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

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Old 7th July 2010, 05:40 PM   #201
Rolfe
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For comparison, here is the court list of the actual blast-damaged items recovered on the ground. All but the umbrella and the cardigan had bits of radio and/or suitcase blasted into them, several also had bits of babygro.
  • white cotton Abanderado t-shirt
  • brown check Yorkie trousers, size 34
  • grey Slalom shirt
  • blue pin-strip Slalom shirt
  • light brown herringbone Yorkie trousers
  • brown herringbone tweed, consistent with Anglia jacket
  • cream pyjamas with a brown striped pattern
  • brown woollen Puccini cardigan
  • black nylon umbrella
  • Thirteen very severely damaged fragments, many extremely small, of blue fibrous material. One fragment consisted of two overlaid pieces of material, one being a blue fibrous material and the other being knitted white ribbed material. Between these two pieces there was trapped the remains of a label printed in different colours containing information about age, height, composition and “made in Malta”. This composite fragment matched closely in all significant respects the labelled neck section of a Babygro Primark brand. The material of the other fragments also matched the material of the same brand.
This is the first time I've made this list (I started but didn't finish earlier). There are a few surprising features.

First, the confluence with what Tony said he sold is uncanny. The bolded items are all things mentioned by Tony, apparently spontaneously, in that very first statement.

Originally Posted by Tony Gauci
  • three pairs of pyjamas, large size
  • Anglia tweed jacket size 42
  • brown check Yorkie trousers size 34
  • lighter brown trousers size 36
  • blue babygro size 2 years
  • black umbrella
  • cardigan, large size

The only things missing are the two Slalom shirts (which Tony decided he did sell to the man after all, much later, after several denials), and the t-shirt, which he stocked, but never claimed he sold to that purchaser. Tony has in fact managed a 100% match from his end - every single thing he mentioned in that first interview matches an item found at Lockerbie. (There were other fragments found that couldn't be identified, but Tony hasn't listed anything that wasn't identified.)

Is this for real? It's possible Tony is almost an idiot savant, to have such amazing recall of the details of a purchase made months earlier, after a busy summer season had come and gone. He even remembers how much the man paid, and the change he gave, though that can't be verified.

Now these cops knew which clothing had been found. They could have prompted him a bit, making suggestions, but it seems too good for that. Tony Gauci, memory man, seems actually the most parsimonious explanation.

Which actually says quite a lot about the rest of his story. If he was that good on the items bought, why doubt what he said at the same time about the purchaser?
  • Libyan
  • very black hair
  • clean shaven
  • six feet or more in height
  • big chest and large head
  • not fat or paunchy
  • the 42" jacket would have been too small for him
  • smart, with a dark suit (possibly blue)
The age wasn't given at that time, but appeared a couple of weeks later after he'd been playing photo-identification with the police.

Some of this fits Megrahi. He's Libyan, has black hair (don't they all?), and is clean-shaven. He's been seen looking smart in a blue suit, too. However, the specifics don't fit at all. Height, out by at least 4 inches. Build, completely wrong. Megrahi never looks too big for a 42" jacket. And although the age doesn't emerge until a couple of weeks later, Tony is pretty consistent that the man was at least fifty. Megrahi was 36.

The experts all agree that the earliest description is most likely to be correct. And if Tony really did manage such a startling strike rate on the clothes, what possible reason is there for believing that his description of the purchaser was so wildly out?

Rolfe.
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Old 7th July 2010, 05:52 PM   #202
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The other surprising feature is just how shredded the babygro actually is. "Thirteen very severely damaged items, many extremely small." I can see why they decided it was wrapped round the bomb, there was hardly anything left. It's surprising that was the item they started looking for, when there wasn't much more than a label and some small bits of rag. But the label said "Made in Malta".

This is the item the mountain rescue team are adament they found intact on the moor.

But bits of the babygro were found blasted into the t-shirt and the check Yorkie trousers.

OK so the entire bloody boiling of it could have been substituted by items produced at Indian Head. But Indian Head happened, and the Scottish cops (including Crawford) examined the fragments, before anybody walked into Tony Gauci's shop.

Does anybody really want to argue that Tony was making all that up to order, to correlate with material already planted within the evidence? Because that boggles my mind 100%.

