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Tags Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi , Lockerbie bombing , Pan Am 103

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Old 22nd November 2010, 04:24 AM   #281
Buncrana
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Well, to be fair to Mr Gauci, perhaps memory becomes a little less confident, showing now to be somewhat vague and circumspect when the small matter of $3m is at stake. That is an improvement, given his initial recollection does not support the prosecutions assertion whatsoever. And as Vincent Vassallo testified, DCI Bell seems to certainly have had a penchant for financial inducement as a procedure for the witnesses memory to "improve" over the years from 1989 to 2000.

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Old 22nd November 2010, 05:07 AM   #282
Caustic Logic
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Well, to be fair to Mr Gauci, perhaps memory becomes a little less confident, showing now to be somewhat vague and circumspect when the small matter of $3m is at stake. That is an improvement, given his initial recollection does not support the prosecutions assertion whatsoever. And as Vincent Vassallo testified, DCI Bell seems to certainly have had a penchant for financial inducement as a procedure for the witnesses memory to "improve" over the years from 1989 to 2000.
I'm trying not to let that issue side-track things or even to bring it up, but I'll be darned if a cash prize, which it was decided would be contingent on a verdict against Megrahi, was likely at work behind the scenes in Tony's head. Because at the same time, he delivered conviction-enabling memory changes one after another. 6 foot plus becomes under 6 feet. 50 years old become under 60, well under. No holiday lights becomes maybe, they were partly up, can't recall. Umbrella rain becomes a few drops, which still conflicts with the records for 7 December, BTW. Big build, too big for a 42 size becomes middling build.

But this aside, I'd be happy to hear Bunntamas' thoughts now that she realizes that, in the repeated re-hashings of Tony's evidence she refers to, she has until now completely missed that there are such discrepancies to be concerned with.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 06:22 AM   #283
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What I think would be valuable is as complete a look as possible at what Tony said about the purchaser between September 1989 (when he was first interviewed and provided an impressive amount of detail) and February 1991, when he picked the "Czech photo" out of the photospread, but apparently merely as the picture which looked most like the purchaser of the ones shown to him on that occasion.

That's a lot of interviewing and a lot of information. Does it stand up as a likely or probable idenification of Megrahi?

Once we've got that clear, then perhaps it might be time to move on to what Tony said in 1999-2000, and how it differs from his earlier statements.

Then, I believe it would be appropriate to ask, if there is a difference between what he said in 2000 and what he said in 1989 to 1991, which is more reliable? And what might be the reasons for his story changing?

But first, we really have to concentrate on Tony's initial statements, which he himself said were clearer and more reliable than his recollection in 2000.

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Old 22nd November 2010, 06:51 AM   #284
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Oops, apologies. I thought everyone was in general agreement that Gauci's memory of the sale, nine months after it had occurred, would be considerably more reliable than any recollection made 11 years later. Therefore, his description of the buyer and the date that the sale actually occurred, was considerably more dependable in 1989 than at Zeist in 2000.

So, the question is why would someone 11 years after the fact appear so vague and contradictory from the initial statements given to investigators? Well, as would be expected of anyone, and has been mentioned already, a number of factors would be influential not least the time elapsed would inevitably result in a notably poorer memory of the details in question. This could be a quite reasonable explanation for Gauci's contradictions between statements made in 1989 and his appearance at Zeist in 2000. As could a number of other factors including the lure of a significant financial reward. So, as a response the original question posed:
Originally Posted by Bunntamas
If you were asked to describe the proprietor's height, weight, physical description in detail, a decade or more later, how do you think you would do with said description, as regards accuracy, whist sitting in front of government officials from numerous international venues, and / or whilst on the witness stand during an international trial for the murder of 270 innocents?
In these circumstances, I presumed everyone was now in agreement that it would be adversely limited and far more unreliable than any descriptions and statements made 9 months after the actual event. As quite evidently Gauci was when we compare his initial description of the purchaser of the clothing to his testimony and 'identification' of Megrahi at Zeist.

Therefore, this assertion
Originally Posted by Bunntamas
In my opinion, Gauci did a very good job of describing the purchaser, more than a decade after the events..
is discredited, as Gauci's testimony and description of date and buyer at Zeist, which we all concede is more likely to be unreliable, is in direct contradiction to the statements of date and buyer made in September 1989. And these descriptions of date of purchase and identity of purchaser do not match Megrahi nor on a date he was on Malta.

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Old 22nd November 2010, 10:32 AM   #285
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It's just a suggestion, but could we for the moment drop any reference to what Tony said at Zeist, with the possible exception of his agreeing that his memory of the sale was better in 1989 than in 2000, and that in 1989 he "told [the police] everything exactly."

What did he say in 1989 (through to the 1991 photospread interview), about the appearance of the purchaser? Could we just concentrate on that for the moment?

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Old 22nd November 2010, 04:04 PM   #286
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Here's at least the important highlights of the identification process.

In 1988 Megrahi was 36 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and looked like this (the Abdusamad photo, which seems to be a reasonable likeness when compared to other photos we have).



Tony's original description of the purchaser was given on 1st September 1989, the day he met the Scottish police for the first time, and first realised he might have information of interest to some inquiry or other.
  • Six feet or more in height
  • Big chest
  • Large head
  • Well built
  • The 42" jacket would have been too small
  • Not fat or paunchy
  • Black hair
  • Dark skin
  • Clean-shaven
  • Arab, and was speaking Arabic (which Tony spoke a little)
  • Libyan (or possibly, Arab and doesn't speak French, i.e. not Tunisian)
This is all from his first police statement. He was interviewed on a number of occasions during the next couple of weeks, and added a bit more.
  • About 50 years old
  • 36" waist
  • 16 to 17 inch collar size
On 13th September Tony produced two images of the purchaser - an artist's impression (left) and a photofit (right).



He said the artist's impression was a closer resemblance to the purchaser than the photofit. (I think they look like two different people, personally.)

The following day he picked out Mohamed Salam (left) from a photospread, and said while he resembled the man he was too young by about 20 years (Mohamed Salam was 32 years old in that picture). About two weeks later he picked out Abu Talb (right), and said he might have been the purchaser.



