S. could find itself setting a dangerously broad definition for what is acceptable behavior. With Mr. Gadhafi, for instance, Washington can't be certain that the mercurial strongman's latest change of heart is genuine. In an unclassified report released last week, the Central Intelligence Agency said Libya continues to have "biological and chemical weapons" programs and would like to acquire long-range ballistic missiles "to increase the number of U.S. and NATO targets it can hold at risk." Still, the diplomatic dance between the U.S. and Libya has produced a stark change in Libya's previously sharp anti-American rhetoric. It began in secret more than two years before Sept. 11, in a series of meetings on the outskirts of London and in Geneva, Switzerland. Those meetings brought together senior officials of the Clinton administration, British officials and a top Libyan intelligence operative, Musa Kusa, according to U.S. officials.

The idea to meet emerged in February 1998, when the U.S. was embroiled in one of its periodic crises with Iraq. British Prime Minister Tony Blair telephoned President Clinton to discuss growing complaints by moderate Arab allies that the West was dealing unfairly with Arab states. Mr. Blair suggested it might be helpful to resolve the Libya issue in some way, a Clinton administration official recalls. The Saudi Arabian government, saying the U.S. needed to show it was prepared to believe a radical Arab state could mend its ways, made the same case privately. A Blair spokesman in London referred a request for comment to the British Embassy in Washington, where another press spokesman declined to comment on the phone call. President Clinton didn't move until after Col. Gadhafi agreed in April 1999 to hand over two Libyan suspects in the Pan Am 103 bombing. The White House then sent Martin Indyk, the assistant secretary of state for the Middle East at the time, and Bruce Riedel, the top White House Middle East staffer, to meet with Mr. Kusa, who often handles delicate missions for Col. Gadhafi. Mr. Kusa has been associated for more than 20 years with Libyan intelligence, which has been connected to assassinations of Libyan dissidents abroad and the Pan Am bombing.

Libya has been implicated in other major terrorist actions. Last year, a German judge found that Libyan agents, aided by the Libyan embassy in East Germany, had organized the April 5, 1986, bombing of a Berlin discotheque frequented by U.S. soldiers. Two American soldiers were killed. Five days later, the Reagan administration bombed the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and the city of Benghazi. In March 1999, six Libyans, including Col. Gadhafi's brother-in-law, were found guilty in absentia by a French court for the 1989 bombing of a French airliner over Niger, which resulted in the deaths of 170 people on board. Throughout the 1980s, Libya ran terrorist training camps and supported terrorist groups. In the highest-level contacts since President Reagan imposed sanctions in 1986, the U.S. held four meetings in which Clinton administration officials laid out the steps Col. Gadhafi must take to warm up relations with Washington. U.S. officials hammered away at one theme: Libya must compensate the families of Pan Am 103 victims and take responsibility for the terrorist bombing to make normal ties possible. A United Nations resolution also calls for Libya to compensate the victims' families and take responsibility for the bombing.

Then, the day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Col. Gadhafi condemned the actions publicly as "horrifying, destructive." In October, in a previously planned secret meeting, Mr. Kusa met in England with Mr. Burns. Mr. Kusa talked about what he called their common enemy, terrorism, according to a diplomat familiar with the session. Mr. Kusa offered information on the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which is believed to be linked to al Qaeda and which also targets Col. Gadhafi. On Dec. 5, the U.S. included the group on an expanded list of terrorist organizations whose members will be automatically barred from the U.S. or expelled if found here. At last week's meeting outside London, Mr. Burns reiterated the American stance on Pan Am 103, according to a State Department official. While the opening to Col. Gadhafi serves Washington's antiterrorist agenda, U.S. officials also believe political changes and economic pressures have forced the Libyan leader to change his tune in recent years. The handsome 27-year-old military officer who seized power in 1969 has become a tired dictator now trudging toward his 60th birthday. He has seen the fading of the brand of fiery Arab nationalism he once preached, which sought to establish a regional political bloc in the Middle East as a counterforce to the dominant Western powers and Israel. That goal was overtaken by the rise of Islamic extremism, a more dangerous movement driven by religious zealotry that seeks to confront the West with a global Muslim force built on Islamic fundamentalism.

Over the years, Libya's once oil-rich economy also has declined, battered by low oil prices, corruption and sanctions. The country is badly in need of U.S. technology, particularly in the energy sector. By the mid-1990s, Libya was beset with 50% inflation, 30% unemployment and shortages of consumer goods, notes Ray Takeyh, a specialist on North Africa at the Washington Institute for Near East policy. By 1998, pragmatists in the regime, led by Energy Minister Abdallah Salim al-Badri, had persuaded Col. Gadhafi to open the centrally planned economy in order to attract foreign investment. At the same time, the Libyan dictator shifted his diplomatic focus toward Africa and away from the Middle East, where he had financed radical groups and had been a strong voice rejecting any Arab compromise with Israel. In 1999, according to the State Department's annual Terrorism Report, Libya expelled the Abu Nidal organization, a deadly Mideast terrorist group of an earlier era, and endorsed efforts by Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, to negotiate peace with Israel.

"I have no time to lose talking with Arabs," Col. Gadhafi said in a March 1999 speech. "I now talk about Pan-Africanism and African unity." He tried to help resolve disputes involving Congo, Sudan and Sierra Leone, among others. Last November, the Gadhafi Foundation for Charitable Organizations, which is run by one of his sons, said it was involved in efforts to win freedom for eight foreign-aid workers held by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The most significant step in laying the groundwork for the current warming was Col. Gadhafi's decision on April 5, 1999, to turn over two Libyan suspects in the Pan Am 103 bombing. Within hours, the United Nations suspended the sanctions it had imposed in 1992. A few weeks later, Col. Gadhafi was invited for the first time to attend a meeting of the 27-nation Euro-Mediterranean Forum, which promotes economic integration.

Turning over the terrorism suspects also bolstered a public-relations and lobbying campaign conducted by Libya and its supporters, with quiet help from American companies. Four days after Col. Gadhafi agreed to the hand-over, the U.S.-Libya Dialogue Group held its first meeting, in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Mustafa Fitouri, a Libyan who is an information-technology professor at the Maastricht School of Management, helped arrange the session. He says the nonprofit group was set up "to show people in both countries, away from government, that people can communicate, work with each other." Among those invited to the event, which was hosted by Mr. Fitouri's school, were Asiddeg al-Jarani, a Libyan who lives in the Washington area, and six of his colleagues at the Libyan-American Friendship Association, which he describes as a small group set up in 1995 to discuss bilateral issues.

Mr. Fitouri says some funds for the meeting were provided by U.S. and Libyan companies, which he won't name. He adds that he doesn't know where all the money comes from because it's handled by a person, whom he also won't name, at a Libyan university. Until the Pan Am 103 case is resolved and sanctions are lifted, U.S. companies don't want to be identified as being close to Tripoli. In August 1999, Mr. Fitouri helped organize a second, all-expenses-paid meeting for the Dialogue Group, this time on Malta. Charles MacDonald, an international-relations professor at Florida International University, who attended the session, doesn't know who paid for his airfare, hotel, meals and even a tour of local ruins. He was told that the Netherlands and Malta meetings were videotaped and shown on Libyan television. "That told me that this had the blessing of the Libyan government," he says. Three days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Mr. Fitouri sent Mr. MacDonald an e-mail message: "As a friend and advocate of better understanding among peoples, I express my deepest condolences to you and your fellow citizens. . . . I was overwhelmed by the expressions of solidarities and offers of help coming from people like Col. Gadhafi."

Herman Cohen, a U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa from 1989 to 1993, also was at the Malta meeting. Now a business consultant, Mr. Cohen has been promoting rapprochement with Libya in the U.S. Last November, he spoke at a business seminar in Philadelphia sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa, which represents about 200 companies doing business there. He said it would be a mistake for the U.S. to continue the sanctions against Libya, which bar commercial transactions but not lobbying. On April 17, 1999, Mr. Cohen flew to Libya on a private jet with Kamel Ghribi, a client of his who is a Tunisian businessman with interests in Italy and Switzerland. They were accompanied by Stephen Hayes, who now heads the Corporate Council on Africa, and at the time also was a consultant hired by Mr. Ghribi. The two consultants were granted a 45-minute meeting with Col. Gadhafi, according to a five-page memo of the trip written by Mr. Hayes.

The memo depicts the two consultants flattering the Libyan leader, telling him that it was "most impressive that so many African and Middle East leaders" sought his help to resolve conflicts. But Col. Gadhafi had business on his mind. He said he wanted to buy U.S. oil-industry technology, agricultural and medical supplies and airplanes. Mr. Cohen "stated that the U.S. businesses would like to see sanctions on Libya end," according to the memo. Mr. Cohen says he doesn't know whether Mr. Ghribi does business in Libya. He declined to comment on Mr. Hayes's memo, and says he hasn't been in touch with Mr. Ghribi "in years." Mr. Hayes says he hasn't been in contact with Mr. Ghribi in some time. Efforts to reach Mr. Ghribi were unsuccessful. The four American oil companies that were forced by U.S. sanctions to suspend operations in Libya -- Occidental Petroleum Corp., Amerada Hess Corp., Marathon Oil Co. and Conoco Inc. -- are eager to return to Libya. Tripoli hasn't awarded their properties to any competitors, but since the 1999 suspension of U.N. sanctions, several European companies have pressed Tripoli to do so. According to BP-Amoco's statistical review of world energy, at the end of 1999, Libya had proven oil reserves of 29.5 billion barrels, making it No. 8 in the world.

Three of the U.S. firms, Conoco, Marathon and Amerada Hess, have hired Kenneth Duberstein, former chief of staff in the Reagan White House, to lobby on "initiatives to protect U.S. companies' assets in Libya," according to recent lobbying registration forms. The oil companies had been pressing Washington to let oil-industry engineers travel to Libya to inspect their oil fields. In January 2001, the administration issued the companies licenses for such an inspection trip. Mr. Duberstein didn't respond to calls requesting an interview. A spokesman for Conoco said "considerable progress" has been made toward resuming more normal ties. But he noted that earlier this month the Bush administration routinely approved the annual renewal of the 1986 sanctions. Among the four oil companies, Conoco has been the most outspoken in calling for an end to unilateral U.S. sanctions. Conoco estimates that since the company was forced to leave Libya in 1986, it has lost net production of 300 million barrels of crude oil, or more than $5 billion in revenue. A company spokesman called that a conservative estimate. Conoco declined to speculate on what the dropping of sanctions would mean for the company, or for the U.S. oil industry.

A spokesman for Occidental said the company was "encouraged" to see the two countries engaged in dialogue. A Marathon spokesman said it was "difficult to predict" how the efforts to improve ties would come out. Amerada Hess declined to comment. The oil companies already had friends in high places. Conoco's chairman and chief executive officer, Archie Dunham, has longtime ties to Vice President Dick Cheney, who formerly headed Halliburton Co., an energy-equipment maker. During his business career, Mr. Cheney was a regular critic of U.S. unilateral economic sanctions, to no avail.

Lockerbie lawyer dies before begin of appeal

Kamel Maghur10/01/2002 AOUDE MEDIA Just two weeks prior to the opening of the Lockerbie bombing appeal, one of the members of the defence team for Abdelbaset Al Megrahi has died. Kamel Maghur, who lead the defence team during the Lockerbie Trial in 2000/2001 died January 4 after a long time of illness. Mr. Maghur had been hospitalized after a heart attack during summer 2001. In February 2001, after trial verdict and due to his heart problems, Mr. Maghur was followed as new head of defence by the former head of defence, Ibrahim Legwell.

In 1998 Kamel Hassan Maghur headed a delegation to the UN to negotiate a solution to the Lockerbie matter and an end to the UN sanctions on Libya. He joined the team at the International Court of Justice concerning the interpretation of the Montreal Convention in connection with the legal issues concerned with the downing of Pan Am 103 and the extradition demand. In the mid 1980s, he was Libya´s Minister for Petroleum and head of OPEC. Thereafter he was Minister for Foreign Affairs. Libyan Television announced his death on Monday.

Mr. Maghur was also known as one of the pioneers of short stories in Libya. He has been writing since the 1950s. He had a total of 8 books published with two new books released in July 2000 containing a collection of short stories written in and about Camp Zeist. Mr. Maghur was born in Dahra, Tripoli Libya in 1935. He spent his childhood between Dahra and Cairo where he attended school. He obtained his law degree in Cairo, Egypt, in 1957, after which he returned to his native homeland to practice law.

Background information:

  • The official website of Kamel Maghur
    Containg excerpts of his novels and other information.

    BBC to televise Lockerbie appeal

    09/01/2002 BBC NEWS (!) The BBC has been granted permission to televise the appeal of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi. The decision by the Lord Justice General, Lord Cullen, to televise the appeal - and stream it on the internet in English with a simultaneous Arabic translation - is a milestone in Scottish legal history. It is the first time permission has been granted to televise any Scottish appeal court proceedings. A spokesman for the High Court Of Justiciary said: "The Lord Justice General, application having been made, today granted authority to the BBC to televise the appeal of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands." Authority will be subject to a protocol which has been drawn up to ensure broadcasters follow the strict guidance established by the Scottish Court.

