[Marxism] US bribe to Lockerbie witness?
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Oct 3 06:49:31 MDT 2009
US paid reward to Lockerbie witness, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi papers claim
Scottish detectives discussed secret payments of up to $3m made to
witness and his brother, documents claim
Two key figures in the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber were secretly
given rewards of up to $3m (£1.9m) in a deal discussed by Scottish
detectives and the US government, according to legal papers released today.
The claims about the payments were revealed in a dossier of evidence
that was intended to be used in an appeal by Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the
Libyan convicted of murdering 270 people in the bombing of Pan Am flight
103 in 1988.
Megrahi abandoned his appeal last month after the Libyan and Scottish
governments struck a deal to free him on compassionate grounds because
he is terminally ill with prostate cancer. Now in hospital in Tripoli,
Megrahi said he wanted the public to see the evidence which he claims
would have cleared him.
"I continue to protest my innocence – how could I fail to do so?," he
said. "I have no desire to add to the upset of many people I know are
profoundly affected by what happened in Lockerbie. My intention is only
for the truth to be made known."
The documents published online by Megrahi's lawyers today show that the
US Department of Justice (DoJ) was asked to pay $2m to Tony Gauci, the
Maltese shopkeeper who gave crucial evidence at the trial suggesting
that Megrahi had bought clothes later used in the suitcase that
allegedly held the Lockerbie bomb.
The DoJ was also asked to pay a further $1m to his brother, Paul Gauci,
who did not give evidence but played a major role in identifying the
clothing and in "maintaining the resolve of his brother". The DoJ said
their rewards could be increased and that the brothers were also
eligible for the US witness protection programme, according to the
The previously secret payments were uncovered by the Scottish Criminal
Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which returned Megrahi's conviction to
the court of appeal in 2007 as a suspected miscarriage of justice. Many
references were in private diaries kept by the detectives involved,
Megrahi's lawyers said, but not their official notebooks.
The SCCRC was unable to establish exactly how much the brothers received
under the DoJ's "reward-for-justice" programme but found it was after
Megrahi's trial and his first appeal in 1992 was thrown out.
A memo written by "DI Dalgleish" to "ACC Graham" in 2007 confirms the
men received "substantial payments from the American authorities".
The inspector claims the rewards were "engineered" after Megrahi's trial
and appeal were over, but said there was "a real danger that if [the]
SCCRC's statement of reasons is leaked to the media, Anthony Gauci could
be portrayed as having given flawed evidence for financial reward."
Instead, he claimed, the reward was intended to ensure the Gaucis could
afford to leave Malta and start new lives "to avoid media and other
However, the documents disclose that in 1989 the FBI told Dumfries and
Galloway police that they wanted to offer Gauci "unlimited money" and
$10,000 immediately. Gauci began talking of a possible reward in
meetings with Dumfries and Galloway detectives in 1991, when a reward
application was first made to the DoJ.
The evidence, which was due to be heard by the appeal court next month,
also discloses that Gauci was visited 50 times by Scottish detectives
before the trial and new testimony contradicting the prosecution's
claims that Megrahi bought the clothes on 7 December 1988 – the only day
he was in Malta during the critical period.
In 23 police interviews, Gauci gave contradictory evidence about who he
believed bought the clothes, the person's age, appearance and the date
of purchase. Two identification experts hired by Megrahi's appeal team
said the police and prosecution breached the rules on witness
interviews, using "suggestive" lines of questioning and allowing
"irregular" identification line-ups.
Two new witnesses also disproved the prosecution claim that Megrahi was
in Gauci's shop on 7 December, his lawyers said. Gauci said the area's
Christmas lights were not on when the clothes were bought. The current
Maltese high commissioner to the UK, Michael Rufalo, then the local MP,
told the SCCRC the lights were switched on on 6 December, raising
further inconsistencies in the prosecution case.
It has also emerged that Scottish police did not tell Megrahi's lawyers
that another witness, David Wright, had seen two different Libyan men
buying very similar clothes on a different day; evidence that
psychologists believe may have confused Gauci and again clouded the
Dumfries and Galloway police said only a court could properly consider
this material, and supported previous criticism of Megrahi's decision to
release his appeal papers by Elish Angiolini, the lord advocate. "We
will not be taking part in any discussion or debate concerning the
selective publications made by Mr Megrahi," a statement said.
"We have nothing more to add other than to echo the lord advocate's
recent comments pointing out that Mr Megrahi was convicted unanimously
by three senior judges and his conviction was upheld unanimously by five
judges, in an appeal court presided over by the lord justice general,
Scotland's most senior judge. Mr Megrahi remains convicted of the worst
terrorist atrocity in UK history."
A spokesman for the US Department of Justice also refused to comment,
since Megrahi had voluntarily withdrawn his appeal. He said: "None of
the allegations in the SCCRC referral, or the grounds of appeal filed by
Megrahi, were finally adjudicated by the Scottish High Court of Justiary
(the appropriate judicial forum) because Megrahi withdrew his appeal
before the court could rule. Consequently, the U.S. Department of
Justice will not comment further on his aborted appeal."
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