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Lockerbie: Megrahi not the bomber, says book

The reconstructed remains of the Pan Am Boeing 747 jumbo jet that exploded over Lockerbie in 1988. Picture: Reuters

The reconstructed remains of the Pan Am Boeing 747 jumbo jet that exploded over Lockerbie in 1988. Picture: Reuters

  • by EDDIE BARNES
 

THE bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie was loaded on to the plane at Heathrow, not Malta, a new book on the tragedy claims.

To coincide with the 25th anniversary of the atrocity in which 270 people lost their lives, the book – written by a supporter of the man convicted of the bombing, Abdelbaset al Megrahi – claims prosecutors overlooked reams of forensic evidence as they sought to prove the bomb originated on an Air Malta flight to Frankfurt.

That led to the conviction of Megrahi, who died in Libya last year after being freed from Greenock Prison on compassionate grounds by the Scottish Government in 2009.

Dr Morag Kerr, the secretary-depute of the Justice for Megrahi committee, claims there is “irrefutable evidence” that the bag containing the bomb was planted in London. Her findings are presented in a new book, Adequately Explained by Stupidity? – Lockerbie, Luggage and Lies.

Sceptics of the Megrahi conviction last night claimed the book “destroyed” the Crown’s case against the Libyan, the only man convicted of the crime.

Dr Kerr’s book is based on what she calls “detailed analysis” of forensic records which she says were not examined by prosecutors in the original trial.

Together with a fresh search of baggage records, witness statements and police memos, she claims it was “simple” to prove the bag containing the bomb was loaded into an aluminium baggage container at Heathrow.

She says her claims are corroborated by Heathrow handler John Bedford, who recalled that a brown Samsonite suitcase had appeared at the left-hand corner of the container after he returned from a tea break.

However, prosecutors said in court that a connection to Malta was proven through the large amount of blast-damaged clothing – bought and made on the island – which was in the bag which contained the bomb.

Megrahi was convicted unanimously by three senior judges following his trial in Camp Zeist, a decision which was then upheld unanimously by five judges in the Appeal Court. Before being allowed to return to Libya after his diagnosis with prostate cancer, he made the decision to discontinue appeal proceedings.

Dr Kerr, a vet who joined the Justice for Megrahi campaign in 2010, insisted: “I have proved the bomb originated at Heathrow.”

She added: “We convicted Megrahi on evidence that wouldn’t support the issuing of a parking ticket, imprisoned him 1,800 miles from his home and family and turned him into an international hate figure while he was in the terminal stages of aggressive prostate cancer.”

She said a new independent inquiry should be set up.

“There is irrefutable evidence the bomb was in a suitcase seen at Heathrow before the feeder flight from Frankfurt landed,” she said. “Megrahi was nowhere near the place at the time and could not possibly have had anything to do with it. The Lockerbie investigation was horrifically bungled thanks to stupidity, carelessness and tunnel vision.”

However, a Crown Office spokesman said: “The evidence of John Bedford, a baggage handler at Heathrow, was rigorously tested during the trial and subsequent appeal. The theory set out in this book was rejected as speculation by the court.”

He added: “The only appropriate forum for the determination of guilt or innocence is the criminal court, and Mr Megrahi was convicted unanimously by three senior judges. His conviction was upheld unanimously by five judges, in an Appeal Court presided over by the Lord Justice General, Scotland’s most senior judge.”

The findings are now with Police Scotland, which is continuing to study evidence into the case, nearly a quarter of a century after it took place.

 
 
 

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