    There will be a number of restrictions placed on broadcasters including a ban on the televising of any evidence taken from witnesses during the appeal hearing. It is is scheduled to begin in the Scottish Court in the Netherlands at Kamp van Zeist on 23 January. BBC Scotland's Home Affairs Correspondent, Reevel Alderson, said: "There will be a ban on televising any new evidence brought before the court. "Pictures will be provided from the court's own closed circuit system which was used to show the trial to victims' relatives at four sites in Britain the United States last year. "Proceedings will be streamed live on the internet both in English and with the simultaneous Arabic translation already available in the court." Blair Jenkins, BBC Scotland's Head of News and Current Affairs, said: "We are abosutely delighted that the court has given us permission to broadcast the proceedings in the appeal in the Lockerbie case.

    "We have always taken the view that this is a very interesting and important case not just in Scotland but also internationally and we will be broadcasting the proceedings live on the internet. "We will also be providing edited reports for all of our news programmes and we think there will be a terrific amount of interest in that." Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the bombing, said the decision would be of particular benefit to US relatives of victims. Dr Swire, a spokesman for UK Families Flight 103, said many relatives would be anxious about flying to Camp Zeist after the 11 September 11 terror attacks on the US. He said: "It will give them a way to keep in touch with what is going on and that is good news."

    Two years ago, judges at the High Court in Edinburgh rejected an application from BBC Scotland, and supported by eight other broadcasters, to screen the trial. The corporation claimed that the unique nature of the trial, which took place without a jury, meant it should be broadcast to the public. However, the Crown argued that televising the trial could compromise the safety of witnesses and discourage some from attending. Lawyers for Megrahi and his then co-accused Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah also contested the BBC's application.

    Also BBC same day:
    The decision to allow the BBC to televise the Lockerbie bomber's appeal has been hailed as an "important step" by a Scottish legal expert. However, Professor Jim Murdoch, of Glasgow University's law department, said the decision by Scotland's lord justice general should not be viewed as setting a precedent for the future. Lord Cullen granted an application by the BBC to broadcast and provide an internet stream of the appeal proceedings, which are due to begin at Camp Zeist, near Utrecht, Holland, on 23 January. Prof Murdoch said the decision was a crucial one for broadcasters in reinforcing the role of the media as a "watchdog" but he stressed that Scotland was still a long way from seeing the routine televising of trials. He told BBC News Online: "This is an important step, but one which should not be seen necessarily as establishing a new precedent. "We are - thankfully - still a great distance removed from American practice which readily allows the broadcasting of trials."

    The focus on ensuring justice, he said, had rightly led to a refusal to allow broadcasting of the trial of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and his then co-accused Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, who was acquitted. However, the appeal circumstances would be different as there would be no witnesses giving evidence. Prof Murdoch said: "The Scottish legal system rightly places the fair administration of justice as of paramount concern and the court's refusal to allow the broadcasting of the trial proceedings was understandable. "There would have been real concerns whether witnesses giving evidence could have been affected by the knowledge that their words would have been broadcast around the globe; further the legal system recognises that witnesses in trials may often require to be protected against the possibility of identification. "The broadcasting of appeal proceedings concerning legal argument does not give rise to such concerns, and the watchdog role of the media in helping scrutinise the administration of justice can thus be more readily acknowledged."

    Prof Murdoch said the broadcast of the appeal proceedings on television and the internet would assist people around the world in giving their own judgements on the trial. "The decision will allow a much wider audience more easily to observe the appeal court's determination of whether the trial court's conviction was a safe one," he said.

    Glasgow University Lockerbie Trial Briefing Team 09/01/2002
    BBC To Televise Appeal
    The BBC reported this afternoon that it has been granted permission to televise the Appeal when it is heard in Zeist beginning on 23rd January 2002. This announcement comes following a long campaign by the BBC to be permitted to record the proceedings and make this available to the public. A BBC Scotland spokesman this afternoon told the LTB Team that they are pleased to be in a position to televise the appeal as they believe it is of great public interest and will assist in the justice process by ensuring that justice is seen to be done. This is the first time that leave has been granted to televise any Scottish Appeal Court. The permission is limited and a protocal has been drawn up ensuring that the guidance of the Scottish Court is followed. This is thought to include restrictions on the broadcast of evidence taken from witnesses and other matters. The spokesman commented that it is the BBCs intention at this time that the video feed will be streamed from the BBC Online service over the Internet, another First for this case, and the footage will also be available for documentary use in the future as well as providing clips and stills for news programs during the appeal.

    Background information:

  • News from March 2000, discussions of a televised Lockerbie trial (middle of page - scroll down)
  • Professor Robert Black and Dr. Paul Mason discuss pros and contras of a televised Lockerbie Trial

    UK threat to destroy Lockerbie trial centre

    07/01/2002 THE SCOTSMAN (UK) BRITAIN is threatening to pull down the purpose built complex at Camp Zeist in Holland after the end of the Lockerbie trial unless the Dutch government pays millions of pounds. The £20m complex was built on the US base to create a Scottish court sitting in a neutral country for the trial of the two Libyan men accused of the bombing. But while the Dutch thought they would have the camp returned to them with the new facilities, Britain has said it wants payment for them. It had been hoped that the site might be sold to the International Court but this is now not going ahead. One source said: "There are quiet negotiations going on at the moment. It had been hoped to sell the site as it is to the International Court. But the Dutch have taken the view that they allowed a little part of their country to become Scottish for a while so that this trial could go ahead.

    "They think that whatever is left behind is rightly theirs. But the US dog has been wagging the Scottish tail and our guys have been acting tough as a result. The Dutch have been told we might just dismantle the site and restore it to what it was when the Americans pulled out 10 years ago. That would be a tragedy, but I understand the Dutch are ready to call the bluff. It would be seen as an act of vandalism and ingratitude by the international community." The UK and US invested heavily to create the court facilities and what is probably the most secure small prison in the world. They have also had to absorb monthly running costs of up to £2m since the two Libyans agreed to submit to a trial some three years ago.

    The US Department of Justice revealed last year that it had cost about £143m to conduct the investigation and prepare for the trial. The whole package makes Lockerbie by far the most expensive criminal investigation in history. By the time Megrahi’s appeal is heard early this year, the total cost of the whole affair to the US and UK will be close to £300m. Camp Zeist would be ideal to house top security prisoners facing charges of war crimes, such as Slobodan Milosevic

    Syracuse Lockerbie Scholarship opens doors for Scottish student, remembers victims of Flight 103

    29/10/2001 UNIVERSITY WIREY (US) This article has been posted a bit late, sorry !
    (Daily Orange) (U-WIRE) SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- David Thomson and his parents felt the walls vibrate. They thought the stereo was just too loud. It wasn't. "We turned the volume down, but (the walls) kept shaking. So we looked outside and saw this big mushroom-like fireball," he said. Thomson, a first-year graduate student at Syracuse University in television, radio and film, was in his hometown of Lockerbie, Scotland, when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in mid-air Dec. 21, 1988. The bombing killed 270 people, including 35 Division of International Programs Abroad students returning to Syracuse. He was 10 years old at the time. Eight years later, in 1996, Thomson won the Lockerbie Scholarship after graduating from high school. The scholarship, established in 1989 in memory of the bombing, invites two students from the Lockerbie area to attend SU. But for Thomson, one year just wasn't enough.

    "The thing that is special about David is that he came back here to get his degree," said Judy O'Rourke, local coordinator for the scholarship. "He is the first Lockerbie scholar ever to do that, or to continue studies in the U.S. for that matter." Thomson attended the University of Edinburgh in Scotland after his one-year stay in Syracuse and received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and artificial intelligence. Now he is back at SU to get his Master's degree in television, radio and film. "David is what I would call 'that good student from Scotland that just won't go away,'" said Professor Robert Thompson, who taught Thomson at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications five years ago. "I only wish everybody loved coming back to Syracuse as much as he did." Thomson said he knew he wanted to be involved with television after coming to SU as a Lockerbie Scholar. And although he looked at other programs at New York University and the University of California at Los Angeles, he decided to come back to SU one more time. "I was a bit hesitant," he said. "You never return to a party you' ve left, you know? But Newhouse had the best to offer."

    As for the Pan Am Flight 103 tragedy, Thomson said he was too young to really feel its effect at the time. But the Lockerbie Scholarship had an important influence on his life, which O'Rourke said has been the goal of the program since its inception. "The scholarship really is a logical way to remember a very tragic event," she said. "Obviously it was a horrible thing that it happened, but at least with something like this, some good can come out of it." Thomson agreed, although he has found many SU students don't know about the scholarship or even Pan Am Flight 103. It is easy to see why, he said, because it was so long ago. And with the events of Sept. 11, he added that many are more affected by the recent attacks. Thomson was no exception. He worked near the World Trade Center during the summer of 1997 and had friends who worked in the area as well.

    "They have all since moved on to other jobs, which was fortunate," he said. "But when I heard about it, I was just in a state of disbelief. It was like a bad Tom Clancy novel or something." Thomson also said reactions to the two events were similar -- many wanted memorials and monuments, and others simply wanted to forget it ever happened. But either way, it seems that people are moving on from both tragedies, he said. Thomson is also moving on. He plans to graduate in December of 2002 and possibly go to London or New York to work on a career in directing. With a degree and portfolio from SU, he also hopes to enter into a higher-level job than if he had studied communications in Europe. "The (Lockerbie) Scholarship opened a lot of doors to a lot of things I otherwise wouldn't have been able to do," he said.

    Background information:

  • The Syracuse Tragedy: 35 students from SU killed on Pan Am 103
  • Lockerbie 1988-2001, including scholarship information

    NATIONAL SECURITY: Lockerbie Anti-Terror Recommendation

    17/11/2001 NATIONAL JOURNEY (US) In 1990, nearly a year and a half after the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism released the report of its findings. The document begins with the words: "National will and the moral courage to exercise it are the ultimate means for defeating terrorism." At the time, investigators were still not certain who was responsible for the bombing. The commission, which made numerous recommendations for how the State Department should improve the way it responds to international acts of terrorism and how it works with the families of victims, also addressed domestic airline security and proposed ideas for a national response to terrorism.

    Commission Chairman Ann McLaughlin wrote this in her letter introducing the report to President George H.W. Bush: "The unyielding determination of the families of the victims of Pan Am 103, who sought this inquiry, provided the energy for our work. The sensitive and caring response of the people of Lockerbie, Scotland, provided the passion. We trust this report reflects their determination and passion. We are confident that its recommendations can enhance the security of the traveling public. For this is surely our first and highest responsibility."

    The following are excerpts from recommendations made by the commission: The FAA and the FBI should work together ... to assess the vulnerability of U.S. airports to the threat of terrorist violence. Additionally, the level of terrorist threat in the United States must be analyzed and monitored on a continuing basis to ensure the proper level of security at domestic airports, and the FAA and FBI should work together to arrive at the most effective method for this to be done. The FAA must begin to develop stronger security measures for controls over checked baggage, controls over persons with access to aircraft, testing of security systems, the use of modern X-ray equipment, and the prescreening of passengers. The FAA should initiate immediately the planning and analysis necessary to phase additional security measures into the domestic system over time.

    The Congress should require criminal record checks for all airport employees. The legislation should identify certain criminal records that indicate a potential security risk and enable airport operators to deny employment on that basis. The United States must improve human intelligence- gathering on terrorism, in cooperation with other nations. The United States must heighten emphasis on the second element of U.S. counter-terrorism policy-that state sponsors should be made to pay a price for their actions. The United States must develop a clear understanding that state-sponsored terrorism threatens U.S. values and interests, and that active measures are needed to counter more effectively the terrorist threat. The United States should ensure that all government resources are prepared for active measures-pre-emptive or retaliatory, direct or covert-against a series of targets in countries well-known to have engaged in state-sponsored terrorism.

    David PetrieUniversity professor protests against VOA´s Lockerbie news report

    18/11/2001 After reading a news report from Voice of America VOA News, several people have protested against it. One of those is David Petrie, a language professor from the University of verona. below is his comment:

    "Owen Fay, Voice of America, reports, from the United Nations, 13 November 2001 the Libyan foreign minister's comments on the Lockerbie Verdict as follows:

    One of the Libyan defendants in that trial was found guilty by an international tribunal. Mr. Shalgem expressed his country's disagreement with the verdict. "What we wish to highlight and to emphasize is that the conviction issued by the tribunal on the 31st of January this year was a political decision that has nothing whatsoever to do with the law," he says. "Al-Magrahi, a Libyan citizen, has been kidnapped for political reasons."

    In point of fact, Mr Al-Magrahi was found guilty by a Scottish Tribunal, with 3 Scottish judges and no jury, convened under special circumstances in The Nertherlands.

    Mr. Shalgem did point this out in his statement to the United Nations on 13 November 2001 and in fairness it should have been reported. This is particularly important since the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan appointed an international observer, Professor Dr. Hans Koechler to report on the trial. Professor Koechler heavily criticises in his report dated 3 February 2001, the influence of " foreign governments or (secret) government agencies", paragraph 8, and concludes , par. 18 " Regrettably, through the conduct of the Court, disservice has been done to the important cause of criminal justice."