There were more statements and suggestions in the following months, which I'll skip for now. Fast forward to 15th February 1991, over two years later. By this time the investigation had become interested in Megrahi, which they weren't during the initial stages.

Tony was shown a photospread which included a picture of Megrahi allegedly!). There has been much criticism of this process, which I've outlined before, but I'll skip it for now. Here is the picture of Megrahi he said looked most like the purchaser of the pictures in the photospread (but was too young) - compared to the Abdusamad picture again, which is a decent likeness (right).



I have great difficulty in seeing the picture on the left as being a picture of Megrahi at all. It's a terrible likeness. But it's that likeness Tony picked as resembling the purchaser.

And there the matter was allowed to rest, for ten years. The only picture of Megrahi Tony had identified was one that didn't look like him.

However, that wasn't the only picture of Megrahi Tony saw during these ten years. Lockerbie was big news and the blockade of Libya was big news and many articles and features were published about it. Most of them with a picture of Megrahi, identifying him as the suspect.

Tony is known to have seen a number of these pictures. In fact, Paul was keeping a scrapbook of the things for him! Prof. Valentine's report lists a large number of articles with photos Tony had an opportunity to see, including one which Tony definitely had in his possession probably from December 1998 until it was taken from him only four days before the identity parade at Zeist.

During these ten years, and in particular during the months and weeks leading up to Zeist, Tony (in common with anyone else following the case) was able to learn what Megrahi really looked like. Anybody who had seen these better likenesses published in the press could have picked Megrahi out of a police lineup even if they'd never seen him before - much the same as any of us could identify someone we'd seen pictured in the papers on a number of occasions.

(And as an aside, the articles also revealed that Megrahi was 36 in 1988, not 50, and the pictures showed that he was of only average build and not especially tall.)

So, having picked out the round-faced blurry photo (left) in 1991, Tony was presented with Megrahi himself (right) in 1999. All he had to do was to decide whether to pick him out or not.



So he did.

So, of all the middle-aged-ish Arabs with a full head of black hair and no beard or moustache, what on earth about this makes us think the man Tony saw is at all likely to have been Megrahi?

Rolfe.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 05:03 PM   #287
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That b&w photo of Megrahi chosen by Gauci is indeed very odd. But I'll come back to that.

It was also noted that when Gauci eventually chose this picture out in Feb '91, it was only on a second viewing of the photo spread that he pickled picture no.8. This was the first occassion that Gauci said that his first response, in which he had given a negative response to all the photo's, was not accepted by the investigators and was asked to look again. He was asked by DCI Bell to look again "carefully and try to allow for any age difference".

Now quite clearly there are noticable differences in the blurry b&w photo of Megrahi picked out by Gauci and the passport photo Megrahi was using in 1987. In the picture Gauci was presented with, the face is considerably rounder, lips are quite different, and although the hair looks again notably different, the b&w photo lacks any definition whatsoever and really renders any conclusive comparison indiscernible. I did wonder if perhaps the 2 reflections on the ears may have been earrings, but again the quality and resolution of the photo makes that impossible.

Perhaps though, this is all simply the age processes though. Features may change slightly, weight can be added to the face and hair styles change. I've no doubt we all have photo's of ourselves from bygone years where hairstyles change with the 'look' of the time. Is the b&w photo of simply a young puppy-fat Megrahi?

But I came across this photo of Megrahi, aged 19, and certainly the clear resemblence is there from the photo in his 1987 passport, and indeed his arrival at Zeist in 2000. Hair is the same straggley, curly, but not at all afro look, and the face is long as seems a distinctive feature of Megrahi's face.





to this....




to this...




That is, undoubtedly, very strange.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 05:12 PM   #288
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We also have to bear in mind the notorious unreliability of eyewitness identifications across the board. Some of the most notorious miscarriages of justice have involved eyewitnesses who were sure they'd identified the right person, after a much shorter period of time than Tony had to cope with, but were later found to be definitely mistaken when DNA evidence was analysed.

Professor Clark gives a fairly extensive literature review dealing with eyewitness identification. He notes that there are no studies that have looked at memory retention in these circumstances over as long a period as 27 months (November/December 1988 to February 1991), but that the longest study showed accuracy falling to only 11% after 11 months.

Simply observing the mugshots, the best I believe that can be said about this aspect of the identification is that Megrahi seems to be one of a large set of men who might be said to resemble the purchaser in ways that Tony recalls (ethnicity, hair and absence of facial hair). And that Tony was willing to pick out a number of such men as "resembling" the purchaser.

However, considering the rest of the information Tony gave at the initial interviews where he wasn't pressurised, his memory was at its freshest, and nobody had any particular suspect in mind to skew his evidence, it's a different story.

36 years old as opposed to "about 50 years old".
5 feet 8 inches tall as opposed to "six feet or more".
Normal-sized head (though with quite a lot of hair) as opposed to "big head".
Normal build as opposed to "well built", "big chest" and "too big for a 42" jacket".

And once all that has been taken on board, there's the point that the day of the purchase (as evidenced by the Christmas lights, the rain, the delivery note for the pyjamas and a number of other features) was a day when Megrahi was nowhere near the shop anyway.

Rolfe.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 05:24 PM   #289
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
But I came across this photo of Megrahi, aged 19, and certainly the clear resemblence is there from the photo in his 1987 passport, and indeed his arrival at Zeist in 2000. Hair is the same straggley, curly, but not at all afro look, and the face is long as seems a distinctive feature of Megrahi's face.

Is that the photo that was on his student card when he was at the University of Cardiff? I'm slightly interested in verifying that - when was he there, what did he study, and what (if any) degree or diploma did he get?

Do you know where I can scare up any information on that?

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post

Do you think it's possible the Czech photo isn't actually him? It seems scarcely possible the defence wouldn't have challenged it if that was the case, and yet the defence seem to have missed a few rather obvious tricks in the course of this case.

I certainly can't see it as the same person, even knowing it's supposed to be, and with the better likenesses beside it. If he'd had that picture in his passport, I'd have been surprised if he'd been allowed through passport control without at least some questioning.

It does resemble the photofit from 1989, but we have to remember that Tony himself said the artist's impression was the better likeness of these images. That resemblance might have been part of why he chose it of course.

You know, there's something deeply strange about all this.