Rolfe.
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Old 7th July 2010, 11:25 PM   #203
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
That's excatly the suggestion that Megrahi's defence team seemed to be implying during the SCCRC's investigation. Perhaps, it was one of the 6 reasons, two of which were not made public by the SCCRC, for referring the case back to appeal in 2007?


Forensic mix-up casts fresh Lockerbie doubt


It also seems on the conclusion of the SCCRC's 3 year long investigation, they themselves had identified that on closer scrutiny "the evidence heard at the trial", in conjunction to the clothing, but not the radio or MST fragment, was core to their decision to determine there may well have been a "miscarriage of justice".
NOW I see what Rolfe was saying. This is right up my alley and I hadn't heard about it yet. I'm reviewing the article, and it sounds compelling. The support of the SCCRC'sfindings would be a huge boon, so first I looked at the SCCRC's findings. Seeming to contradict that, their 28 June 2007 PR (the only SCCRC document I know where to find) says for "Main grounds that were rejected by the Commission:" some submissions "sought to challenge the origin of various items which the trial court accepted were within the primary suitcase,”including “a babygro” (as well as the Slalom shirt, Yorkie trousers, and Toshiba manual).
Originally Posted by SCCRC
“Underlying each of them was a suspicion about the conduct of the investigating authorities who, it was alleged, had manipulated, altered or fabricated statements, productions and other records in order to make out a case against the applicant. The Commission conducted extensive investigations into each of the allegations and is satisfied there is no proper basis for any of them. The allegations were further undermined by records recovered by the Commission from the Forensic Explosives Laboratory."
http://www.sccrc.org.uk/ViewFile.aspx?id=293

5.0 Grounds of referral, four points, all relate to Gauci's ID. I'm not clear how the points in this doc relate to the stated six grounds. Is this the six minus the two they didn't publish? They area terse lot. "Please note: no further comment will be made by the Commission on the case."
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Old 8th July 2010, 04:40 AM   #204
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
NOW I see what Rolfe was saying. This is right up my alley and I hadn't heard about it yet. I'm reviewing the article, and it sounds compelling. The support of the SCCRC'sfindings would be a huge boon, so first I looked at the SCCRC's findings. Seeming to contradict that, their 28 June 2007 PR (the only SCCRC document I know where to find) says for "Main grounds that were rejected by the Commission:" some submissions "sought to challenge the origin of various items which the trial court accepted were within the primary suitcase,”including “a babygro” (as well as the Slalom shirt, Yorkie trousers, and Toshiba manual).

http://www.sccrc.org.uk/ViewFile.aspx?id=293

Yes, I think Buncrana has got a little confused, by taking what that article said as fact. The article seems to have been reporting on the claims Megrahi's lawyers were making, but these were claims the SCCRC didn't uphold.

The problem with that appeal, and what probably contributed to its taking so long, is that the lawyers seem to have adopted a blunderbuss approach of taking every point where the slightest doubt had been cast, and presenting it to the SCCRC as grounds for appeal. Lawyers do this, and I know why they do it. In defence cases, it's simply to "cast doubt". If you can make the whole thing look hazy and uncertain and questionable, you may get your client off, even if the individual doubts aren't particularly well-founded. (This probably applies a lot more to juries than to judges mind you.)

This seems to have given the SCCRC one helluva job, having to re-investigate every angle. It's what probably kept Megrahi in jail these extra few years. I don't blame the lawyers for having a crack at the timer and the radio model, because these anomalies actually stand up to scrutiny, but without additional evidence (such as whether it was actually possible for the paper manual to have survived as claimed) it was very unlikely the SCCRC would take the very serious step of supporting an allegation that RARDE investigators had deliberately falsified evidence.

However, the clothes are a different matter. I feel a bit of a prat, not having compared the two lists earlier. Once you do that, you have to explain Tony's strike rate. How is it possible that Tony managed to give a list of purchases, on that very first visit, which correlates so well with what was found on the ground? We have nothing to suggest any earlier visit from the detectives; it appears they went to the Yorkie manufacturers, were given "Mary's House" as a possible retail outlet to try, and just showed up.

I find it impossible to imagine any scenario in which Tony was coached to say any of that. There were two Scottish detectives there, who seem to have been genuinely following a lead, plus Godfrey Scicluna to keep it proper with the local coppers. There's a limit to how much leading of the witness you can do in this situation, especially if you don't have a pre-determined game plan, which I can't see any sign of the detectives having.