    Yours sincerely,

    David Petrie

  • Lecturer in English, University of Verona
  • Chairman of the Association of Foreign Language Lecturers in Italy
    via G. Trezza 12
    37129 VERONA
    tel & fax +39 045 8003408

    Background information:

  • Lockerbie 1988-2001

    Libyan Official Critical of Lockerbie Verdict

    12/11/2001 Voice of America News Libya's foreign minister today joined in the call for an international response to the terrorist threat. But, in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he was also critical of the Lockerbie bombing verdict handed down earlier this year. Mohammed Shalgem offered Libya's support in the global campaign to fight terror. He reminded the U.N. that in 1992, Libya requested a special session of the General Assembly to establish comprehensive procedures to battle terrorism, and asked the world body to reconsider that proposal. But, he was also highly critical of another, related issue: the verdict handed down earlier this year in the Lockerbie bombing trial.

    One of the Libyan defendants in that trial was found guilty by an international tribunal. Mr. Shalgem expressed his country's disagreement with the verdict. "What we wish to highlight and to emphasize is that the conviction issued by the tribunal on the 31st of January this year was a political decision that has nothing whatsoever to do with the law," he says. "Al-Magrahi, a Libyan citizen, has been kidnapped for political reasons." Just as speakers from other developing countries, Mr. Shalgem told the U.N. that, in addition to terrorism, several other global challenges must be met. Among them, he cited the environment, the AIDS crisis, and global trade. He also asked the U.N. to implement internal reforms to give a greater voice to the developing countries.
    Source: http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=B0FC38FF-976C-4AC5-A548DE07AA7CD891&Title=Libyan%20Official%20Critical%20of%20Lockerbie%20Verdict#

    Background information:

  • Libya´s comments on terrorism combatting, UN General Assembly November 12, 2001

    Prayers and a few tears as Borders town remembers

    13/11/2001 THE INDEPENDENT (UK) There were prayers and a few tears in Lockerbie as people remembered their own experiences of 13 years ago when Pan Am flight 103 crashed on the town killing 259 passengers and crew, as well as 11 people on the ground. It is a long time since the Borders town suffered the agony the New York district of Queens is experiencing today but the memories are just as vivid and the feelings of compassion for those having to endure similar horrors are heartfelt. "What has happened to those people in that residential suburb is very much what happened to us, whether it is a terrorist attack or not," said Marjorie McQueen, a town councillor.

    Mrs McQueen and her doctor husband, Kenneth, lived through the tragedy and its aftermath. And they still still live within 200 yards of Sherwood Crescent, the street that was almost wiped out by the crash. "As soon as you see or hear anything like what happened in Queens you are inevitably drawn back to 1988. It is particularly poignant seeing the streets on fire and the empty shells of the burnt-out buildings which are very reminiscent of what we endured at Lockerbie. "We have moved on as a community. The 'normal' people of Lockerbie just want to put it behind them; people are tired of having to deal with the media attention which happens every time something like this happens to bring it all back."Our feelings are with the people of Queens, who will undoubtedly feel shock at what has happened. Many of them will, within the next few hours or days, experience a strong feeling guilt as to why they survived and others didn't. "Obviously when it was known that it wasn't an accident, that someone had planned it, there was a huge feeling of anger in the town.

    "The community of Queens will undoubtedly bind together to cope with this. But on top of their own grief and the media attention they will also have to handle the bereaved relatives from the victims on the plane. We know the name of Lockerbie will always be synonymous now with terror and tragedy but, as the people of Queens will discover, it is possible to move on but it takes time."George Stobbs, a retired policeman, was the senior inspector for Lockerbie and the surrounding area at the time. "It is something you never forget or would wish for anyone else to have to experience," he said. "I remember the smell of aviation fuel, hedges, trees and streets on fire, having to wade through piles of debris and human remains to reach the houses in Sherwood Crescent where the engine came down."

    Background information:

  • Lockerbie 1988-2001

    "Gadhafi the terrorist" - opinion from Washington Times

    09/11/2001 WASHINGTON TIMES (US) Below a letter from Susan and Dan Cohen, published in The Washington Times in regard to a recent article:
    " In late September a State Department official called a number of relatives of those killed in the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 to tell us that Assistant Secretary of State William Burns and his British counterpart would be meeting in London with Mohammed Azwai, the Libyan ambassador to the United Kingdom. We asked if there was anything special about this meeting. We were told that the call was just part of the administration's ongoing effort to keep families informed of any developments. All the United States and United Kingdom were going to do, so we were told, was to reaffirm the oft-stated position that Libya would be required to accept responsibility for the bombing, pay appropriate compensation and refrain from any future terrorist activity.

    The answer was surprising since the administration had never shown any desire to keep us informed about anything. There had already been at least two of these trilateral meetings at the United Nations, and we had to find out about them in the newspapers. What the administration failed to tell us was that one of the participants at the London meeting was to be a Libyan named Musa Kusa, head of Libya's external security organization for the last 20 years. Mr. Kusa, who has been branded "the master of terror" had orchestrated the killing of Libyan dissidents abroad, aided such high-profile terrorists as Abu Nidal, and was the moving force behind the bombing of a French UTA airliner in 1989 and the bombing of Pan Am 103. Even in a regime loaded with thugs and killers Mr. Kusa stands out. He has a lot of American blood on his hands. He has our daughter's blood on his hands.

    When the news of Mr. Kusa's participation in the meeting first appeared in the British press, we immediately called the State Department to demand an explanation. We were told that the United States had no idea that Mr. Kusa was going to be at the meeting. He just showed up. The United States was too polite to ask him to leave or simply walk out. If you buy that explanation we have a bridge to Brooklyn we would like to sell you. The Libyan ambassador was ebullient. He said Mr. Kusa had come to Britain to meet with his intelligence counterparts in MI6 and the CIA. U.S. officials have hinted delicately that Mommar Gadhafi's regime might be useful in the broad coalition against Osama bin Laden.

    Libya's U.N. representative told CNN's Paula Zahn that Libya could be very helpful in the fight against terrorism because Libya had suffered "more than anyone else" from terrorism. He suggested that all the countries of the world get together to examine the evidence in the September 11 attacks. He also said that Mr. Gadhafi himself had proposed a big international conference on terrorism where everybody could present their ideas. A few days earlier Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told Larry King that Mr. Gadhafi was a "real antiterrorist" who should be part of any coalition. Mr. Mubarak also wanted an international conference on terrorism that would include just about everybody. Both Paula and Larry failed to ask their guests about Pan Am 103. Perhaps, like the State Department, they were just too polite.

    You don't have to be a Washington insider to figure out that a deal is being cooked up. And it's springtime for Mr. Gadhafi. He will be forgiven for a lifetime of terrorism and the worst terrorist attack on American civilians before September 11. Even before September 11, the Bush administration, under pressure from American oil interests, had been pushing for Mr. Gadhafi's rehabilitation. The line was that Mr. Gadhafi had "mellowed" - translation, he hasn't blown up any American planes recently. Mr. Gadhafi is an erratic and unstable character with a lifelong history of treachery and violence. While he now turns a smiling face toward the United States, back home and in the rest of the Muslim world, he regularly denounces the West, America in particular, as the source of all evil in the world. Most recently he has accused the United States of plotting to infect Libyan children with the AIDS virus. He also has a large stock of powerful weapons, including biological weapons. What kind of a message does this send to terrorists if, in the end, even this guy can be forgiven?

    U.S. officials like to quote what they say is an old Middle Eastern proverb: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." At one time Osama bin Laden was our friend because he was the enemy of our enemy the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. When will we learn that sometimes the enemy of our enemy is just another enemy?

    Background information:

  • More about Dan and Susan Cohen and pan Am 103
  • Susan and Daniel Cohen are the authors of "Pan Am 103: The Bombing, The Betrayals and a Bereaved Family's Search for Justice."

    Terrorism: It Ain´t What It Used to Be

    12/11/2001 TIME MAGAZINE (US) Perhaps you´ ve heard that Colonel Gaddafi, ex-Mr. terror himself, is supporting President Bush´s war on Osama Bin Laden. In an e-mail interview with Time, the Libyan leaders ambitious son, Seif al Islam (Sword of Islam), or just Seif to his friends, elaborates: "The kind of terrorism that Libya was accused of is different from today´s terrorism." How´s that ? Seif, 29, an architect with a business degree who heads a charitable foundation, maintains that his father supported freedom fighters, like Nelson Mandela and Yasser Arafat, now given "red carpet" treatment in the U.S.

    Islamic fanatics, on the other hand, just want to kill people, including, it turns out, Gaddafi Sr. "They tried many times to assasinate the Leader", he writes. Seif is brandishing an olive branch even as the U.S. extends sanctions against his father´s regime. He says that Libya longs to send students to American universities, import U.S. wheat and medicine, invest in the lucrative oil and gas sectors and work with Washington to combat poverty and disease in Africa. "It is time we turned a new leaf." he says. The main obstacle is Libya´s refusal to admit involvment in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103, which killed 270. "Terrorism is terribly frightening", Seif acknowledges with (....) a trace of irony. If only his father had thought of that.

    From TIME MAGAZINE, Notebook section, page 28, November 12 issue)

    US set to ease Libya sanctions, say diplomats

    02/11/2001 WWW.WORLDOIL.COM The US may ease sanctions against Libya next year as part of a broader effort to reform a unilateral sanctions policy and in return for recent cooperation against terrorism, two former top US diplomats to the region believe. Libya has provided intelligence on the al Qaeda terrorist network to US government officials since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and has cooperated with the UN in the trial of the Lockerbie bombing suspects, said Robert Pelletreau, who was assistant US secretary of state for Near East affairs from 1994 to 1997.

    "The stage seems set for further progress," Pelletreau said in remarks at the US-Africa Business Summit. The US and Libya have had high-level official contacts since the Sept. 11 attacks and are keeping intelligence channels open, moves that "change the paradigm somewhat" for future bilateral ties, he said. Since 1999 when Libya handed over two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing, the UN has suspended its sanctions on the country, and the UK normalized ties. But the US maintains a series of unilateral sanctions on business investment and is waiting for Libya to acknowledge responsibility and compensate families of the bombing victims before easing the prohibitions.

    Pelletreau said President George W. Bush's administration may begin to ease sanctions next year after a judicial panel decides on the appeal of the Libyan bombing suspect, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who was found guilty by a Scottish court Jan. 31. Herman Cohen, who served as assistant secretary of state for Africa from 1989 to 1993, said the Libyan government could speed the process of rapprochement by settling the claims of victims' families before the appeal decision is rendered. For its part, the US government could open an "interests "office in Libya to precede full normalization of ties, Cohen said. Whereas in the 1980s the US considered Libya a major sponsor of terrorism, Cohen said today Libya is a victim of the same terrorist network that has targeted the US. He said the Libyan government appreciates US investments in petroleum and agriculture that preceded the sanctions, noting that Moammar Qaddafi's government has so far reserved oil field interests for the US companies that had to abandon them owing to sanctions.

    Pelletreau, who serves as chairman of the Corporate Council on Africa's Maghreb working group, said Libya's petroleum sector could help the US diversify away from reliance on Persian Gulf oil. - Source - Dow Jones
    Source: http://www.worldoil.com/news/newsstory.asp?ref=

    Background information:

  • More about the UN and the US sanctions against Libya 1992-2001

    Rumors from US State Department suggest deal with Libya over Lockerbie

    27/10/2001 REUTERS Two recent articles in local US newspapers suggest an upcoming deal between Libya and the US over Lockerbie. After the attack on New York and Washington September 11 earlier this year, the US seems to be ready to make a dela over the downing of Pan Am 103. Relatives are upset. Read the two articles below:

  • Bush Administration Orchestrating a Thaw With Gadhafi's Libya (The Forward - 19/10/2001)
  • U.S. officials secretly met terror suspect (Knight Ridder News Service - 21/10/2001)

    At the same time, Libya´s ambassador to the UK has protested against a newspaper article in The Observer, linking Libya´s terrorism expert and negotiator Musa Kusa with Lockerbie:

    Libya maligned
    Sunday October 21, 2001 - The Observer(UK)

    "The article It is inconceivable that I, as a former lawyer, would advocate, especially in a serious case like Lockerbie, accepting responsibility for an action in which one defendant was acquitted and the other is awaiting the outcome of an appeal. Such a course would be prejudicial to a fair hearing. Despite past injustices, the Libyan people have shown a willingness to start an era of better relations, understanding and co-operation with the UK and, hopefully, the US.
    Britain has never accused Musa Kusa of involvement in the Lockerbie case, so the allegation that his invitation to the UK was a 'reward' to Libya for its support for the coalition against terrorism, must, in the international climate after 11 September, be viewed as sensationalist. In fact, the meeting was scheduled for before 11 September but was postponed for logistical reasons."

    Mohamed Azwai
    Secretary (Ambassador) of the Libyan People's Bureau to the United Kingdom
    London SW7

    ( This was written in ref. to: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4272092,00.html )
    That particular Observer article can also be read further below on this page, item October 7, 2001.