Rolfe.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 05:39 PM   #290
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Gauci had also previous to picking Megrahi, chose a number of others who also "resembled" the man he thought was the purchaser. Apart from at one point he picked Talb, Mohammed Sollem was also picked on the 14th Sep 89, as certain features matched his recollection but needed to look 20 years older, and Shukri Mohamed whom he picked on 26 Sep 89 also "resembled" the purchaser but was too young, and this person was 47. In October '89 he chose someone from a photospread whom Gauci thought again similar to the purchaser, and was "50% sure" it was also the man who had returned to the shop to buy a girls dress.

Then in Feb 91 he chose the b&w picture of Megrahi on his second look across the photospread, after first picking no one initially, as it also resembled but again was too young the purchaser of the clothing. I presume the investigators would have known when Gauci made this choice of Megrahi, his approx if not exact age and height which quite obviously would not compliment Gauci's first statements made on the buyers statistics.

Would the investigators not realise that a tailor, or at least someone who sells clothes for a living, would at least have an experienced eye for sizes and height? And therefore, just like the other photos Gauci had picked out over the 16months of various photospreads, some of the features may be similar, but once again, the age and height were entirely inconsistent with Gauci's initial recollection?

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Old 22nd November 2010, 05:46 PM   #291
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Could I put in a little request to Bunntamas?

I know it's probably a little daunting having three of us posting information while you're busy with other things, then coming back to see all these detailed posts. However, we have taken the trouble to research this in quite a lot of depth. You have previously criticised others for not being entirely accurate on some detail of the evidence. We are doing our damnedest to be as accurate as possible. Please give us the courtesy of reading our posts in detail and following what we're saying.

We know Tony said some rather different things at Zeist. He agreed that his recollection of the sale and the purchaser was much poorer in 2000 than it was in 1989, but that "in those days I told them everything exactly, didn't I?"

I rather think he did, at that time, to the best of his ability.

However, having said that, Tony then proceeded to try to back-track on the very features he'd described "exactly" back then. The age gets younger, the height decreases, the rain clears up to only a couple of spots, the Christmas lights magically appear, and Tony, the man who made his living selling clothes and knowing what sizes to pick to get a good fit for a customer, who rattled off a string of measurements relating to this customer in 1989 (far more than any of us would have been able to do I'm sure), suddenly announces that he's no good at estimating height or age or body size.

I'm sorry, but you can't discuss these discrepancies without discussing a reward offer of $4 million, and the fact that Tony had learned in the intervening years that his original descriptions of age, height and so on didn't fit the suspect.

So please, Bunntamas, don't just ignore everything we've posted and jump in announcing that Tony said such-and-such at Zeist. Look at the evidence he gave in the early stages, when his memory was fresher and untainted by hopes of earning himself a fortune, and ask if you can really say you believe Megrahi bought those clothes.

Rolfe.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 05:59 PM   #292
Buncrana
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Is that the photo that was on his student card when he was at the University of Cardiff? I'm slightly interested in verifying that - when was he there, what did he study, and what (if any) degree or diploma did he get?

Do you know where I can scare up any information on that?

It is indeed. It appears he was only at the Rumney College of Technology and Llandaff College of Technology, now called University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, for 9 months and studied a marine engineering course. (source: http://www.anorak.co.uk/?s=Abdelbase...egrahi&submit=




Quote:
Do you think it's possible the Czech photo isn't actually him? It seems scarcely possible the defence wouldn't have challenged it if that was the case, and yet the defence seem to have missed a few rather obvious tricks in the course of this case.

I certainly can't see it as the same person, even knowing it's supposed to be, and with the better likenesses beside it. If he'd had that picture in his passport, I'd have been surprised if he'd been allowed through passport control without at least some questioning.

It does resemble the photofit from 1989, but we have to remember that Tony himself said the artist's impression was the better likeness of these images. That resemblance might have been part of why he chose it of course.

You know, there's something deeply strange about all this.

Rolfe.


I certainly can't see as the same person either. I don't know what to think really. It looks less and less like Megrahi the more I look at it. And quite how picking this photo out as a resemblence, against what Megrahi actually looked like at the time, as shown in the 1987 passport photo and just as stark a difference at Zeist, and all the other age and size discrepancies given by Gauci is a 'positive identification', is utterly perplexing.

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Old 22nd November 2010, 06:02 PM   #293
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Can I try these pictures side by side?



I need to go read the court transcript to see if anyone actually did challenge that "Czech" picture as being really Megrahi.

Rolfe.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 06:10 PM   #294
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
It is indeed. It appears he was only at the Rumney College of Technology and Llandaff College of Technology, now called University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, for 9 months and studied a marine engineering course. (source: http://www.anorak.co.uk/?s=Abdelbase...egrahi&submit=

Thanks, I'll follow that up.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
I certainly can't see as the same person either. I don't know what to think really. It looks less and less like Megrahi the more I look at it. And quite how picking this photo out as a resemblence, against what Megrahi actually looked like at the time, as shown in the 1987 passport photo and just as stark a difference at Zeist, and all the other age and size discrepancies given by Gauci is a 'positive identification', is utterly perplexing.

I honestly hadn't noticed this point before. I thought they'd used the Abdusamad passport photo for the 1991 photospread. (I was already quite convinced by the rain and the Christmas lights and the differences in height, age and body shape that it wasn't Megrahi anyway, I hadn't really looked at the photos and presumed Tony had in fact picked out one that was a reasonable likeness.)

Why didn't they use the Abdusamad passport photo? Didn't they have it?

I place no weight at all on Tony picking Megrahi out at Zeist. The whole world knew what Megrahi looked like by then. Hey Mr. Gauci, just point to this man and salve your conscience by just saying he "resembles" the clothes purchaser, and you're on the gravy train for life.

Nice work if you can get it.

Rolfe.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 06:21 PM   #295
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Ah, there we go.



It's better at that resolution I think.



This is nuts.

Rolfe.
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Old 23rd November 2010, 02:28 AM   #296
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Interesting stuff, for sure, much of which I didn't know. Like the old ID, and thanks for showing the whole image. I'm starting a blog post about it now. Hope you guys don't mind me sucking up some of what you've done here. Still absorbing it too...