It's also difficult to see how the evidence could have been selected at the other end. This happened after the Scottish detectives had been to RARDE to examine the blast-damaged clothing, and made a list of the items they thought had been in the suitcase, and photographed them from every angle. That list as presented in the court judgement must have been fairly firm even at that stage. There has to be a pretty tight limit on the amount of massaging you can do to get it to match the list Tony came up with on 1st September. I don't think it's possible.

Given that Tony really seems to have remembered the purchase of the actual clothing, spookily improbable though all this is, we then have to ask what possible objective there could be in any of that having been fabricated. I agree there may be a question mark over the Slalom shirts, because he had to be coached into saying these were included in the purchase, but for the items he remembered at that first interview, no.

Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
5.0 Grounds of referral, four points, all relate to Gauci's ID. I'm not clear how the points in this doc relate to the stated six grounds. Is this the six minus the two they didn't publish? They area terse lot. "Please note: no further comment will be made by the Commission on the case."

As far as I can see, Gauci checks out as having genuinely identified clothes which were genuinely found at Lockerbie (against my expectation, I have to say). Accepting that, it gets pretty pointless to start trying to allege tampering with the clothes evidence (except possibly as it relates to the Slalom shirts).

However, accepting that, it also suggests that his first descriptions of the purchaser were probably as accurate as the list of clothes. That is to say, pretty good. This leaves us with the fact that subsequent interviews, suggestions, leading questions, inducements, bribery and so on, caused Tony to indicate Megrahi was the purchaser when he quite clearly wasn't.

This is the aspect the SCCRC finally homed in on, quite correctly in my opinion, and it's the aspect we probably need to move on to discuss.

I feel a lot better about this part of the case now, because it's becoming clearer. It's still hellish weird, but the weirdness is at least quantifiable.

Rolfe.
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Old 8th July 2010, 07:04 AM   #205
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I think I was confusing the SCCRC's conclusion that "the evidence heard at the trial", in repect of the clothing, was primarily relating to Gauci's evidence of identification and date of sale of the clothing, and not the clothes as presented at Zeist. Although, there was the two other reasons for recommending megrahi's case back to appeal that were never released.

Six grounds were determined, and four made known;
  • Reasonableness of the courts verdict of 7th Dec as date of purchase
  • Evidence not revealed re: Christmas lights in Sliema
  • Gauci identification after seeing photograph of suspect
  • Other evidence regarding Gauci (not specified, but suspected to be $2m payment).

As far as I know, the final 2 grounds, are still not conclusively known.

Just a quick point about the Babygro. I was under the impression that the babygro that was discovered by the mountain rescue searchers, was the initial piece which led to Malta, long before Mary's House had been established, bearing the label "Malta Trading Company". This first visit and inquiry by the Scottish Police, with an initial possible connection to Malta, had proved fruitless after they discovered that this Babygro had been distributed to dozens of outlets throughout Europe. Another label, bearing the name "Yorkie Trading company 0005", had been discovered in the chequered trousers, thought to be around the bomb, but remained a complete mystery despite the visit to Malta already, and presumably no one had thought to ask about this company "Yorkie" during this first visit making inquiries about the babygro.

It was only when the BKA released their Feburary report with the Erac printout, that Bell narrowed down his search for the Babygro for those outlets on Malta itself which had received a delivery of this piece of clothing. On Bell's return to "Malta Trading co", he happened to spot another factory within the same small industrial estate named "Yorkie Trading" when Mary's House showed up as having taken delivery of both these items.

At this stage however, despite Gauci's initial description of the man being of "Libyan appearance" it seems everyone was still hot on the trail of the PFLP, and Talb, as they were known to have a cell in Malta who were on the island operating under the guise of a bakery and Talb had been a frequent visitor to Malta in the months before 103's bombing.
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Old 8th July 2010, 03:41 PM   #206
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
I think I was confusing the SCCRC's conclusion that "the evidence heard at the trial", in repect of the clothing, was primarily relating to Gauci's evidence of identification and date of sale of the clothing, and not the clothes as presented at Zeist. Although, there was the two other reasons for recommending megrahi's case back to appeal that were never released.