    Lockerbie relatives renew call for inquiry

    Marina Larracoechea 15/10/2001 REUTERS An inquiry into mysteries surrounding the 1988 Lockerbie bombing is vital following the September 11 attacks in the United States, Lockerbie victims' families have said. They vowed to press on with demands for an independent investigation after Scottish judges denied a plea by the sister of a stewardess killed in the explosion for such a probe. "If we had had a proper enquiry, the events of September 11 possibly might never have happened," said Reverend John Mosey, whose daughter Helga died on Pan Am 103 on December 21, 1988. Mosey told reporters bereaved relatives supported Spanish-born Marina de Larracoechea, who made her unusual plea at a pre-appeal hearing for Libyan former secret agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, sentenced to life in January for murdering the 270 victims of the blast over Lockerbie, Scotland.

    Victims' relatives have long demanded a wide-ranging enquiry, saying the full truth did not emerge at the trial, but the September suicide attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon make it urgent, said Jim Swire, who has been crusading for justice since his daughter Flora perished. "There's a boiling resentment among relatives...but now it's not just a question of our personal rights being violated, but the safety of the entire population of the UK," he said. Foreign Minister Jack Straw promised last week in a meeting with Lockerbie relatives that the cabinet would consider a broad probe, but families were prepared to go to the European Court of Justice if this demand were not met, Swire said.

    De Larracoechea, who now lives in New York, said she was not convinced of the guilt of either Megrahi or co-defendant Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima, whom judges acquitted in January. An original line of the criminal investigation that pointed towards radical Palestinians would more likely have targeted the guilty parties, she told reporters after the hearing. Alleging that governments failed to act on prior intelligence of the bombing, she asked judges for a new enquiry or permission to participate personally in the appeal. About one-third of Pan Am flight 103 was empty after cancellations by passengers who received warnings, she said. "The rights of the victims were totally abandoned, so you have to do something," said De Larracoechoea, who gave up her career as a architectural designer to campaign full-time. Judges denied her petition, saying the appeal could only examine evidence heard at the trial plus any extra evidence presented by Megrahi's counsel.

    Background information:

  • More about Nieves and Marina Larracoechea (Spanish newspaper article, translated into English)

    Full coverage of week 1 of the appeal in the Lockerbie bombing trial

    15.10.2001 The Lockerbie trial has commenced the appeal hearing of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi. At the preliminary hearing Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi's counsel was given four weeks to lodge the outlines of its arguments. The prosecution side will then have four weeks to respond and the Camp Zeist court will begin to hear the case on 23 January. A Petition by Marina de Larracoechea, whose sister was killed on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, appeared also before Lord Justice-Clerk Cullen and four other Judges of the Appeal Court at Zeist this morning. Her petition was denied. Court adjourned until January 23rd, 2001, unless new hearing is being called for before that date.

    LOCKERBIE BOMBING TRIAL APPEAL WEEK 1 (15/10 - 19/10, 2001)
    With news items, interviews, pictures and comments - updated 15.10.2001

    A full review for each appeal week from first prelimenary meeting in October 2001 until now, on this page:

    A full review for each week from beginning of trial in May until now, on this page:

    Libyan convicted for Lockerbie bombing to appear before appeals court

    12/10/2001 AFP+REUTERS+et.al. Libyan Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi is due to appear before a Scottish appeals court in the Netherlands Monday to try to overturn a life sentence for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The preliminary hearing at Camp Zeist in the central Netherlands will deal solely with administrative matters before the actual start of the appeal in January or February. "It is a hearing to tie up loose ends before trial," said Paul Geoghan, a spokesman for the court. Megrahi, who has insisted throughout the trial he had nothing to do with the attack, logdged his appeal in February and a Scottish high court accepted the appeal in August. The grounds on which Megrahi is appealing are not known and will not be dealt with at Monday's hearing, according to legal experts at the university of Glasgow school of law.

    Defence lawyer Allistair Duff told AFP his client would be present at the preliminary hearing but also said it would be purely procedural. "The judges may ask for written submissions because they may want to know which piece of evidence we intend to direct to in our arguments," he said. In Scottish court, submissions are usually done orally. The appeals chamber will consist of five judges. Although Duff would not comment on the grounds of the appeal, it is believed the defence will challenge evidence which came from Tony Gauci, a shopkeeper in Malta, who identified Megrahi as a man who bought clothes from his store shortly before the bombing. The reliability of Gauci's evidence was called into question during the trial.

    The defence is also expected to question wether the trial judges were entitled to decide that Megrahi was the man who bought the clothes. In September, Britain's Mirror daily reported that the bomb that blew up the Boeing 747 could have been put on board in London. If confirmed, the report would destroy a key plank in the conviction of Megrahi. The prosecution case hinges on the suitcase containing the bomb having been loaded in Frankfurt, Germany after being sent there via an Air Malta flight from Valetta by Megrahi. When Megrahi was convicted to life imprisonment in January, the verdict did not lay to rest the many unanswered questions of the families of the Lockerbie victims. The court accepted the prosecution's theory that Libya was behind the bombing, rejecting another scenario put forward that Iran, Syria and the Palestinian group FPLP-CG carried out the attack to avenge an Iranian aircraft accidentally shot down by an American missile in July 1988.

    The families of the victims of the bombing have called repeatedly for a full public inquiry by the British government into the case. "What we are after is the whole truth," Jim Swire, a British doctor whose 23-year-old daughter Flora was killed in the tragedy, told GMTV television in August. Relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing are travelling to Holland for the first stage of the appeal of the Libyan convicted of the atrocity. Two British fathers who lost their daughters in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 were today making the journey to Holland to be at the appeal hearing. Dr Jim Swire and the Rev John Mosey were at Camp Zeist for virtually every day of 49-year-old Al Megrahi's trial which began last May and ended in January this year.

    Mr Mosey, who lost his 19-year-old daughter Helga in the bombing, said: "We feel it's important that someone from the families is there to see that justice is done." Dr Swire, whose daughter Flora, 23, was killed, said: "We followed the whole of the trial so it makes sense to follow this stage as well." Dr Swire also revealed how he and other members of the UK Families Flight 103 pressed Foreign Secretary Jack Straw for a full inquiry into the tragedy at a recent meeting. He said: "We intimated that in our view it's extremely urgent to have an inquiry because Lockerbie was always an avoidable tragedy."

    The hearing tomorrow before five Scottish judges - Lords Cullen, Kirkwood, MacFadyen, Nimmo-Smith and McEwan - will consider various procedural and administrative matters. The hearing is expected to last a day and to set the date for the start of the appeal which is likely to be early next year. The full grounds of Al Megrahi's appeal have not yet been made public.

    A possible twist to Monday's otherwise formal proceedings could be an address to the court by a woman whose sister was one of the flight attendants who perished in the Lockerbie blast. Legal observers said she wanted to join the prosecution team for the appeal. But they rated her chances of even stating her case in court on Monday as slim since only lawyers qualified in Scotland could take part in legal teams in Scottish courts.

    Connery scraps Lockerbie film

    12/10/2001 THE HERALD (UK) SIR Sean Connery has been forced to abandon his plan to produce and star in a film about the Lockerbie disaster. The idea, first mooted in December 1997, was shelved earlier this year, before the conclusion of the trial of the two Libyan men accused of the bombing. However, the Scottish actor's Los Angeles-based production company has only now revealed that the film will not go ahead. A spokeswoman for Fountainbridge Films said the idea was abandoned after Connery failed to interest major film companies -- including Sony, with whom he wanted to build an Edinburgh-based national Scottish studio -- in the project.

    Connery planned to star as a Glasgow detective who moves to the Borders to enjoy a quiet life but finds himself investigating Britain's worst terrorist disaster His character was based on Sir John Orr, the former chief constable of Strathclyde Police who headed the investigation. The script for the film belongs to the British writers of Porridge, Auf Wiedersehen Pet and The Commitments, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais . Both men visited Lockerbie in 1997 to talk to relatives of the victims of the bombing. Their script was conceived as a docu-drama and was intended to be historically accurate. La Frenais said at the time: 'There is no doubt, in my opinion, that the real reason for the crash has been covered up. We draw our own conclusions after extensive research.'

    Victims' relatives were supportive of the film idea, but lawyers representing the two Libyans accused of the bombing feared it could have been prejudicial to this year's trial.

    Libyan linked to Lockerbie welcome in UK

    07/10/2001 THE OBSERVER (UK) A senior Libyan official accused of involvement in the Lockerbie bombing and branded 'the master of terror' has been welcomedby the Foreign Office as part of a charm offensive in the wake of the 11 September attacks. Musa Kusa, head of Libya's external security organisation - which masterminded the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the worst mass murder in Britain - arrived in London last month for talks with MI6, the secret intelligence service, and members of the CIA.

    The invitation is a measure of how seriously the Foreign Office regards the Islamic threat. The move will infuriate British relatives of the 270 Lockerbie victims, many of whom believe that justice was not done when a Dutch court convicted a low-ranking member of the Libyan intelligence service for the bombing. Kusa is known in Libyan dissident circles as the master of terror. He was behind the liquidation of Libyan dissidents in Britain and was expelled from London in 1980 for orchestrating the killing of a BBC World Service journalist, Mohamed Mustafa Ramadan, outside Regent's Park mosque. He is also wanted in France in connection with the downing of a French DC-10 of the UTA airline in 1989 with 170 passengers aboard, an attack similar to the 1988 bombing of Flight 103.

    The rehabilitation of Kusa - who was visiting Britain for the first time in 20 years without an alias - is seen as a reward for Tripoli's backing for the US coalition against terrorism. On his visit, which ended last week, Kusa is understood to have met William Burns, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, in what is thought to be the highest-level official contact between the United States and Libya since the US aerial bombardment of Tripoli in 1986. 'We welcome all attempts at close coordination and assistance whatever the source,' said a US official. 'I'm not aware we've ruled out anyone speaking on behalf of the Libyan government.' The Foreign Office confirmed a Libyan delegation had been in Britain but refused to disclose its members. But Mohamed Azwai, the Libyan ambassador in London confirmed that Kusa had met British and American officials and provided a list of more than a dozen Libyans in the UK suspected of links to Osama bin Laden.

    The list included members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (IFG), which Libya claims is active in Britain. Azwai appeared to accede to Washington's demands to admit responsibility for acts of its officials convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. 'Mr Kusa came to Britain and met with his MI6 and the CIA counterparts,' Azwai said. 'Libya will not have difficulty accepting responsibility [for the Lockerbie bombing]. Under international law, the state must accept responsibility for the wrongdoing of its officials.'

    In terrorism fight, U.S. consults Pan Am 103 suspect - Libyan meets with State Dept.

    12/10/2001 USA TODAY WASHINGTON -- U.S. officials have sought assistance for their new war against terrorism from a Libyan accused of plotting the bombing in 1988 of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland -- one of the worst terrorist acts against Americans before Sept. 11. The State Department confirmed on Thursday that Musa Kusa, Libya's foreign intelligence chief, met in London on Oct. 3 with Assistant Secretary of State William Burns. Disclosure of the meeting has upset relatives of the 189 Americans who died in the jetliner's midair explosion. State Department officials alerted family members that they planned to meet with Libyans but did not mention Kusa. His presence was first revealed in British newspapers this week.

    A top Libyan intelligence agent for 2 decades, Kusa has ''blood on his hands all around the world,'' says Vince Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counterterrorism. Cannistraro led the CIA's initial investigation of the crash. The meeting reflected the Bush administration's willingness to deal with unsavory characters to root out Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda network, which is blamed for last month's attacks. That was not sufficient reason for Pan Am 103 relatives. ''What are we doing sitting down at the table with this guy?'' complained Rosemary Wolfe of Alexandria, Va. She lost a daughter, Miriam, 20. Wolfe said that after she protested to the State Department, an official told her that Kusa ''probably knows a lot about Lockerbie.''

    A State Department official said the meeting originally was to have been with Libya's ambassador to Britain and a British diplomat. Burns pressed Libya to accept responsibility for blowing up Pan Am 103 and pay compensation to relatives, the official added. Both demands are conditions for Washington to lift U.S. economic sanctions against Libya. In the forefront of terrorism in the 1980s, Libya is a potential mine of information about bin Laden's group. U.S. officials say Libya has provided leads on the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an offshoot of al-Qa'eda, which opposes Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The United States also received recent intelligence from Sudan and Syria, which, like Libya, are on a State Department list of terrorist sponsors. Kusa was head of Libyan intelligence when Pan Am 103 went down, but he was never indicted in the bombing, which killed 270 people. Two low-level Libyan intelligence agents were charged in the explosion, and one was convicted this year.

    Leading Aviation Attorney Urges Trade Center Victims' Families To Be Wary of Special Government Compensation Fund

    06/10/2001 BUSINESS WIRE Attorney Broder Says Families Will Get Less; Victims' Rights Are Thwarted Says Airlines Should Face Punitive Damages to Help Prevent History From Repeating
    NEW YORK, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The new law to rescue the airline industry contains little-recognized provisions that will severely limit the right of World Trade Center attack victims' families to recover fair damages, said aviation attorney Aaron J. Broder, past president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Broder urged families of attack victims to hold off on applying for damages from the special government fund created by the law.