So far I'm still over by where I was after trying in Photoshop. I can't rule out these all being the same guy, but I'm not convinced it is either.

Just to add one thing, I stumbled across this in Marquise's book, p. 142
Quote:
Giaka had looked at the Czech passport picture identified by Gauci. He said it was Megrahi when he was much younger.
I hope that wasn't their corroboration. It was already shown to Gauci. Was it Megrahi at that time, or just a guy with a fro? I really don't want or need yet another wrinkle like that. My word, it's insane enough already. But it seems a valid question.

Elsewhere in the book:
p 203 "Picture number eight was Megrahi." No explanation there. No explanation I found about when and how they got it, and wwhat info came with. But here's a gem of a passage:

p 127-28, on a mid-1991 conference

Quote:
Henderson discussed the photo spread leading to the Gauci identification of Megrahi. Although no one could positively date the photograph shown to Gauci, he was reluctant to show any more photos without fear of tainting what he had already provided. Henderson opined the reason Megrahi had purchased the clothing when he seemed to be a high ranking intelligence officer was because he wanted to be sure no one else knew what was happening. We did not know if this was true, but was a possibility.

He next spoke of Bollier...
That's bad. If you know where it's from, and cite your sources, as a scholar or investigator. They can't date it, Giaka vouched for it, shows a teenager at his prom, looks like to me. Gauci said it would have to be "ten years older" to match his 50-year old buyer. Is that a change just between '89 and '91? The buyer was perhaps already younger, perhaps about Megrahi's age.
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Old 23rd November 2010, 02:26 PM   #297
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Look at it from Gauci's point of view: Inspector McKnacker shows him a photospread apparently of 12 men in their thirties - photo no. 8 is very grainy, but it would be natural to assume that its subject is the same age as the other eleven. As we know, Gauci has been adamant all along that the man was about 50. According to DI Scicluna,

Quote:
“.. Gauci started examining the photographs and the first thing he said was that
they are all too young. It was explained to him to allow for age discrepancy as the
man he saw could be 10-15 years older. Here he looked at me and in Maltese said
‘Bring me that newspaper. He is similar’. (witness referring to a photograph in
British Sunday Times - see statement 4677O). During this time Gauci had already
stopped at photograph No 8 which was the photo of Mr Megrahi. Gauci then
looked through them and again stopped at Baset’s photo and indicating it he said
‘This is similar, but it is maybe 10-15 years younger”.
So, at least according to Scicluna, Gauci was told that the age discrepancy could be 10-15 years, and he accordingly compares no. 8, assuming him to be in his thirties, with the 50-year-old man he has seen, and says, yes, he is similar. (Though he also says Abu Talb is more similar.)

But (the records show) McKnacker has been fretting about the fact that the grainy photo of Megrahi is 12 years old, so he hears Gauci saying yes, Megrahi aged 24 would look like the customer, if he were 10-15 years older. Result!

I can't resist giving the bad practice another mention here (apologies to Rolfe and CL who have pointed it out countless times.) Megrahi's picture was noticeably worse in quality than the rest of the lineup: isn't that saying 'we had to include this one because he's our suspect'? Then there's the instruction to look again allowing for the age of the photo, saying in effect, 'our suspect is in the spread, and it's a 10-15 year old picture' - maybe that old and knackered-looking one at no. 8? And there's the presence of several investigators at the identification: what's the likelihood that someone betrayed through his body language when Gauci was looking at the suspect. (Scicluna for one could tell when he was doing so.)

The mind boggles, on all four cylinders.
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Old 23rd November 2010, 02:45 PM   #298
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Tony Gauci had picked out photos in previous spreads in almost exactly the same terms as he picked Megrahi on 15/2/91. Yet this time DCI Bell treated it as significant. His reasoning:

Quote:
The SIO agrees we have a partial identification on
the person named Abdelbaset considering all of the circumstances, namely
(1) He arrivedin Malta on 7th December '88. This was the date of the purchase of the clothing.
(2) He resided at the Holiday Inn Hotel, Sliema, which is within several hundred yards of the shop premises.
(3) He travelled to Switzerland on 9th December 1988. He is known to Bollier, the person who supplied the IED timer.
(4) He was involved in the company known as ABH on behalf of the Libyans. This company was set up to deal with contact with the MEBO company, Mr Bollier's firm.
(5) He has a resemblance to the original photo fit and artist's impression.
(6) There is NO reason 6.
(7) The SIO advises that Bollier has now been shown the photofit and he states that if the hair was shorter then it would indeed look like Abdelbaset, also if it was 10 to 15 years older.
(8) The SIO also advises that the photograph we have of Abdelbaset is in fact 12 years old. He is a smart dresser, plenty of jewellery and there is no recollection of the watch according to Bollier and he is taller
than Bollier at 5 foot 9 inches. Gauci thinks 6 foot tall."
In (1) and (2) Bell is using circular logic. Paul Gauci's statements show that he cannot choose between 23/11 and 7/12; if anything 23/11 is slightly more probable, he says at one point, but only on the basis of football fixtures. Bell decides that he'll take it as 7/12 anyway, as that's when Megrahi was on Malta. Now the date seems to have become an established fact he can use to back up Tony's equivocal identification.

As has been pointed out, (3) and (4) are of no significance. Many people dealt with Bollier, and Megrahi wasn't involved in the only Libyan purchase of MST13's.

(5) is true up to a point, of the artist's impression if not the photofit. But it's also true of very many other people. And Gauci said the sketch made the man too young.

(7) is true, but as I've said, that's almost certainly not what Gauci was saying. It's just that McKnacker wasn't listening to him.

In (8) Bell skates over the height difference (4in, not 3in as he says). If a guy who sells clothes says a man is 6ft, he's 6ft. Again, McKnacker isn't listening.

That leaves us with reason 6.

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Old 23rd November 2010, 03:47 PM   #299
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Quote:
But (the records show) McKnacker has been fretting about the fact that the grainy photo of Megrahi is 12 years old, so he hears Gauci saying yes, Megrahi aged 24 would look like the customer, if he were 10-15 years older. Result!
Just to double-check, since you used "knackered" as an adjective as well - this is a fictional cop, not a real one, right? I wasn't sure, and first read that as a photo OF a 12-year old, which sounded only a bit further off than Tony's opinion the guy in the photo was "in his 30 years." I'd forgotten that above suggesting a change on his part. If he thought this, then by ten or 10-15 years older, that's about right.