Six grounds were determined, and four made known;
  • Reasonableness of the courts verdict of 7th Dec as date of purchase
  • Evidence not revealed re: Christmas lights in Sliema
  • Gauci identification after seeing photograph of suspect
  • Other evidence regarding Gauci (not specified, but suspected to be $2m payment).
As far as I know, the final 2 grounds, are still not conclusively known.

Yes, that's basically it. Tony sold the clothes that were in the bomb bag, pretty much as a job lot, but not on 7th December, and not to Abdelbaset Megrahi.

Tony and Paul between them were paid $3 million (2 for Tony and 1 for Paul) for their trouble, and now live a luxury lifestyle in Australia on the proceeds. On top of the earlier bribery of Giaka to implicate Megrahi and Fhimah in the affair, this does not look good.

Case collapses.

Do they need the other two grounds? Maybe not, but it would appear the SCCRB thinks there is more that should be tested in court. It would be interesting to know what. It would seem to relate to the PIIC document, which is quite well attested as relating to the MST-13 timer issue. It's likely to relate merely to the assertion that only Libya had access to these timers, rather than to any doubts about the provenance of the fragment though.

Without the Gauci evidence, which was essentially down the pan, there wouldn't be a conviction anyway, and that's about the end of it.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Just a quick point about the Babygro. I was under the impression that the babygro that was discovered by the mountain rescue searchers, was the initial piece which led to Malta, long before Mary's House had been established, bearing the label "Malta Trading Company". This first visit and inquiry by the Scottish Police, with an initial possible connection to Malta, had proved fruitless after they discovered that this Babygro had been distributed to dozens of outlets throughout Europe. Another label, bearing the name "Yorkie Trading company 0005", had been discovered in the chequered trousers, thought to be around the bomb, but remained a complete mystery despite the visit to Malta already, and presumably no one had thought to ask about this company "Yorkie" during this first visit making inquiries about the babygro.

That's pretty much as I understood it too. It can't be quite the right narrative though.

We imagine a recognisable babygro with "Made in Malta" on its label, because we hear about the mountain rescue team handing in an intact garment. However, it was nowhere near intact; it was a handful of shreds with a label preserved between two layers of material.

What I think may have happened is that even though this was the most heavily damaged item, the label happened to be preserved well enough for this to be the most easily identified item by a metric mile. Primark is a big manufacturer. So I suppose it's understandable that this was the first one they tried to run to ground. However, the sheer size of the manufacturer militated against tracing anything, because they supplied squillions of retailers. (Gauci didn't say Primark, he said a supplier called Big Ben, but nobody seems to have alleged it wasn't the same item.)

Nevertheless, Crawford's narrative can't be quite right. He describes later trawling round other shops looking for the retailer of the Puccini cardigan. However, Gauci had mentioned a cardigan in his original statement, so why wouldn't they have checked him out first anyway? (Crawford takes credit for later seeing a similar cardigan in Gauci's shop, and nailing it in that way.)

However, minor quibbles aside, Gauci seems to have spontaneously listed seven items bought by the purchaser he described, and these closely correlated to seven of the ten items identified as having been in the bomb suitcase by examining the debris recovered.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
It was only when the BKA released their Feburary report with the Erac printout, that Bell narrowed down his search for the Babygro for those outlets on Malta itself which had received a delivery of this piece of clothing. On Bell's return to "Malta Trading co", he happened to spot another factory within the same small industrial estate named "Yorkie Trading" when Mary's House showed up as having taken delivery of both these items.

Where did you get that from? It's closer to Coleman than to Crawford, but it's not the same as either of them. Neither Coleman nor Crawford is reliable, so if you have another source, do tell.

Still, however they found him, you can't really get past the congruence of these two lists, as far as I can see.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
At this stage however, despite Gauci's initial description of the man being of "Libyan appearance" it seems everyone was still hot on the trail of the PFLP, and Talb, as they were known to have a cell in Malta who were on the island operating under the guise of a bakery and Talb had been a frequent visitor to Malta in the months before 103's bombing.

And I'm not at all convinced that Talb was a decent candidate for the purchaser either, to be perfectly frank.

Rolfe.
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Old 8th July 2010, 04:39 PM   #207
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Does anyone fancy trying for a scenario that would still allow for these clothes to be fabricated, and yet Tony come up with that list?

Here's my best shot, and it's a doozy.