    Broder, who obtained a record settlement in the 1988 Pan Am Lockerbie bombing, said the bailout was hastily enacted to protect the aviation industry's financial interests at the expense of the more than 6,000 families who lost loved ones either in the destroyed towers or aboard the hijacked jetliners. The bailout creates a special fund for victims' families. But anyone who applies to it automatically waives the right to seek damages the traditional way, in court. Those applying to the special fund are likely to get far less money than they would receive in court, and it will probably take much longer than the promised four months, said Broder, who noted the following ways that survivors will lose out under the current bailout plan:

  • The minute they apply, they are forever barred from suing the airlines, airports, or anyone else in court for damages
  • They will be prevented from seeking any punitive damages, which are typically by far the largest part of an award
  • They will have no recourse to appeal their award in or out of court if they feel they have received too little from the government fund referee
  • The history of government-run efforts like this strongly suggests that victims will receive only a fraction of what a jury would award them
  • While the law appears to offer the promise of a fast payment to survivors, it is more likely to take at least a year for claims to be settled

    ``This law defeats the rights of victims,'' Broder said. ``It is an attempt by the airlines to avoid responsibility and it should not be tolerated. Moreover, victims' families are being misled to believe that they will receive large settlements because the fund is theoretically unlimited. Nothing could be farther from the truth.'' In calling for holding the airlines responsible for punitive damages, Broder said, ``There needs to be room for anger over this horrendous nightmare to be expressed in the judicial system. That's the purpose of punitive damages -- to make companies stop behaving shamefully.'' ``Punitive damages were originally established as a way of making an example, to discourage history from repeating itself. From the earlier hijackings of the 1970s and 1980s, the airlines knew of the risk yet failed to provide adequate protection. They didn't learn what history taught, and they must learn it now -- or else history will tragically repeat itself.''

    Pan Am 2001, a Reunion Commemorating the Airline and Its History, On as Scheduled Sept 27-30 in Baltimore

    19/09/2001 BUSINESS WIRE Nearly 1,500 former employees of Pan American World Airways from many nations of the world will meet in Baltimore, MD, September 27-30 to remember the airline and its place in history in what is expected to be the largest gathering in history of former employees of any corporation.

    Pan Am 2001 will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the year the airline, which more than any other airline pioneered commercial aviation around the world, finally succumbed to years of fiscal bleeding and ceased operation. Baltimore was chosen as the site for the event because it was there that the then-gigantic Martin flying boats which pioneered trans-Pacific airline routes were built. George Price, a former flying boat pilot and President of Pan Am 2001, Inc., the non-profit corporation producing the reunion, said today that the reunion will be held as scheduled, despite the tragic acts of terrorism in the U.S. last week.

    "Throughout its history, whenever there was trouble in the world, Pan Am and its people were among the first to be there to help," Price said. "From aiding victims of natural disasters worldwide, to flying in the face of danger to provide aid to the needy of the world, or making major contributions to the war efforts, our airline and its people were always front-line contributors to aiding the cause of peace and harmony all over the globe. "Pan Am itself was a victim of an earlier act of horrible terrorism, with the bombing of a 747 flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, and many of us know first-hand the pain such barbaric acts can inflict on both those directly affected and all other men and women of the world who abhor such behavior," he added.

    "But as we learned throughout history, lives must go on, and good men and women must persevere in their efforts to foster the cause of justice and peace and harmony among all races and religions and ethnic groups. That's why we have determined that our reunion should go forward. It is our hope that our gathering of hundreds of people of all colors and religions, united in celebration of a single corporation which brought us all together, united to serve the good of all mankind, can demonstrate to the world that all peoples can unite in a common goal -- peace to all the world."

    For additional information about the Pan Am 2001 reunion, for a list of scheduled activities and for registration instructions, please see the web site http://www.PanAm2001.com.

    USA Terror: Lockerbie Dad Pleas for Caution

    Reverend Mosey interviewed in Zeist16/09/2001 THE SUNDAY MAIL (UK) The father of a Lockerbie victim last night urged caution over reprisals for the attacks on New York and Washington. John Mosey, of the support group UK Families Flight 103, lost his daughter Helga in the Lockerbie disaster.

    He has written to Prime Minister Tony Blair pointing out that the 270 who died in the 1988 bombing were killed in reprisal for "aggressive" US policies in the Arab world. Mr Mosey's letter to the Premier went on: "The utmost care must be taken that whatever path is eventually pursued is successful and does not harm innocent people, thus producing another batch of terrorists. "We must find a better way of dealing with our international differences than simply picking up a bigger stick with which to beat the other guys."

    Bin Laden´s people trained around the hills of Lockerbie in 1983

    16/09/2001 THE SUNDAY MAIL (UK) The fanatical guerrillas protecting Osama bin Laden were secretly trained in remote hills in Scotland. The training camps were organised by SAS hero Ken Connor, who had to resign so the British Army would not be implicated. The killers travelled under cover to the Highlands to learn "hit and run" warfare before leading their feared Mujahedin troops. Ken Connor telles about his work with the Muslim rebels around the hills of Lockerbie in Dumfries in an interview in today´s The Sunday Mail.

    Read the entire article HERE - The Sunday Mail (Scotland). September 16, 2001

    And more.....(from PA same date)
    Relatives of those who perished in the Lockerbie bombing spoke of their shock at the events in New York and Washington. The small Scottish town, near the border with England, has become synonymous with horror after the fateful night in December 1988 when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded above its sleeping residents. In addition to the 259 who perished on the New York-bound airliner, a further 11 people died when the plane crashed to the ground. "When we in Lockerbie see those pictures, it does bring it all back," Marjorie McQueen, a local councilor, told Reuters on Tuesday. "But the scale of New York is just unbelievable."

    Her son and daughter are in the U.S. city on holiday, staying in the Staten Island district of New York city and had been due to visit the World Trade Center on Tuesday, before flying back to Britain. She said: "I was in a meeting in the town when we heard the news, and to say we were all subdued would be an understatement. "Even when I'd found out the kids were safe, I still couldn't stop shaking." Pamela Dix, whose brother Peter was killed in the 1988 atrocity, told how she endured a three-hour wait today before learning that her 38-year-old brother and his family, who live in Manhattan, were safe. Speaking from her home in Woking, Surrey, Dix, 43, told the UK's Press Association news agency: "I am speechless at the moment. This is something on a scale that none of us has experienced. "At the time Lockerbie was so mammoth, but today's events are so enormous it is staggering.

    "It brings back memories of Lockerbie and what it is like to know that someone is not coming home. "Each of the victims is a personal tragedy that may get forgotten because this is a tragedy of such a great dimension. It is so massive." Dix, who works for Disaster Action, a support group for relatives who have lost loved ones in disasters, said she has spoken to some of the other Lockerbie families. She added: "It is times like this that those of us who have experienced something similar are drawn together. "Many other people have called to offer moral support and understanding."

    The Reverend John Mosey, who lost his 19-year-old daughter Helga in the Lockerbie bombing, described the terror attacks in the U.S. as "wicked and evil." Speaking from his home in Herefordshire, the 61-year-old said he could identify with those who do not know if their loved ones are dead or alive. He told PA: "We identify with the grieving people who have been affected by these wicked and evil acts. "I am sick to the pit of my stomach and I have some idea how these people are feeling. "It is clear that both them (the casualties in the U.S.) and my daughter are victims of international political warfare. "And it seems clear that the world has got to find a better way to settle its differences."

    In Lockerbie -- at the memorial to the Pan Am victims -- Henk Vreekamp, a theologian from Epe in the Netherlands, said: "We were always going to be coming to Lockerbie, but then we heard the news and it became absolutely essential. "It was so beautiful and now it's gone. It was so high we could see the planes beneath us. I'll never forget it."

    Missing evidence prompts inquiry calls

    Dr. Jim Swire with pic of Flora12/09/2001 ITN The father of one of the Lockerbie victims is calling for a public inquiry into the disaster as claims of missing evidence casts doubt on the conviction of Libyan Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi. Dr Jim Swire, whose 23-year-old daughter Flora died in the tragedy, said the claims of a Heathrow security guard raised questions about the police investigation following the tragedy that killed 270 people. Ray Manly told police that Pan Am's baggage area was broken into on December 21, 1988, 17 hours before the airline's Flight 103 took off for New York, The Mirror newspaper reported.

    The paper said Mr Manly reported the break-in at the time and was interviewed by anti-terrorist officers the following month. But his evidence was lost, the newspaper said, and formed no part of the trial at a Scottish court sitting at Camp Zeist, Holland, which saw Al-Megrahi convicted of the bombing. Al-Megrahi has since been granted leave to appeal against his conviction. (read THE MIRROR-article further below on this page --->)

    Dr Swire said the new claims added to his continued calls for a full public inquiry. He said: "These kind of aspects not only show failures at Heathrow, they bring questions that serious mistakes have been made during the [police] inquiry. "As soon as the appeal process is over we want a full inquiry into why Heathrow didn't take full steps to protect our loved ones." Dr Swire said the fact the plane had been loaded from empty at the London airport also showed the need for the British Government to set up an inquiry to determine exactly what happened. He told the programme that he and other victims' families wanted to know if the security guard's evidence had been given to the Scottish police team that investigated the bombing. Dr Swire added: "What we are after is the whole truth."

    Dr. Swire later to the BBC: Dr Jim Swire said the new claims added to his continued calls for a full public inquiry. He said: "These kind of aspects not only show failures at Heathrow, they bring questions that serious mistakes have been made during the (police) inquiry. "As soon as the appeal process is over we want a full inquiry into why Heathrow didn't take full steps to protect our loved ones." Dr Swire said the fact the plane had been loaded from empty at the London airport also showed the need for the UK Government to set up an inquiry to determine exactly what happened. "What we are after is the whole truth," added Dr Swire

    George WilliamsAmerican reaction: On September 13, George Williams, ex-president of the American victims´ organization VOPAF 103 Inc, added his personal comment to that of Dr. Swire, through the Libya News List:
    "Poor Doctor Jim Swire. I am George Williams, immediate past-president of the American families' group. Dr Swire is obsessed with a Libyan-inspired ' US conspiracy' theory. According to this theory; the CIA planted evidence... Iran and Syria were the REAL perpetrators...etc. ad nauseum. He is delusional and in a pathetic state of mind, wholly brainwashed by Professor ( he professes knowledge beyond all the actual evidence ) Black, who by the way, is assisting the Libyan defense, no doubt with a serious amount of compensation. The Scotsman reporter who continues his anti- US campaign of lies and innuendo, is to be condemned for his reports which show his total ignorance of the results of the largest criminal investigation in history, up to that time.
    George H. Williams
    Permission to print this message is hereby granted.

    Background information:

  • More about Dr. Jim Swire and UK Families Flight 103
  • More about George Williams and VOPAF103 Inc.
  • The website of Victims of Pan Am 103 Inc.
  • The Libya News List

    New post for Lockerbie crash officer

    12/09/2001 THE SCOTSMAN Sir John Orr, who retired as Strathclyde’s chief constable in June, has been appointed deputy lord lieutenant for Dumfries. Sir John, who lives in the town, is a former deputy chief constable of Dumfries and Galloway Police and was the investigating officer in charge of the Lockerbie air disaster inquiry. He went on to take command of Britain’s second largest police force, a post in which he was succeeded by Willie Rae, who was previously the Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway.

    U.S. attack rekindles painful Lockerbie memories

    12/09/2001 REUTERS For the people of Lockerbie, no strangers to suffering and heartache, Tuesday's attack on the twin towers of New York's World Trade Centre rekindled memories some would rather have forgotten. The tiny Scottish town has become synonymous with horror after the fateful night in December 1988 when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded miles above its sleeping residents. In addition to the 259 who perished on the New York-bound airliner, a further 11 people died in their beds under a hail of twisted metal, mangled bodies and jet fuel.

    "When we in Lockerbie see those pictures, it does bring it all back," said Marjorie McQueen, a local councillor who remembers the carnage clearly. "But the scale of New York is just unbelievable." Her son and daughter were in the U.S. city on holiday, staying in the Staten Island district and due to visit the World Trade Centre on Tuesday, before flying back to Britain. "I was in a meeting in the town when we heard the news, and to say we were all subdued would be an understatement," she said. "Even when I'd found out the kids were safe, I still couldn't stop shaking." On the outskirts of the market town, in the tranquillity of the Dryfesdale cemetery, a gentle trickle of people arrived to collect their thoughts in front of the granite memorial erected to the victims, and trying to come to terms with the horror unfolding over 3,000 miles (4,800 km) away.

    "It's just so horrible," said one old lady, who did not wish to be identified, gazing out across the lush fields of southwest Scotland, turned golden by the setting autumn sun. "My daughter-in-law is in New York, but we don't know if she is alright. We just can't get through on the telephone." Pacing sombrely through the gravestones were visitors from overseas who came to pay their respects. "We were always going to be coming to Lockerbie, but then we heard the news and it became absolutely essential," said Henk Vreekamp, a theologian from Epe in the Netherlands. "I stood at the top of the World Trade Centre in January and watched the sun go down for hours just like tonight. It was so beautiful and now it's gone," Vreekamp said. "It was so high we could see the planes beneath us. I'll never forget it."