If the photo was about 10 years younger than that ("in his twenty years"), as it looks to me and Giaka, then magically, the "result" you mention is achieved and the suspect's age has changed - Tony could be said to have given a sign that the buyer was al Megrahi's approximate age, rather than middle-aged.

Quote:
Megrahi's picture was noticeably worse in quality than the rest of the lineup: isn't that saying 'we had to include this one because he's our suspect'? Then there's the instruction to look again allowing for the age of the photo, saying in effect, 'our suspect is in the spread, and it's a 10-15 year old picture' - maybe that old and knackered-looking one at no. 8?
I had the same thought. Three big questions in fact are the hair styles of the other 11, their ages, and the photo quality. If they're including this one despite its low quality when the others are normal looking, would he be left noticing it more, seeing the big hair, wondering why it's there, looking like a teenage Mullah Omar type character - "is this some elusive terrorist they could only find this sort of picture of? He must be very mysterious, and I could help catch him! He might be the same guy the newspaper said was the bomber - either one, this guy and that guy both look like him a decade back..."

One picture WAS apparently a decade old, the other wasn't, so another side-effect - Abu Talb's been ruled too young while al Megrahi is a better fit by this little shell game, even though they're about the same age.
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Old 23rd November 2010, 03:53 PM   #300
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Above was to Pete2, as is this

Quote:
(6) There is NO reason 6.
Seriously? Where is that from? Hadn't see it yet.

It's an amazing list of all the wrong reasons to accept a managed misreading and mangling of eyewitness evidence. No way do Henderson and Bell not realize this is improper as they're doing it.

You've got some very interesting insights here. Thanks.
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Old 23rd November 2010, 06:29 PM   #301
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
They can't date it, Giaka vouched for it, shows a teenager at his prom, looks like to me. Gauci said it would have to be "ten years older" to match his 50-year old buyer. Is that a change just between '89 and '91? The buyer was perhaps already younger, perhaps about Megrahi's age.

CL, only America has "proms", the like of which you speak. Certainly in the 1960s. And even now, I'd take a large bet this is not part of Libyan culture.

It's a passport photo.

As to age, I don't think it's possible to tell. The quality is so poor that all the little detail such as wrinkles and crows' feet that give clues as to age are wiped out. It's not an old man for sure, but it's not at all impossible that it's someone in his 30s.

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Old 23rd November 2010, 06:35 PM   #302
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Just to double-check, since you used "knackered" as an adjective as well - this is a fictional cop, not a real one, right?

Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
No way do Henderson and Bell not realize this is improper as they're doing it.

Hmmmm. I was copied into an email sent by Jim Swire after he returned from Libya last month. In it he said that Megrahi is very very bitter against Harry Bell. I was a bit surprised, because I was seeing Cannistraro and even Marquise as the fit-up villains. But it's Bell Megrahi apparently blames to a large extent for what happened to him. I suppose it was Bell who pushed and pushed for the identification of Megrahi as the clothes purchaser, and without that there would have been no conviction.

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Old 23rd November 2010, 06:44 PM   #303
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Gauci had also previous to picking Megrahi, chose a number of others who also "resembled" the man he thought was the purchaser. Apart from at one point he picked Talb, Mohammed Sollem was also picked on the 14th Sep 89, as certain features matched his recollection but needed to look 20 years older, and Shukri Mohamed whom he picked on 26 Sep 89 also "resembled" the purchaser but was too young, and this person was 47. In October '89 he chose someone from a photospread whom Gauci thought again similar to the purchaser, and was "50% sure" it was also the man who had returned to the shop to buy a girls dress.

Do you have a source for the pictures of these individuals? It's instructive to realise just how many men Tony picked out as "resembling" the purchaser. In that respect, Megrahi was only one of several. I'm not sure, but I think he picked someone out of virtually every photospread, as the man most closely resembling his memory of the purchaser, of the pictures presented at that time.

Megrahi was just one of half a dozen or so men identified in this way, and no doubt if Bell had gone on showing him photospreads of clean-shaven Arab men with big hair, he'd have picked out even more.

There was no particular reason to follow up Megrahi compared to the other picks, except he was someone they thought they could make a case against.

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Old 23rd November 2010, 07:13 PM   #304
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Interesting stuff, for sure, much of which I didn't know. Like the old ID, and thanks for showing the whole image. I'm starting a blog post about it now. Hope you guys don't mind me sucking up some of what you've done here. Still absorbing it too...

Well, just don't say it's a "prom picture". It's a passport photo. And you can't tell what age the subject is.

Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
So far I'm still over by where I was after trying in Photoshop. I can't rule out these all being the same guy, but I'm not convinced it is either.

It's impossible to say for sure it's not him, particularly as the defence don't seem to have challenged it. The eyes are sort of the same. The real killer is, we have a picture of Megrahi at 19 and one of him at 35, and the path from one to the other really doesn't seem to include anything resembling the "Czech photo".

Maybe he was on high-dose prednisolone at the time? Or he had mumps? Or was deliberately distorting his face for some reason?

The hair is another oddity though. Whenever Megrahi has allowed the front of his hair to grow long-ish, it's always the same. We see it at 19, at 35 and at 47, the same curls flopping on to his forehead. Yes, when he has the front of his hair short (as in recent 2008 photos, and in the 1993 Maltese Double Cross interview) it's not there. But in the Czech photo there is more hair than in any of the others, and these characteristic curls are simply not there.

On balance, I don't think it's him.

But then again, whether it is or isn't, is not really the point. Tony Gauci, in 1991, picked out a photo which is not actually recognisable as a picture of Megrahi. Dammit, we have a decent picture of what Megrahi must have looked like at the time Tony is supposed to have seen him, and it's nothing like the picture Tony said "resembled" the purchaser!

Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
It was already shown to Gauci. Was it Megrahi at that time, or just a guy with a fro? I really don't want or need yet another wrinkle like that. My word, it's insane enough already. But it seems a valid question.

Giaka said it was Megrahi, only a younger photo? No, that can't be all of it. They must have had some fundamental reason for thinking they had a pic of the right guy....

