[Marxism] US bribe to Lockerbie witness?

Louis Proyect 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 
unwanted attention".

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 
prosecution case.

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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