    Beside one grey gravestone sits a small Paddington Bear cuddly toy -- proof that even after the passage of 13 years, the living of Lockerbie still grieve. It will be no different for those who lost loved ones on Tuesday.
    Residents of Lockerbie, Scotland - where terrorists blew up a New York-bound airliner in 1988 - have sent letters of condolence to the mayors of New York and Washington. "We received comfort and support from America, following the Lockerbie airdisaster," they wrote. "You are in our thoughts now and in the difficult times ahead."

    Background information:

  • Lockerbie 1988-2001

    BREAKING NEWS: 4 planes hijacked and used in terrorist attack in the US !

    11/09/2001 Four commercial US-airliners have been hijacked and used as live missils in terrorist attacks throughout the USA today. Two planes hit the World Trade Center towers in New York, who collapsed in an inferno of fire and rubble. A third airliner exploded right into the Pentagon HQ in Washington. The fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Thousands of people assumed killed. Watch the horrific news at cnn.com !!!

    NB!The Internet has been very slow today due to the incidents in the US. Sorry for the late news updating, which was caused by the slowing down of internet access.

    THE MIRROR: "Our documents prove bomb could have been planted at Heathrow after break-in"

    11/09/2001 THE MIRROR (UK) PAN Am's Heathrow baggage area was broken into hours before Flight 103 was blasted apart over Lockerbie, The Mirror has found. But a statement on the incident made to police by security guard Ray Manly 12 years ago was lost and the crucial information never revealed in court. Mr Manly found a padlock cut open, leaving the way clear for a bomb to be planted in an area where luggage was ready to be loaded. The lock, which could yield clues, is also missing. Mr Manly, 63, said: "I can't believe the statement was lost. It's just incredible."

    The new evidence throws doubt on the murder conviction of Libyan Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, 49. Prosecutors said the Flight 103 bomb was flown from Malta to Heathrow. The defence said it was more likely the bomb was introduced at Heathrow. Heathrow security guard Mr Manly was stunned when his evidence of a potential bomb threat to Pan Am's Flight 103 was ignored by the Lockerbie trial. The reason was simple - a statement he made to police disappeared and his information was overlooked. As a result, neither prosecution or defence knew a break-in had taken place. Shocked Mr Manly discovered a professional had sliced through a heavy duty padlock protecting Pan Am's baggage area at Heathrow's Terminal Three hours before the doomed flight took off.

    It left the way clear for terrorists to steal a luggage tag and plant a suitcase bomb among baggage already X-rayed and ready for loading. Although Mr Manly reported the break-in, it was NOT investigated before take-off. Anti-terrorist police only questioned him about the incident the next month and never questioned him again. And, 12 years later, there is no sign of the statement or padlock which could hold vital forensic clues. The new evidence could now play a crucial role in the appeal of convicted bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohamet Al Megrahi, 49, who is serving life for the outrage which killed 270. Mr Manly, 63 - who has since been questioned for three hours by prosecutors - told a friend: "I can't believe my evidence was not part of the trial and my statement went missing.

    "A terrorist who wanted to put a bomb on that plane would have gained access to the perfect place. The luggage would not be checked again before being loaded on the plane. "Although police took a statement, I never heard from anyone afterwards. When there was no mention of my evidence at the trial I rang police who put me in touch with the defence. "They told me no one knew about my statement or the break-in. I find that just incredible. "My statement has disappeared and so has the padlock. No one can even tell me if it was tested for fingerprints. "This has been weighing on my mind for over 12 years. At last someone is taking it seriously." The Mirror has obtained copies of two sworn affidavits Mr Manly, who has arthritis, made to defence lawyers.

    They will form a key part of Al Megrahi's appeal next year. Mr Manly may be called to give evidence. The guard discovered the security breach at 12.30am on December 21, 1988, seventeen and a half hours before Flight 103 was ripped apart at 31,000ft. At the time, he was in charge of four staff stationed at numbered control posts on the public side of the airport to ensure only those authorised could enter the airside section. One control post - CP2 - was on the ground floor of the terminal, less than 50ft from the Pan Am check-in desk. It was next to the entrance to a Pan Am baggage area on the airside used for luggage too big to be processed by normal check-in procedures. There was a door in a corridor linking the check-in area and the control post. But it was never locked. A guard would be posted outside the rubber doors of the baggage entrance at all times when they were unlocked. When there were no more bags to check in, the doors would be locked and a padlocked metal bar placed across. Mr Manly, of Surbiton, Surrey, was making his rounds when he found the broken padlock.

    He said in his statement to lawyers: "Position CP2 had been interfered with. The doors were closed. "However, the padlock was on the floor to the left of the doors and had been cut through in a way which suggested bolt cutters had been used. I reported my discovery to my night duty officer, Phil Radley and stayed at the post until I could be relieved. "I did not search the area or enter into the airside through the door. No other person came to the scene. "In the area airside of CP2, baggage containers for use inside aircraft were left. Loose baggage tagged for loading on to flights would also be left. "In the check-in area Pan Am baggage labels of various types were left unsecured in desks. "I believe it would have been possible for an unauthorised person to obtain tags for a particular Pan Am flight then, having broken the CP2 lock, to have introduced a tagged bag into the baggage build up area."

    Now retired Mr Manly told his friend: "It was the most serious security breach that I came across in 17 years at Heathrow. "This was a professional job. It would have allowed an intruder direct access to the area where Pan Am bags were stored. "The bags had come from other flights and would already have been tagged and X-rayed." Mr Manly - who recorded the incident in a log book and an incident report form - reported back to his supervisor who alerted police at the airport. He was told to stay at CP2 until he was relieved two hours later. In that time, neither his supervisor or police arrived. Amazingly, Mr Manly was not interviewed by anti-terrorist police until the following month. He said: "I was interviewed by a Mr Robson who took a statement. He had the broken padlock in his possession."

    After learning that his evidence was lost, Mr Manly was quizzed in March by a lawyer from Scottish prosecutors. He said: "He wanted to know why I hadn't come forward before. I told him I'd given my evidence to police and assumed it had gone forward to the court. "No one has been able to explain why that didn't happen. "It was lucky the airport authorities were able to find the log book and incident form I'd filled in. Otherwise I doubt anyone would have believed me."

    Al Meghari was jailed for a minimum 20 years in January by a Scottish court sitting in Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. Alleged accomplice Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44, was cleared. Prosecutors claimed the Libyans placed a suitcase bomb on a flight from Luqa airport, in Malta, to Frankfurt. The case was then "interlined" on to a connecting flight to Heathrow where it was stored before being loaded on Flight 103. But Al Megrahi's defence, Bill Taylor QC, insisted there was no direct evidence of this. Instead, he said, a terrorist could have introduced the bomb at Heathrow as there would be less risk of the device being lost.

    Peter Walker, Pan Am baggage supervisor at Heathrow, told the £66million hearing six interline bags were loaded on the flight along with luggage from Frankfurt and Heathrow passengers. At the time, Heathrow did not have guards based inside the airside baggage build-up area. There was also no system to prevent unaccompanied bags being loaded on planes. At first, it was believed Palestinian terrorists carried out the attack on the orders of Iran. Suspicion fell on Megrahi and Fhimah after the CIA received information from a Libyan spy. The Procurator Fiscal's Office in Edinburgh, which brought the case, said last night: "As an appeal is pending it is inappropriate to comment."

    THE DAILY MIRROR (UK) 11/09/2001 :
    The father of one of the Lockerbie victims has called for a public inquiry into the air disaster after it was revealed evidence which is claimed could have cleared Libyan Abdelbaset Al Megrahi of the crime was lost.Dr Jim Swire, whose 23-year-old daughter Flora was killed in the 1988 blast, made the appeal after it was found that a statement from a former security guard at Heathrow Airport had gone missing. Megrahi is currently serving life after being found guilty at a trial in the Netherlands. The prosecution claimed he had been involved in placing a bomb on a flight from Malta to Frankfurt in Germany, before it was transferred to the fateful flight Plan Am 103. However the Daily Mirror newspaper has revealed that a statement by former security guard Ray Manly had been lost by investigators.

    He had noticed that a padlock protecting Pan Am's baggage area at Heathrow had been broken just hours before the flight took off. Megrahi's defence team had claimed the bomb could have been put on in London. The new evidence is likely to form part of his appeal case after it was not used during the trial. Mr Swire told Sky News: "I think it strengthens our calls for a public inquiry. We know that the flight was loaded from empty at Heathrow. This revelation asks whether a very serious mistake was made by those interviewing Mr Manly."

    Lockerbie bomber’s defence lawyers may be replaced for hisappeal

    09/09/2001 SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY (UK) Senior Scottish lawyers who unsuccessfully defended the Lockerbie bomber could be sacked after Tripoli ordered a detailed study of the trial transcripts. William Taylor QC and solicitor Alistair Duff are preparing the appeal of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi against his conviction for the 1988 bombing, which killed 270 people. However, sources close to the Tripoli regime suggest Taylor and Duff could be replaced with other senior Scottish lawyers.

    It is understood that Libyan lawyers for Megrahi are unhappy with aspects of the original trial at Camp Zeist in Holland, which ended with Megrahi’s co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhima, walking free. Sources say senior Scottish counsel are presently examining transcripts of the original trial to see if Taylor or Duff made mistakes or omissions in their preparation or conduct of Megrahi’s defence. If they discover shortcomings, Taylor and Duff will have little option but to step aside and let another team take over. It is also likely the court would be asked to consider new grounds for appeal. An insider said: "As we speak, senior Scottish counsel are examining every page of the trial transcript to see if new grounds of appeal can be added.

    "This is something that is done in many major trials and is not unique to Lockerbie. However, the Libyan lawyers have some concern about aspects of the cross-examination. "Megrahi will listen to the advice of his Libyan lawyers and if they advise him to sack Taylor and Duff that is almost certainly going to happen. "If the court is given new grounds of appeal based on the conduct of the original defence it will have little choice but to accept them." Megrahi is being held in the high-security, purpose-built prison at Zeist while preparations for the appeal are finalised. Uniquely in Scottish legal history, he was convicted by a panel of judges rather than a jury.

    Confidence is high in the defence team that the appeal - set for October - will succeed. A source said: "The big difference is that the panel of judges who heard the original case have given a written account of how they reached their decision. "That gives the defence a clearer target to go after than they would have had if a jury had heard the case."

    Background information:

  • SPECIAL COVERAGE: the new members of Megrahi´s appeal team

    Libya Pushes for End to Sanctions

    06/09/2001 STRATFOR.COM Summary: Libya recently issued a warning to U.S. oil companies, giving them one year to resume business or lose their operating licenses. Tripoli wants to pressure Washington to suspend or lift bilateral sanctions. Failing this, Libya is laying the groundwork for the expropriation of U.S. concessions and their resale to Asian, European and Russian oil companies.

    Analysis: Libya's foreign minister, Mohammed Abdel Rahman Shalgam, announced on Sept. 2 that U.S. oil companies have one year to resume operations in the country or risk losing their licenses to do so, Reuters reported. Several American oil companies still hold concessions in Libya despite suspending operations 15 years ago due to an economic embargo imposed by the United States in response to Libya's support for international terrorism.

    Tripoli's ultimatum is aimed at forcing Washington to end these unilateral sanctions. But despite pressure from American oil firms, Washington recently extended both the economic embargo and the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act and isn't likely to relent within the next 12 months. The Libyan deadline will, however, lay the groundwork for future investment by Asian, European and Russian oil firms in formerly U.S.-controlled fields.

    A day before Shalgam issued the warning, Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi announced his government wants to normalize relations with the United States. Tripoli needs U.S. cooperation in order to raise the country's investment ratings, gain loans from international lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and finally be relieved of U.N. sanctions. Libya's oil sector is ripe for development. The OPEC member's crude is very attractive to investors because it is high in quality, low in sulfur and can be produced for as little as $1 per barrel. Moreover, Libya's oil market is largely untapped, with 29.5 billion barrels in proven reserves but only 25 percent of oil and gas fields under contract.

    Investment in the country's petroleum sector has risen dramatically since 1999, when the United Nations suspended its sanctions. But although many foreign oil firms are involved in exploration and production -- including Britain's Lasmo, Spain's Repsol-YPF, Italy's Agip-ENI, Austria's OMV, Germany's Wintershal, France's TotalFinalElf and Sweden's Lundin Oil -- the scale of foreign investment remains far below Libya's expectations of more than $10 billion by 2010. To meet this goal, the government needs the United States to drop its sanctions. The embargo increases the risks -- and in turn the cost -- for other investors because U.S. companies, including finance corporations, can be penalized for any business ventures in Libya. Any foreign oil firm wishing to invest in Libya must have cash on hand for the entire operation or be wholly reliant on institutions with no American ties, and this limits investment and financing options.

    The 1996 sanctions act also allows the U.S. government to penalize foreign businesses with more than $40 million dollars invested annually in Libya's energy sector. But Washington has not followed through with such penalties due to possible political ramifications, as any action against a foreign company would increase tensions with the government in that firm's home country. In addition to the lack of investment, Libya also needs U.S. involvement in order to rehabilitate its decrepit oil infrastructure. U.S. oil firms Amerada Hess, Conoco, Grace Petroleum, Marathon and Occidental Petroleum controlled the lion's share of Libyan concessions until 1986, when they were forced that year to cease operations.