Quote:
Henderson discussed the photo spread leading to the Gauci identification of Megrahi. Although no one could positively date the photograph shown to Gauci, he was reluctant to show any more photos without fear of tainting what he had already provided. Henderson opined the reason Megrahi had purchased the clothing when he seemed to be a high ranking intelligence officer was because he wanted to be sure no one else knew what was happening. We did not know if this was true, but was a possibility.

Well, of course they're not going to show him a better photo in case he says, no not that guy.

As you say, if nobody could date it, what does that say about its provenance? Was Giaka the only one who was certifying it as even being Megrahi's picture? This gets more surreal by the minute.

And yes, it's odd that a high-ranking intelligence officer would buy the clothes for the bomb. Didn't they have an errand boy? But it's even odder that the same high-ranking intelligence officer who had to show his undisguised face at Luqa airport where he was well known, on the morning of the bombing, and for no obvious reason, would also make the very conspicuous and memorable clothes purchase.

He's got this impenetrable plan to smuggle the bomb on to KM180, which is so clever it will never be discovered how that was done and indeed no trace of the bomb will ever be found on the island - so he decides to blow it all by making a very memorable purchase of new, traceable clothes only three miles away, in person. And at the same time he sets the timer so ridiculously early that a crash on land is close to guaranteed (if it doesn't just go pop on the tarmac).

Yeah, right.

Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
shows a teenager at his prom, looks like to me.

Quit that. It's a passport photo, that much is obvious. And there simply isn't the resolution to estimate age other than that he's not a child or geriatric. And they don't have "proms" in Libya.

Rolfe.
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Old 24th November 2010, 05:42 AM   #305
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Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
But (the records show) McKnacker has been fretting about the fact that the grainy photo of Megrahi is 12 years old, so he hears Gauci saying yes, Megrahi aged 24 would look like the customer, if he were 10-15 years older. Result!
Just to double-check, since you used "knackered" as an adjective as well - this is a fictional cop, not a real one, right?
CL - My apologies, I was being a bit parochial there. 'Inspector McKnacker' is a generic term for the Scottish police in the UK satirical magazine Private Eye. I was first made aware of the holes in the case against the two Libyans by the writings of the late Paul Foot in the Eye. He, notably, attended the whole of the trial and wrote the pamphlet Lockerbie - the Flight from Justice.

Quote:
Quote:
(6) There is NO reason 6.
Seriously? Where is that from? Hadn't see it yet.
The list of 'reasons' is quoted on p.102 of the Grounds of Appeal. In that document reason (6) is just an ellipsis - I don't know whether it was omitted for some reason from the Grounds of Appeal, or was redacted from Bell's diary before handing it to the SCCRC (hey, maybe it's a reference to the sooper-sekrit evidence! )

Pete
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Old 24th November 2010, 05:51 AM   #306
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Just found the Grounds of appeal was the source for the Scicluna passage above as well. So much that hasn't made it into public awareness but did get included in the reasoning for why the conviction should be overturned. An amazing document that one.

I almost forgot I should say that I finally finished an adequate post of the Czech photo issues.

ETA: Not one instance of "prom." Just got stuck on that image, imagining it to be a bit of humorous "color" for this bizarre episode.

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Old 24th November 2010, 06:02 AM   #307
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Hmmmm. I was copied into an email sent by Jim Swire after he returned from Libya last month. In it he said that Megrahi is very very bitter against Harry Bell. I was a bit surprised, because I was seeing Cannistraro and even Marquise as the fit-up villains. But it's Bell Megrahi apparently blames to a large extent for what happened to him. I suppose it was Bell who pushed and pushed for the identification of Megrahi as the clothes purchaser, and without that there would have been no conviction.

Rolfe.
It's that darned police diary. Right in there are recorded so many egregious lapses of investigative protocol - the "reasoning" Pete brings to our attention above, the decision that Megrahi's presence on 7 December in fact means that was the date, actual clues aside. Whatever else... I'm not sure he's any more complicit than someone else of his rank or position, but his diary in particular lets you see it.

Beyond Malta, Bell was involved with the Indian Head forensics tests, his log of it standing in for Feraday's, who, despite organizing the tests and building all the bombs used, didn't record the findings himself.

And Bell was tasked with refuting the German BKA's ST33 report on the Khreesat "ignition devices." Found their report indicating a London introduction full of "speculation." So he was a bigwig who was all across the board in this across-the-board shady investigation.

ETA: Side-note - I take the continued silence from Bunntamas' end as a good sign that she's actually considering something new, or just coincidentally caught up in something else at just that moment. No drive-by pot-shots at side-issues or anything. That's good - I was getting annoyed at waiting for an answer to any of my few relevant questions. Now that we can all see she wasn't even aware of the questions' existence, despite the asking, we can stop waiting for an answer to any of them anytime soon, and continue our own discussions.

Talked to death? Not by a long shot. Unseen new shoots of life sprout from nearly every line of inquiry one chooses to follow.

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Old 24th November 2010, 06:14 AM   #308
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Well, quite apart from any contribution Bunntamas may make, I'm glad we're having this discussion. There are aspects to this "identification" that are even more shocking than I had originally realised, and I'm glad to be getting my brain round it a bit more.

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Old 24th November 2010, 06:39 AM   #309
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Just to try to clarify things re that photograph of Megrahi, used in the February 1991 photospread: Bell says he's been told the photo is 12 years old, which would date it as around 1979 I suppose, so it would show Megrahi aged about 26 (not 24 as I said earlier - I forgot to allow for the two years between the purchase of the clothes and the photospread - not that it makes any difference.)

Rolfe, CL and Buncrana, I agree it doesn't look very much like the other pictures of Megrahi, whether older or younger, but I suppose it wouldn't be the first time that a photograph was an extraordinarily bad likeness of its subject. DCI Bell blames the Americans for rushing into the photospread before a good picture could be obtained, but also notes that they blame the Scots:

Quote:
meeting with Special Agent Reid. He tried to imply that we were rushing showing the photograph spread. ....they were the ones that wanted it done before Bollier left the USA. (Grounds of appeal p.101, ellipsis in original.)
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Old 24th November 2010, 07:15 AM   #310
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On one hand, I'd dearly love to know whether that picture is really Megrahi or not. Yes, there are some god-awful passport photos in the world, but I have a lot of trouble believing he ever looked like that, given the appearance of all the other photos we have of him. In 1988, when we know he looked like the Abdusamad photo, I seriously believe he should not have been allowed to travel on a passport with the Czech photo in it.