Cannistraro knows Megrahi was in Malta on 7th December, and in a position to have purchased clothes that day. In about May or June he sends his spooks to Malta to identify a small shop with a slow turnover of stock. He enlists the help of the owners to identify a number of items that would have been in the shop on that date - the whole bloody boiling, t-shirt and all. The Yorkie trousers are a particularly good one, because they were delivered on 18th November, which puts a manageable early limit on the date of this purchase. A blue babygro is included, because the shop happens to stock them, and one was found on the moor by non-police personnel.

Tony is encouraged to learn this list of clothes, and rehearsed in a scenario which has these clothes bought by a Libyan answering to Megrahi's appearance, on 7th December 1988. The date is fixed by reference to a football match that took place that day, and Paul agrees he would have been watching it at the time. The family is promised millions of dollars as a reward if they can pull this off successfully.

The clothes are taken to Indian Head and artistically blown up, taking care to preserve the most informative labels. Pieces of (black!) Toshiba plastic and some scraps of the manual are inserted into some of the fragments, and the timer fragment also included in the shirt collar. These things are then inserted into the evidence by substituting them for vaguely similar things that really were recovered on the ground. The grey shirt collar is held back because of the extra necessity of acquiring, preparing and inserting the timer fragment, the thing isn't really ready to fly till mid-September, and as a result the paperwork relating to that one gets -ed up.

In late August the rest of it is all shipshape, and the detectives from Scotland are called to examine the stuff. They do that, and take a lot of pics, and off they go to try to trace the stuff. They manage it all quite quickly, and by 1st September they're talking to Tony. Tony gets most of it right, but he forgets the shirts and the t-shirt, and he gets the description of the purchaser wrong (maybe he accidentally describes the assistant who played the part of the purchaser when they rehearsed it as a role-play...). His embellishments regarding the date are also a problem because they inadvertently push the day referred to more towards 23rd November than 7th December.

There's also a problem because the Scottish detectives become fixated on Abu Talb, who happened to have a pile of similar clothes, look slightly similar to Megrahi, and have connections to the PFLP-GC. They nearly blow it completely by persuading Tony to identify Abu Talb, but finally the conspirators manage to steer them to Megrahi as the correct suspect, and everything gets back on track.

And all the Gauci infighting when Paul complained that this was all disrupting their family and Tony was to stop co-operating with the cops and so on, is just a smokescreen.

I like it.

It's completely ludicrous. It's twooferism on a pogo stick. The chances of getting Tony Gauci to keep that lot up for ten years aren't even worth mentioning.

So unless someone can come up with something with a bit more credibility, I think we have to take it as a fact that Tony sold these clothes as a job lot, to a purchaser as described, probably on 23rd November.

So, this is where we came in. It's a helluva weird way to acquire material to use in a criminal act where you presumably would prefer not to be caught. So what was that all about?

Rolfe.
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Old 9th July 2010, 03:09 AM   #208
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Just a quick point about the "transcript of Tony Gauci's first statement to Scottish detectives", available on Buncrana's link. This can't be the original, and it doesn't seem to claim to be. It's not on the proper stationery, and there are no signatures. It's headed "Strathclyde Police", when the force doing the investigation was Dumfries and Galloway. (It's possible the detectives who took the statement were on secondment from Strathclyde, but I would have thought they would have used the D&G paperwork in that case.)

It appears to be a hurried transcript of an audio tape, with a lot of typing errors. In one place a "sounds like" has been scored out and the correct wording handwritten ("young lad" for "man had"). It's not impossible a police transcript would look like that in the 1980s, but the stationery is still wrong.

Nevertheless, I think the wording is accurate. The content agrees perfectly with the content of that statement as discussed by the forensic psychologists in their reports on Megrahi's web site. So who knows where it actually came from, but there's no reason to believe the content is inaccurate beyond the typos already mentioned, as far as I can see.

Rolfe.
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Old 9th July 2010, 03:55 AM   #209
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
But I had a thought, relating to the roots of the inquiry into Gauci. Definitely how it began is highly important ant as you noted, apparently off-the-record.

Did they manage to get the recollections without leading? Did the first police (Maltese or Scottish, more likely) ask him to recall any suspicious sales of any items, to a particular person - when? Prior to that famous airliner bombing? And from there, did he independently recall just what it was, down to tallied prices, cash tendered and change given (a bit hazy only on the last). No slalom shirt. No problem, the tally changes. Doesn't it?