    Most important, however, Libya wants an end to U.N. sanctions. Although sanctions were officially suspended by the United Nations in 1999, they have not formally been lifted, and as long as they remain in place Libya cannot receive international financing. The government also has little chance of winning investment in non-oil sectors. The resumption of U.S. involvement would represent a vote of confidence for Libya's economy as a whole. Washington, however, isn't likely to concede to Libya's latest efforts. U.S. President George W. Bush extended the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act in August for an additional five years. The act cannot easily be abandoned because it is a key element of Washington's policy of containing nation states in the Middle East.

    The loss of oil concessions will come as a major blow to U.S. oil firms, four of which -- Hess, Conoco, Marathon and Occidental -- together produced about 400,000 barrels per day prior to 1986, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Despite the 15-year absence, U.S. oil firms are eager to return. In late 1999, executives from four such companies traveled to Libya to assess remaining assets there. Earlier this year Libya also contacted these firms to inform them that their concessions were at risk. In its eagerness to develop its petroleum sector while world oil prices are high, Tripoli is now negotiating with other international oil firms. Wintershal has reportedly already sought permission to drill in formerly U.S.-owned oil fields. Libya isn't likely to immediately resell all of the U.S. concessions, but it may parcel out one or two in order to demonstrate its seriousness.

    The one-year deadline gives both nations, and the respective oil companies involved, sufficient time to negotiate. Both of the U.S. sanctions measures against Libya come up for review periodically. In the interim Washington will try to use economic and political leverage in dealing with foreign firms and their respective governments to prevent the loss of U.S. oil concessions in Libya.

    Background information:

  • The website of STRATFOR - Intelligence for Individuals
  • More about the US sanctions against Libya and the crash of PA 103

    Better late than never: read Radio Netherlands´s ironic Lockerbie trial verdict

    06/09/2001 RADIO NETHERLANDS "I think I'm not exaggerating when I say that, on the basis of the evidence produced, it would be difficult to find anyone guilty of anything at all. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the judgement concerns the proven facts that an explosion took place, that a plane plummeted to earth, that 270 people were killed and that the explosion was caused by a bomb. Yet, having gone through the welter of lies, half-truths, mistaken recollections and prevarication offered up as evidence of guilt the Scottish judges claim to have picked 'n matched enough bits of suggestion, innuendo, circumstance and likelihood to be able to say, with confidence, that one of the two defendants is guilty and the other one not."

    Read the full article HERE !

    Lockerbie cop killed in crash

    01/09/2001 THE DAILY RECORD (UK) AN off-duty police officer died in a mystery road smash in Tayside yesterday. Lockerbie trial cop Sergeant David Connor was killed when his car left the road. The 42-year-old father-of-two, a former Marine, was on his own at the time and no other vehicles were involved. Colleagues arriving at the scene were horrified to discover the identity of the driver. Last night, devastated workmates at Tayside Police, who are investigating the incident, said they had no idea what caused the fatal crash in Arbroath early yesterday afternoon. They would not reveal any details of the accident.

    David had been with the force for 20 years and was highly respected. His dedication to the job won him a coveted place on the elite police team sent out to guard the Lockerbie accused at Camp Zeist during their trial. But he was also a well-known family man who lived with wife Lesley and young children Dale and Sarah near Arbroath. Police last night appealed for witnesses to the crash. Tayside Chief Constable John Vine said the whole force was reeling at the death. He said: "Sgt Connor was an excellent officer and a respected supervisor who will be greatly missed by his colleagues and the communities he served. "Our thoughts are with Lesley, Sarah and Dale."

    The accident happened on the B9127 outside Arbroath, where David was stationed, at around 1.30pm. His car was discovered by a passing motorist who raised the alarm. Paramedics arrived quickly, but were unable to save the officer. David joined Tayside after serving with the Royal Marines in Condor, Arbroath, for four years. Having worked as a beat bobby in Arbroath and Montrose, he spent three years in the early 90s training new recruits at the Scottish Police College inTulliallan, Fife. The experienced sergeant was picked to join a select group of Scottish police officers at the Lockerbie trial, in the Netherlands, earlier this year.

    Lockerbie bomber's appeal to be filed soon

    28/08/2001 REUTERS U.S. and British lawyers who have represented former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Panamanian General Manuel Noriega and Chilean General Augusto Pinochet will file an appeal in October on behalf of the Libyan convicted of murder in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, one of the lawyers says. Miami attorney Frank Rubino said he and the other lawyers would file the appeal on October 15 at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands on behalf of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi.

    Rubino, who represented Noriega at his trial in Miami on drug-trafficking charges, said the other lawyers handling the appeal included Plato Cacheris. Cacheris represented Monica Lewinsky during the scandal over former U.S. President Bill Clinton's relations with the ex-intern. He was also the attorney for veteran FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who pleaded guilty last month to 15 counts of spying for Moscow. Also on the team are two British Queen's Counsels, Michael Mansfield and Clive Nichols, who represented Pinochet during unsuccessful attempts to extradite him from Britain to Spain for trial on torture charges. Rubino said the appeal would focus on allegations that evidence was improperly removed from or planted at the crash site and on the judges' handling of witnesses' testimony, among other things. "We haven't written the whole appeal," Rubino said. "The collection of evidence was a very important issue."

    "Another issue was ... security at both the Frankfurt airport and the Malta airport, to determine whether, in fact, the bag had gotten on board in Malta," he said. Megrahi was linked to the bomb through the testimony of a Maltese merchant who said he sold Megrahi the clothes in the suitcase. "Part of our appeal will allege that the court took selectively certain portions and accepted it and took certain portions and rejected it and built the verdicts on that," Rubino said. The appeals team was chosen by Ibrahim Legwell, the lawyer in charge of Megrahi's defense from the beginning, Rubino said.

    Megrahi, 49, was sentenced to life in prison. The three judges who heard evidence in the trial recommended that he serve at least 20 years before being considered for release. Megrahi is still being held at Camp Zeist, and his appeal will be heard by a panel of five Scottish judges. If his appeal fails, he will be transferred to a prison in Scotland.

    Background information:

  • SPECIAL COVERAGE: the new members of Megrahi´s appeal team
    Updated (28/08) with inside informations on the new members, pictures and recent interviews, including comments from The New Republic and other news media.

    Will the full Lockerbie story ever be told?

    27/08/2001 THE SCOTSMAN LAST week, I had the privilege of sitting opposite Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, the "second accused" in the bombing of Pan Am 103, the family man and former airline station manager acquitted of the cold-blooded slaying of 270 people. Subjecting him to a kind of amateur cross-examination, it was tempting to try and sit in judgment on a case whose truths have eluded the world for 13 years. A three-day visit to Libya climaxed with three separate encounters with Fhimah, running from general chit-chat to formal tape-recorded interview to table talk that ran till midnight over aromatic Arabic coffee. While the interview was arranged by the Libyan defence team, I did my best to rattle him a little. Fhimah was found not guilty by a Scottish court of the worst case of mass-murder in Scottish history; his associate and co-defendant, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, was sentenced to life in prison.

    I did not cover the Lockerbie trial, except in talking to some of its victims on the other side of the Atlantic. But I read the verdict pretty thoroughly, and it seems to me that you could study the case for years and not be much wiser. Megrahi was convicted as the leading man of the plot to blow up Pan Am 103, a Libyan intelligence agent who assembled timers, explosives, and a Samonsite suitcase, with some clothes to fill it out. The case against Fhimah initially included exotic claims that he kept explosives for months in an airline desk drawer. But it came down that he somehow - the prosecution could never quite say how - helped put the bomb on route from Malta's airport to Frankfurt, London and the Pan Am flight. The evidence against him was reduced to puzzling diary entries, flights, and phone calls, underlining the association with Megrahi. It simply wasn't enough.

    The Libyans last week offered every welcome to me and Ian Rutherford, The Scotsman's award-winning photographer. Most visitors to Tripoli expect to be watched closely, in a country that learned a few lessons from East Germany in state control, and I dare say we were too. But we experienced every courtesy of Arabic hospitality, from the moment of our arrival to the minute of our leaving, and we abused it to the full. Fhimah welcomed us to his home with coffee, sweet pastries and fruit and I pointed a tape recorder in his face and asked him for the explanations he never gave the court. Fhimah appeared uncomfortable, even angry, when pushed to explain all the to-ing and fro-ing between Malta and Tripoli by both Megrahi and himself, treated so suspiciously in the trial. He demanded that the tape be turned off, before continuing at the urging of the Libyans' legal chief. "Let's clear this now," he said, and talked on.

    It was a sharp reminder that the right to remain silent was designed for the innocent as well as the guilty. He gave a detailed accounting of his travels and meetings with Megrahi, a friend and senior colleague at Libyan Arab Airlines. They came out of hopes that Megrahi would help him win business for his travel agency with oil companies and the Paris-Dakar motor rally, he said. They set off for Malta together, shortly before the bombing, on a flight to look at carpets: Megrahi joined him only at the last minute at the airport, calling for him on the tannoy system. "I consider myself in a period of rest after all that period of suffering," said Fhimah, on extended leave from his job with the airline, describing the decade he spent as a suspect in the case. He blamed the death of his mother on the ordeal, saying she died at the age of 63 "in good health at that time but because of psychological pressure, because of the media bias, she couldn't take it". He said the defence team made the decision for him not to testify because "there is no real evidence against me".

    The Libyan line, repeated over and over during our trip, by Fhimah and others, was that the Lockerbie trial was run by the Americans, first as a political show trial, and second as a matter of money, so that the Americans can claim billions of dollars in damages. The CIA was watching over the shoulder of Scottish prosecutors. "Sometimes we came to a point that we are afraid that the Scottish would believe the Americans because we knew the Americans they are playing," Fhimah said. "They make up stories. It's the CIA. But with the Scottish people we are very relaxed because we knew that they are looking for the truth." Certainly, the Americans have long had hang-ups about Libya: Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi is one of their black-hat bad guys of the world, along with Fidel Castro in Cuba or Iraq's Saddam Hussein. But I don't personally buy the money line, with its implication that the American families all want cash and we good Britons just want answers. Portraying the Americans as the real ones to blame, from global warming to global terrorism, is just a little too easy.

    The other line that the Libyans are promoting, however, is that we don't speak Arabic and more broadly just don't understand their world. Fhimah, the dispatcher whose job involved making sure Libyan planes departed safely, turned it into a joke. "We used to work for the crew department at Libyan Arab Airlines," he said. To laughter from those in the room, he went on: "This department used to be called 'operations department' but we found out the word 'operation' was misinterpreted so we changed the name ... when we said 'captain' to the pilots a lot of people think it was captain in the army or something." Take those trips between Malta and Tripoli, Fhima said. All very suspicious. But Malta was Libya's gateway to Europe, a close trip by ferry or plane. It was no surprise that Megrahi was stopping over for a night or two. Malta was where you went, for nappies or chocolate or carpets, when Libya was in the throes of austerity programmes to pay for Gaddafi's ambitious projects.

    But the leap of understanding is far more profound. You're chatting to one Libyan official about the American elections, in which I briefly covered the brouhaha last year in West Palm Beach. Oh yes, I agreed, wealthy part of the world, full of Jewish retirees. "Well, the Jews controlled the election," he spits out, and the glimpse of the enemy mindset - for both America and the Jews - causes you to draw breath. My last taste of Libya was buying stamps at the airport for a daughter's collection. Among Libyan traditional shoes, reptiles, birds or flowers are two special issues devoted to American Aggression, garish depictions of the bombing that killed 20 people, including Gaddafi's adopted daughter.

    In translating something approaching half a million documents, from English to Arabic or vice-versa, one of the legal terms that posed the most trouble for the Libyans was "submission" - as in "my submission", or "I submit, m'lud". A trivial detail? "Submission" also happens to be a translation of the word Islam, a religion where the faithful promise submission to the will of God. The Middle East is described sometimes as just one giant conspiracy theory, and I have had just a very small taste of it, but it is about as foreign to a Scottish courtroom as it is possible to be. We got a verdict out of the trial, but a lot of people are unhappy with it. Just how we expected to take this theatre of passion and intrigue and turn it into an episode of Rumpole of the Bailey, I do not know.

    Tim Cornwell - Monday, 27th August 2001 - The Scotsman

    Tundergarth Church is reprieved

    26/08/2001 THE SUNDAY MAIL (UK) A CHURCH at the centre of the Lockerbie tragedy has been saved from closure. Tundergarth Church, near Lockerbie, lies close to where the cockpit of the doomed jet landed. Many bereaved relatives visit each year. But there were fears it would have to close because pounds 50,000 of vital work was needed. Now local fund- raisers have collected the cash and work has begun.