On the other hand, whether it's actually him or not is a side-issue. It doesn't look like him, as he was in 1988. Megrahi in 1988 looked like the Abdusamad photo. If what walked into Gauci's shop in 1988 was Megrahi, then someone who had a good memory of him should specifically not have picked that "Czech" photo as resembling the customer!

[mode=CT]
One thing which is striking about the Czech photo is its resemblance to the photofit Tony constructed in 1989. I've seen people put these together and say, look, it's obvious the purchaser was Megrahi.



Is it possible that someone, in early 1991, could have airbrushed or digitally manipulated a real photo of Megrahi to make it resemble that photofit, and so encourage Tony to pick it out?
[/mode]

OK, I realise that's a serious piece of kite-flying, but in a case this weird and with credible suspicions of evidence-tampering in other respects, I just wanted to say it.

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Old 24th November 2010, 12:01 PM   #311
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post

[mode=CT]
One thing which is striking about the Czech photo is its resemblance to the photofit Tony constructed in 1989. I've seen people put these together and say, look, it's obvious the purchaser was Megrahi.

http://www.b5-dark-mirror.demon.co.uk/photofit.jpg http://www.b5-dark-mirror.demon.co.uk/m-czech.jpg

Is it possible that someone, in early 1991, could have airbrushed or digitally manipulated a real photo of Megrahi to make it resemble that photofit, and so encourage Tony to pick it out?
[/mode]

OK, I realise that's a serious piece of kite-flying, but in a case this weird and with credible suspicions of evidence-tampering in other respects, I just wanted to say it.

Rolfe.
I had a slightly different scenario running around my head, but essentially what your suggesting without the altering of the Czech photo.

I suppose we won't, and never will probably, know if at any point previous to Gauci picking out the 'Czech' picture of Megrahi in Feb '91, if the passport photo of Abdusamad was ever shown during all the photospreads he was asked to look over from Sep '89?

Never picking out the Abdusamad photo of Megrahi from 1987 obviously, because Gauci didn't recognise it as the purchaser, and indeed, it certainly didn't bear any similarities to the photofit or artists impression produced through Gauci's own description and memory. Not like the 'Czech' photo though, which does show some slight resemblance to the photofit and the hair matches the artists impression..

Despite a tenuous identification by Gauci, to compound the investigators further, and latterly Gauci, the rest of his initial recollection of size, height and age were wholly inconsistent to the man in the Czech photo, Megrahi. Not too mention the small issue of the day and date the purchaser entered the shop. These other forms of 'identification' originally given to investigators would however become increasingly contradictory, confusing and vague.

It'd be interesting to know when the investigation first came across the Abdusamad photo, (I think this was the one eventually used in the $4m Rewards Adverts taken out in the newpapers) and even if it were not known to the investigation until after Gauci's 'identification' of the Czech photo, why wouldn't they present him with the photo relevant to the time he claimed Megrahi entered his shop, 1988, with a view to him confirming the identification of the Czech photo and the Abdusamad 1987 photo, as still bearing a true resemblence or likeness?
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Old 24th November 2010, 04:58 PM   #312
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I suppose we don't know when they got hold of the Abdusamad picture. Seems bizarre they wouldn't have used it if they had it....

Robert Black points out (by email) that Megrahi was involved in every aspect of his appeal, and would surely have said something if that photo wasn't him. Which is a very fair point. And there were some pretty regrettable hairstyles going around in 1978, why should he have been exempt?

That doesn't, however, detract from the sheer lack of resemblance of that photo to Megrahi as he was in 1988. I can't believe nobody made a big deal about this in court.

Rolfe.
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Old 26th November 2010, 03:27 AM   #313
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I was wondering about the collar size part.

Looking at the two pictures I juxtaposed above (the photofit and the Czech photo), the diameter of the necks is markedly different. Tony made a point of saying the customer was a 16 or 17 inch collar size. Is that big, guys? Would it fit with "burly" or whatever?

It's not a huge point, because Tony picked out a number of photos as resembling the customer which showed unremarkable neck sizes, including the Czech photo. But he did spontaneously give that collar size estimate at an early stage, and the photofit and the artist's impression both have quite thick necks.

If Tony said that was the customer's collar size, I would be inclined to think he would be right about that.

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Old 27th November 2010, 10:52 PM   #314
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I was wondering about the collar size part.

Looking at the two pictures I juxtaposed above (the photofit and the Czech photo), the diameter of the necks is markedly different. Tony made a point of saying the customer was a 16 or 17 inch collar size. Is that big, guys? Would it fit with "burly" or whatever?

It's not a huge point, because Tony picked out a number of photos as resembling the customer which showed unremarkable neck sizes, including the Czech photo. But he did spontaneously give that collar size estimate at an early stage, and the photofit and the artist's impression both have quite thick necks.

If Tony said that was the customer's collar size, I would be inclined to think he would be right about that.

Rolfe.
It seems that my neck measures about 14" around. I'm 6'3," not exactly a pencil neck, but close. 17" collar on a guy about 6'1" would be a pretty well-built dude. Sounds almost like the description of someone who, despite what he said at Zeist, has experience with height and build and probably even age. Not to mention whether it was raining, dark and gloomy or glowing with Christmas cheer, etc...

So to accept Tony's identification of Megrahi one has to presume he was wrong on everything relevant, which should leave one wondering what made his pointing to this odd photo at one point so amazingly meaningful as to underwrite that acceptance.
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Old 28th November 2010, 05:55 PM   #315
Bunntamas
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Yawwwn... Baybygros were purchased as well. Whattaya think the neck size were on those? Hmmm... six foot baby? LOL! What's next in your CTs? a 15-17" neck size on a baby sleeper? LOL!!! Who says Megrahi was purchasing all of the things at Mary's House for himself? What's the average size and variety of stuff (much less an umbrella - for which you all, much less the "official" JFM cannot get your / their story straight) necessary for wrapping around a bomb and to stuff into a suitcase and make it look like it's good enough to pass security? DUUUUUUHHHHH!!!!

