Daily Report from Camp Zeist
11th January 2001
This morning defence submissions began following intimation by Bill Taylor, acting for the first accused, that he did not object to the amendments made by the Crown to the indictment. Later in the morning Richard Keen, for the second accused concurred.
Bill Taylor then began his submissions and outlined the issues he would be referring to as;
The averments in the indictment had not been supported by the evidence;
Legal Issues relating to acting in concert;
Chapter 15 evidence;
The forensic evidence, especially that relating to the location of the explosive device; Luqa, Frankfurt and London Heathrow Airport baggage systems and the failure to prove that the unaccompanied suitcase with the improvised explosive device was introduced at Luqa Airport in Malta, and the quality of evidence against Al Megrahi and in particular that of Gauci, Bollier and Majid Giaka.
He began by inviting the judges to delete the description of Badri Hassan as a member of the Libyan Intelligence Services and said that there had been no evidence to support this claim. There was also no evidence, he said, to support the claim that the first accused had been a member of the Libyan Intelligence Services at the time of the bombing.
The submission then dealt with a legal issue stating that evidence against each accused should only be considered in the context of their co-accused if their acting in concert had been proved. If concert is not proved then the evidence against each accused must be considered separately. This means that unless the judges conclude that the accused were acting in concert, Fhimah's diary could not be considered in relation to the first accused.
He then moved to the interview of Salinger with the first accused. Referring to legal authority he said that false contradiction could not act as corroboration. This was in reference to Al Megrahi's denial at this interview that he had been in Malta on the relevant dates in December 1988.
The submission was essentially that the PFLP-GC had both the motive and the means to be responsible for the Lockerbie bombing and that they did not choose their targets randomly. He referred in some detail to the evidence which supported this submission and began with that relating to their knowledge of US flights, that they had access to Luftansa luggage labels, that there is not decisive evidence that the timers found during the Autumn Leaves investigation differ from the MST-13 timers, that there was evidence that Mebo supplied MST-13 timers to people other than Libya and that there was evidence that Abo Talb was linked to the bombing. He said that the evidence showed that there was a link between the PFLP-GC and the PPSF. He said that the evidence indicated that there was a web linking Malta, Sweden and PLFP-GC cell in Neuss. Concluding this part of his submission, he said that before the court could find the accused guilty of the bombing it would be necessary that they conclude that the PFLP-GC involvement was irrelevant.
The submissions continued with a consideration of the forensic evidence. Taylor said the court could not conclude that a barometric instrument had not been contained in the explosive device. He made reference to the fact that debris was found over a very wide area including the North Sea but that not all debris had been recovered. In connection with this he said the evidence demonstrated that there has been interference with some of the productions used in the trial. This included reviewing the evidence which related to the finding and examination of fragments of timer circuit board by RARDE. He suggested that the court have some hesitation before accepting the provenance of this item.
The submissions will continue this afternoon.
This afternoon the court heard submissions from Bill Taylor, for the first accused, relating to the location of the suitcase containing the explosive device on board PA 103. He said that the Crown had not proved the location of the suitcase in container AVE 40/41. The four main points made were:
First that Professor Peel's calculations do not locate the centre of the charge;
Peel's calculations are consistent with the suitcase being located on the base of the container;
the debris suggests that the case was located on the base of the container, and
that there is a third way the suitcase could have been located on the base so that the centre of the charge was in the position suggested by the prosecution.
Evidence which had been led that related to these points was referred to by Mr Taylor to support the above points. He said the crown had not demonstrated that the suitcase could not have been contained on the base of the container.
The location of the suitcase is relevant to the inference of where the suitcase was originally introduced. Baggage container AVE 40/41 had contained luggage from more than one source. He said that even if the court accepted that the suitcase was not on the base of the container, it does not allow an inference of the origin of the bag as witness evidence had indicated that luggage was routinely repositioned in baggage containers when necessary.
Taylor said that Luqa Airport would not be a desirable place to introduce an unaccompanied bag because the airport organisation would make this difficult. He said that evidence had explained that the number of bags to be loaded on a flight were checked with the number that had been checked in at Luqa Airport. Evidence had shown that even in instances where the discrepancy in these figures was as little as 2, this was investigated. As a consequence the Crown submission that discrepancies of 5 or less in the number of bags were ignored at the airport should be rejected. He went on to say that the number of bags on board the flight to Frankfurt matched the passenger check- in record. His submission was that there was no evidence to support the Crown's inference that the suitcase was introduced at Luqa Airport.
The submissions will continue tomorrow.