    Background information:

  • Website home of Tundergarth Church in Lockerbie

    Lockerbie appeal: top lawyers put Scottish justice in the dock

    26/08/2001 THE SUNDAY HERALD (UK) THE integrity of the Scottish legal system will be put in the dock by the world's best lawyers in the heavyweight trial of the century. Lawyers who acted for Monica Lewinsky, OJ Simpson, the family of Stephen Lawrence, General Manuel Noriega, General Augusto Pinochet and world heavyweight boxing champion Hasim Rahman have all agreed to join the appeal into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber at Camp Zeist on October 15. Dr Ibrahim Legwell, the Libyan lawyer co-ordinating the appeal for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, and his team will savage the initial verdict, the conduct of the judges, and the running of the trial. He told the Sunday Herald: 'The verdict was illegal, illogical and irrational. One factor that concerns us is the independence of the Scottish judiciary from influence -- political or otherwise. We are concerned at the way in which the court was established and the way in which this allowed a form of moral interference with the conduct of the case from members of the CIA, FBI and the US Justice Department.'

    The Miami-based lawyer, Frank Rubino, who has prepared a legal opinion for Legwell entitled Retrieval Of Evidence also launched a blistering attack on the conduct of the court and the professionalism of the original police inquiry. 'I cannot understand how the judges reached a guilty verdict,' he said. 'Some judges see themselves as working for the system, rather than apart from it. Sometimes judges feel they have an obligation to convict.' Legwell today unveils his entire team of lawyers and legal consultants for Megrahi. They are: from America, Rubino, who represented General Noriega; Plato Cacheris, who represented Monica Lewinsky; the acclaimed Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who acted for OJ Simpson, and Michael Armstrong, the lawyer for Hasim Rahman.

    The British arm of the team features Michael Mansfield QC, best known for his role in the Stephen Lawrence case; Clive Nicholls QC, who acted for General Pinochet; Lord Ivor Richard QC, the former Labour leader of the House of Lords and UN ambassador for Britain; Antony Smith, the world- acclaimed Cambridge law professor; and Stephen Mitchell of Needleman-Treon. They will be aided by Julian Knowles as junior counsel. In Malta, the team includes the island's two most powerful lawyers, Mario De Marco, son of the island's president, and Emmanuel Mallia. They are joined by the Swiss aviation lawyer, Dieter Neupert. The Scottish team centres on William Taylor QC and Alistair Duff, Megrahi's solicitor. Legwell said the appeal will focus on faulty identification of evidence, the inability of the prosecution to link the bomb to Megrahi and the contamination of the bombsite by CIA officers who removed evidence from the wreckage. He says the CIA may also have planted material at the scene.

    The team will also claim that the court was influenced politically by the United States and will cite members of the American Justice Department sitting on the prosecution benches as proof of 'political interference'. 'I trust now the Court of Appeal will give justice to my client. This would not just be in the interests of Megrahi, but also of the entire Scottish people and their judicial and political system , which has come out of this very badly. ' Stephen Mitchell, who co-ordinates the British arm of the appeal, said Megrahi felt 'bitterly ashamed' that he had been wrongly convicted of the atrocity. Legwell added: 'Megrahi is suffering. His physical and mental health have declined. He has what I call an 'emotionally-induced illness'. He is under serious pressure .'

    Rubino also said he believed the trial 'facilitated the US government's control of the case'. The United Nations made similar criticism earlier this year. In his report, Rubino described police evidence- gathering as 'less than professional', adding that: 'To increase the chaos, the United States sent CIA agents on to the scene and actually compromised the evidence retrieval process by selectively removing items from the scene without recording them.' Rubino also accused the court of selecting evidence which pointed to guilt and ignoring evidence which pointed to Megrahi's innocence. 'Some judges deliberately 'back themselves' into a verdict,' he said. 'It's as if they were making a jigsaw puzzle and just used a few pieces. That gave them one picture, but if they had used all the pieces they would have seen the entire picture and that would have been very different.'

    Background information:

  • SPECIAL COVERAGE: the new members of Megrahi´s appeal team
    Updated with inside informations on the new members, pictures and recent interviews, including a new interview with Alan Dershowitz.

    On stage production of Pan Am 103 drama to play in March 2002

    24/08/2001 PLAYBILL- Entertainment News (US) In March, 2002, Women's Project is going to host Deborah Baley Brevoort's The Women of Lockerbie, directed by Yale Repertory Theatre resident director Liz Diamond. In the drama, a mother from New Jersey and her husband travel to Lockerbie, Scotland after the terrorist bombing of Flight 103 which killed their son. There they encounter the benevolent women of Lockerbie who meet an act of hate with a sense of love. Brevoort is the author of King Island Christmas, Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing, Wet Willies and Into the Fire.

    The Women's Project & Productions Theatre (formerly Theatre Four) is located at 424 West 55th Street, New York City. For reservations, call (212) 239-6200.

    Founded in 1978 by current Artistic Director Julia Miles, Women's Projects and Playwrights is a non-profit Off-Broadway theatre dedicated to the development of new plays by women.

    Lockerbie appeal gets green light

    24/08/2001 BBC NEWS (!) et al. The Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi has been granted formal leave to appeal his conviction. A spokesman for the Crown Office in Scotland said a preliminary hearing will take place in October at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. Libyan Al Megrahi, 49, lodged notice of his intention to appeal against conviction in February, and his legal advisers lodged the full grounds for the appeal several months ago. A judge sitting alone made the decision that the appeal should go ahead. The grounds for the appeal are not being made public, but Al Megrahi's defence team is likely to challenge evidence which came from Tony Gauci.

    The Maltese shopkeeper identified Al Megrahi as a man who bought clothing from his store shortly before the bombing. During the trial Mr Gauci's evidence was questioned and the defence is expected to question whether the trial judges were entitled to decide that Al Megrahi was the man who bought the clothes. Al Megrahi's lead defence lawyer Ibrahim Legwell, speaking earlier this month, said he was confident the Libyan would soon be freed.

    The appeal, which will be heard at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands like the original case, will be put before five judges who have not yet been named. It is thought the appeal will take far less time than the trial because it will focus only on the grounds put forward by the defence team and the response of the prosecution. The initial procedural hearing has been set for October 15 although the full appeal before a bench of five Scottish High Court judges is unlikely to begin before next year.

    Fhima speaks up for Al Megrahi: interview in The Scotsman

    24/08/2001 THE SCOTSMAN (UK) Lockerbie: Free my friend too *** HE IS a celebrity back home, an outwardly thoughtful, appealing and well-spoken family man. As we speak, a child dashes into his comfortable three-storey home in the heart of Tripoli and hands him a tape-recording of a poem which has been dedicated to him. He is seen, his eldest son says, as a man with a "white heart". The prosecution at his trial before Scottish judges in Kamp van Zeist in the Netherlands thought differently.

    Its lawyers believed he, along with his co-accused, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, was responsible for bombing Pan Am 103 in December 1988 over Lockerbie, and for killing 270 people in Scotland's worst case of mass murder. But, while his friend was convicted six months ago, Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was cleared. He returned to a hero's welcome. He has agreed to give his first full interview, and it is to The Scotsman. It is to last five hours and runs from his lawyer's room to his home and his local football club. He is sometimes open; often, nervous. There lingers, of course, a whiff of suspicion about Fhimah. Even as they acquitted him, the judges voiced uncertainty. They noted his trip from Tripoli to Malta two days before the bombing with Megrahi was unexplained; and pointed to his now infamous diary entry. It referred to securing airline tags - spelled "taggs" - which, the prosecution claimed, sped the bag containing the bomb on its fatal flight.

    And even the arrival of the smiling boy with the famous poet's tape-recording may be a public relations stunt. In Colonel Gaddafi's Libya, it is impossible to tell. Fhimah has agreed to speak only to push the case for an appeal for Megrahi, leave for which was formally granted at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday. The preliminary hearing is set for October. The prosecution claimed Fhimah, 44, a father of seven and a former Libyan airline manager at Malta's Luqa airport, was, because of his airline expertise, key to the plot that saw the bomb-laden Samsonite suitcase shipped from Malta to Frankfurt, London and obliteration over Lockerbie. But its arguments foundered, as did claims he was a Libyan intelligence agent, or his newly-formed travel agency was a front for Libyan agents. His defence claimed, apparently persuasively, he was an "innocent dupe".

    But Fhimah says something odd: "Whoever was planning to bomb the aircraft, he didn't know where the aircraft would come down. Scotland was involved by chance." It begs the question: how would he know that? "The Scottish people became the victims by accident. You are dealing with a plane that was flying all over the land. I know this as an airline official." Fhimah, in the interview arranged by Megrahi's Libyan legal team, says: "I am totally convinced he is innocent. I hope the appeal judges study this case carefully."

    But, for the first time, he describes in detail his movements in the days and hours before the bombing. The diary, he says, left in an office of his business partner in Malta, "was the source of all my trouble". The prosecution, he insists, took a simple reminder to bring more tags to Malta's airline manager and then made it into a conspiracy. The journey from Tripoli with Megrahi, he says, was a last-minute, spur-of-the moment affair: a you-scratch-my-back, I'll-scratch-yours trip to buy carpets for Megrahi's home. The quid pro quo: Megrahi was holding out the contract for an oil company, through his brother-in-law, for Fhimah's new travel agency. It would have been important to land it. But what about the phone call, early on the morning the bomb was allegedly dispatched, from Megrahi to Fhimah's home?

    Once again, the prosecution's suggestion that Fhimah drove Megrahi to the airport fell apart, unsubstantiated. The phone call, it was said, was too short to have been answered. Why, then, was nobody home? Fhimah, aware his wife is close by, offers only mystery. Close to midnight, in his home, he laughs it off. He was alone. He used to live in Malta. He had just flown in that night. Men do what men do. He said enigmatically: "I have a lot of friends, in a lot of places I used to visit. I don't want to go into details." Three years after this nudge-nudge episode, in November 1991, the BBC World Service broadcast the names of the two accused. He was arrested. Fhimah describes returning home from Tunis, ready to start his early shift as a flight dispatcher to find neighbours crowded outside his house and his family weeping. No-one around him thinks he was guilty. A friend stops to tell me: "How can a man, who cannot hurt a mouse, plant a bomb in a plane?'' Now it is Fhimah's mission to try to claim the same for Megrahi.

    Reuter quotes from the Scotsman interview: ``I am happy that the truth came out as far as I am concerned, and I'm innocent. I hope that the same thing will happen soon to Mr. Megrahi and I will see him back in Libya,'' the paper quoted Fahima as saying. Fahima, who was employed by Libyan Arab Airlines as station manager in Malta until a few months before the bombing, denied any links with the Libyan government and its leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who gave him a hero's welcome on his return to Tripoli. ``I have nothing to do with the government,'' he said.

    He also expressed anger toward the families of the American victims who are pursuing a civil suit in the U.S. demanding damages of $8 billion. Fahima's name is on the suit.``They should be ashamed of themselves and remove my name. I was under a court and the court gave its ruling,'' he said.

    Background information:

  • The homecoming of a free Fhima: special coverage

    Top Lockerbie lawyer spent entire summer hospitalized

    20/08/2001 AOUDE MEDIA Mr. Kamel Maghur, top member of the defence team in the Lockerbie bombing case, has been in a hospital in London since June 30. According to his family, Mr. Maghur has had a heart failure and has been in the ICU since June 30.

    Background information:

  • Official website of Kamel Hassan Maghur

    Lawyer: confident Megrahi will win appeal and go free

    08/08/2001 REUTERS The Libyan lawyer in charge of the Lockerbie bomber's appeal says he is confident his client will walk free. Dr Ibrahim Legwell spoke out after it was revealed he had hired a team of top lawyers from across the world to help prepare Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi's case. American human rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz and British QC Michael Mansfield are among the legal experts who have agreed to work behind the scenes on the appeal. A further six lawyers have also been enlisted and Dr Legwell says he is delighted they have agreed to help.

    Legwell in his office in TripoliSpeaking from London, he said: "There are definite aspects which show there has been a miscarriage of justice and I am very confident that we will be able to turn over his conviction." Professor Dershowitz is America's foremost civil rights lawyer and was a member of the legal team which helped OJ Simpson escape a murder conviction. Michael Mansfield is well known for his work on behalf of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four. Most recently he represented Barry George, who was convicted of murdering Jill Dando. Among the other western lawyers enlisted by Dr Legwell is Clive Nicholls QC, who represented the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet during his extradition hearing at the High Court.

    Dr Legwell said he expected to have further discussions with the lawyers before the formal appeal hearing, which is now expected to take place next year.

    Background information:

  • Top lawyers join Megrahi´s appeal team - SPECIAL COVERAGE 2001
    Updated news on the topic and pictures and profiles of the new team members

    Swiss Lockerbie witness accuses investigating inspectors of criminal fraud

    18/07/2001 AOUDE MEDIA "After studying the official Court documents from Kamp van Zeist we can claim today thanks to supplementary information- to uncover criminal "evidence-connections" that would clearly call for a total re-enactment of the entire trial, in order to then use a more comprehensive and new system for questioning witnesses." Edwin Bollier is back with a new report on possible errors in the Lockerbie trial.

    Read the full report from MEBO AG "Are Investigating Inspectors involved in Criminal Activities in the Lockerbie-Affair? " here !
    And a new appendix to that report (dated August 25, 2001) is available HERE

    Background information:

  • More news from MEBO on their official website.
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