Last edited by Bunntamas; 28th November 2010 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 28th November 2010, 08:42 PM   #316
Caustic Logic
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Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
Yawwwn...
What's that the result of? Up all night and morning catching up on some the most basic facts of the case? Doesn't sound like it.

Quote:
Baybygros were purchased as well. Whattaya think the neck size were on those?
17 inch is a description of the NECK on the reasonably built buyer, not anything with the clothes. Please if you must perpetrate another drive-by duh-bunking, you could try to either slow down or keep your tires on the pavement. Otherwise you will skid out of control like this:

Quote:
Hmmm... six foot baby? LOL! What's next in your CTs? a 15-17" neck size on a baby sleeper? LOL!!! Who says Megrahi was purchasing all of the things at Mary's House for himself? What's the average size and variety of stuff (much less an umbrella - for which you all, much less the "official" JFM cannot get your / their story straight) necessary for wrapping around a bomb and to stuff into a suitcase and make it look like it's good enough to pass security? DUUUUUUHHHHH!!!!


You've never been able to explain any of your previous bizarre ramblings, but this one takes the cake. You just misunderstood what the neck measurement referred to, but darned if you'll ever confess to that little weakness.

Again - It was the measurement he guessed looking at the buyer's neck, as a man experienced in height and build, who also felt the man was at least six foot tall, more burly, older, darker, with different hair, and a different date of presence on Malta from Megrahi. Please don't even bother trying to keep up. It's clearly hopeless. Let my nastiness be your escape clause and save us all some time.

Last edited by Caustic Logic; 28th November 2010 at 08:47 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 29th November 2010, 05:59 AM   #317
Caustic Logic
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Hey, before I nod off, a quick sorry. I don't really mean to bust up any actual chance of constructive discussion where both sides listen to each other. I just wasn't able to see one at the moment. I lost the faith for a bit there. Of course we're all learning from each other here.

Bunntamas: I agree with you that a six foot baby suit would be ridiculous, and if 17" collar had referred the bought clothing, this says nothing about the buyer by necessity. Do you in turn acknowledge that as a description of the buyer's estimated collar size, it is relevant to the buyer?

Do you agree further that there IS a legitimate discrepancy between Tony's earliest description of the purchaser and al Megrahi? 6" or more, for one point. Do you agree that Tony's first statement says that? You've never asnwered anything I've asked of you, including this simple point your last words about were asking Rolfe where we learned it from, and we've told you. Have you learned it yet?

Give us a sign or something, please.
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Old 29th November 2010, 10:07 AM   #318
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Quote:
Tony made a point of saying the customer was a 16 or 17 inch collar size. Is that big, guys? Would it fit with "burly" or whatever?
Corresponds to 44-46 inch chest - this agrees with Gauci's estimation that a 42in jacket would be too small. So yes, definitely burly.

Bunntamas, this has nothing to do with any item that was actually purchased from Mary's House: Gauci made this point at the same time as he was maintaining that the man didn't buy any shirts. He was just commenting on the actual size of the customer.

Pete
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Old 29th November 2010, 12:15 PM   #319
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Well, quite apart from any contribution Bunntamas may make, I'm glad we're having this discussion. There are aspects to this "identification" that are even more shocking than I had originally realised, and I'm glad to be getting my brain round it a bit more.

It seems Bunntamas thought I was dismissing her contribution to the thread, in this remark.

Nothing was further from my intention. I was merely trying to convey that I found this topic worthwhile for its own sake, whether or not Bunntamas (who had requested the discussion) chose to contribute.

I find it worthwhile because it is leading me to realise that Tony Gauci's "identification" of Megrahi is even shakier than I had previously believed. I had thought he had picked out a picture which was a reasonable likeness of Megrahi, in February 1991. I now realise the picture the police chose to show him that day actually looked nothing like Megrahi himself, and that the police chose not to show him a picture which was a good likeness.

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Last edited by Rolfe; 29th November 2010 at 12:18 PM.
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Old 29th November 2010, 01:17 PM   #320
Rolfe
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Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
Yawwwn... Baybygros were purchased as well. Whattaya think the neck size were on those? Hmmm... six foot baby? LOL! What's next in your CTs? a 15-17" neck size on a baby sleeper? LOL!!! Who says Megrahi was purchasing all of the things at Mary's House for himself? What's the average size and variety of stuff (much less an umbrella - for which you all, much less the "official" JFM cannot get your / their story straight) necessary for wrapping around a bomb and to stuff into a suitcase and make it look like it's good enough to pass security? DUUUUUUHHHHH!!!!

Bunntamas, I wish you'd slow down a little and approach this logically. You don't seem to be following the discussion.

Yes, we know the mystery shopper bought a babygro (just the one). He asked Tony what age the garment would fit, and on being told up to two years, said he would take one. We are not suggesting the customer was two years old.

We know the customer bought an umbrella. We know that umbrellas are essentially one-size-fits-all.

That doesn't alter the fact that Tony believed the customer was buying some (or possibly most) of the clothes for himself.

Originally Posted by Tony Gauci
He asked for a gents jacket and when I asked him for his size he then asked for the biggest size which was size 42. [....] I would say that the jacket was too small for him.

On picking out the trousers I asked him what size and he said more or less my size.

It is thus entirely understandable that Tony mentally estimated the measurements of the customer. He seems a little surprised that the man was buying things that wouldn't have fitted him, apparently not really caring about fit.

So when he was asked about the purchaser, nine months later, his most detailed information was in respect of the man's vital statistics and body shape.
  • Six feet or more in height
  • Big chest
  • Large head
  • Well built
  • The 42" jacket would have been too small
  • Not fat or paunchy
  • 36" waist
  • 16 to 17" collar size
  • About 50 years old
Pete2 seems to confirm that the estimate of 16 to 17" collar size supports the assertion that the man was noticeably hefty, burly or well-built.

Which Megrahi is not, nor ever has been.

This was Tony's first description of the purchaser, when he was first asked to recall the sale of these clothes. When his recollection would have been at its freshest.

It differs from Megrahi in several significant respects. He is five feet eight inches tall, of average build, and was 36 years old in late 1988.

Rolfe.
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