Sudan President Omar al-Bashir meeting revolutionary leader Khaddafi of Libya
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'It is time to put right the wrongs'
EVIDENCE against the Lockerbie bomber was fabricated and manipulated on both sides of the Atlantic, according to leaked defence documents which appear to undermine the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.
Investigators for Megrahi claim to have compelling new evidence of widespread tampering with evidence, missing or overlooked statements, and a concerted attempt to lead investigators away from the original Iranian-backed suspects and towards Libya.
Hundreds of new documents and photographs examined by Scotland on Sunday appear to show many aspects of the Lockerbie prosecution were at best incompetent and at worst amounted to an attempt to pervert the course of justice.
Last night, legal experts and families of the victims reacted with astonishment and outrage to the revelations. Jim Swire, whose daughter died in the disaster, said: "Scottish justice obviously played a leading part in one of the most disgraceful miscarriages of justice in history. The Americans played their role in the investigation and influenced the prosecution."
Megrahi, who was convicted in 2001 of the murder of 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing, will learn on Thursday whether his case will, as expected, be sent back to court by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC).
Megrahi was convicted for the December 1988 bombing on crucial evidence that he bought items of clothing packed into the suitcase containing the bomb and that he was closely associated with the firm that made part of the bomb timer. Evidence that a fragment of bomb timer was implanted in a shirt sealed Megrahi's fate.
But the defence papers to the commission, seen by this newspaper, appear to undermine that chain of evidence. Among the key findings are:
• Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper who sold the clothes to the bomber, gave two earlier statements in which he identified convicted Egyptian terrorist Abu Talb;
• Gauci gave earlier statements saying he did not sell a shirt to the man but six months later remembered selling shirts and the price;
• Two of Gauci's statements are missing altogether;
• A babygro said to have been wrapped around the bomb and shown to the court blown to pieces was recovered intact, according to a statement from the woman who found it;
• A manual for the Toshiba radio containing the bomb was in pieces when shown to the court but was intact when recovered, according to statements from mountain rescuers;
• The discovery of the all-important shirt containing the bomb timer fragment was recorded in May 1989 by a UK forensic scientist and in January 1990 by German investigators. Examination of forensic records shows a "new" page on the discovery was inserted into the record of evidence.
• The same Slalom shirt was in a different condition when shown to the court than when photographed by German investigators.
The defence team believes it was necessary in 1990 for the prosecution to alter evidence, for political reasons. The Gulf War meant it was essential to keep Iran onside and Libya became a suitable scapegoat. Investigators switched from the current known suspects, a Palestinian terror group, the PFLP-GC, and Abu Talb, an Egyptian currently serving life in Sweden.
While the main perpetrators appear to have been CIA officers, according to the defence papers, there is also damning evidence suggesting police officers and other investigators took part in preparing false evidence.
It can also be confirmed today that a former senior Scottish police officer, who worked at a high level on the Lockerbie inquiry, has given statements to the SCCRC in which he is understood to support claims of planted evidence.
A document seen by this newspaper reveals the officer - codenamed "Golfer" - believes "labels and productions from the locus have been interfered with". Golfer also reveals there was no "investigative or operational" reason for the inquiry to switch the inquiry to Libya.
Last night, retired MP and Lockerbie campaigner Tam Dalyell said: "It is time we tried to put right the wrongs that have been perpetrated. This was the most high profile trial internationally that there has ever been, and the conduct of it and the verdict were simply outrageous."
Last updated: 23-Jun-07 00:59 BST