Or did they show him pictures, or at least describe items they'd found to trigger his memory? 'did any terrorist type come in here and buy a harris tweed coat - umbrella - etc.' Can such a useful and detailed memory have surfaced without 'priming the pump' a bit? And could that help to encourage false memories? Could we ever have credible proof that any portion of his matching shopping list is his own independent recall?

This is the scenario I've been wondering about, and I think it's quite difficult to make it stick. They came to the shop specifically in pursuit of the records of one particular pair of trousers, the 34" brown check Yorkie trousers that the manufacturer said he'd supplied to that shop on 18th November. This pair was part of an order for five pairs, in three different sizes (one 32", two 34" and two 36"). Tony recognised the order, and was able to tell the police that two pairs remained unsold (the 32" pair and the other 34" pair). So far, no recollection of the sale of the 34" pair the police are interested in.

Then there's a bit of a commotion, with Edward getting all stressed out, and Tony calls Paul to come and lend a hand. This leaves Tony dealing with a customer while Paul is talking to the police. When Tony has finished serving his customer, he pays attention again to what's going on, and sees Paul showing the policemen a pair of pyjamas. This is what seems to trigger the memory of the particular sale, which also involved the Yorkie trousers.

There is a hint here that the policemen were making suggestions, possibly looking round the shop to see what else there was on display that might match items found at Lockerbie. I very much doubt that Harry Bell wanted a pair of jim-jams for his missus. If it was just the trousers and the pyjamas, it could certainly look like leading the witness. However.
  • the tweed jacket
  • the lighter brown pair of trousers (to match the jacket)
  • the babygro
  • the umbrella
  • the cardigan
There's no hint that the detectives fed him these items. Is it really possible the statement misses out a section where Tony says he vaguely remembers a purchaser who might have bought the trousers or the pyjamas, and then the detectives chip in with "what about a tweed jacket, Tony, do you think you might have sold him one of those?" and so on down the list (unfortunately forgetting about the Slalom shirts and the Abanderado t-shirt)? It would be horrendously bad investigative practice from policemen who were honestly trying to do a decent job.

By the time the detectives leave, Tony has actually given them samples of the trousers, the pyjamas and another similar jacket. He says the babygro and the cardigan are currently out of stock. I just can't see any half-competent detective leading a witness to this extent, quite honestly.

ETA: I note Prof. Valentine says "the police showed Mr. Gauci a sample of material and photographs of blast-damaged material prior to his first statement being recorded." However, it's likely this all related to the trousers that brought them to the shop. If they'd shown him samples or photographs of anything else at that stage, it would surely have been a shocking breach or procedure.

It's funny we haven't seen any discussion of this 100% specificity and 70% sensitivity of Tony's first effort in any of the commentaries.

Rolfe.
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Old 9th July 2010, 05:10 AM   #210
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
[...] Where did you get that from? It's closer to Coleman than to Crawford, but it's not the same as either of them. Neither Coleman nor Crawford is reliable, so if you have another source, do tell.

Still, however they found him, you can't really get past the congruence of these two lists, as far as I can see.

And I'm not at all convinced that Talb was a decent candidate for the purchaser either, to be perfectly frank.

Rolfe.
That info about Bell visit's to Malta was gathered from the various articles I've been browsing over the last couple of weeks. I'll try and find the precise article(s) that led me to that view.

I'm not convinced either that Talb himself would have been the man Gauci was trying to describe, despite his claims of recognition from a photo, but I don't discount the possibility of some other member(s) of the PLFP cell, who the Germans seemingly were keeping tabs on for quite some time, may well have been the purchaser.

Although, as you rightly point out, it doesn't offer a plausible reasoning why someone would make a purchase like this, in this kind of shop, when preparing such a dastardly deed as blowing up an airliner.
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Old 9th July 2010, 06:03 AM   #211
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Tony's description of the purchaser is quite interesting in one respect. He says almost nothing about his face.

Height, build, body shape, age. He notes that his head is large, his hair is black, and he's clean-shaven. But nothing else about the face. The photofits eventually produced aren't very detailed. One of them kind of looks a bit like a particular photo of Megrahi (a photo that doesn't actually seem to be a very good likeness). The other also looks a bit like a photo of Abu Talb. (See page 67 here.) Bollier has suggested one of them looks a bit like a photo of Giaka!

I don't think Tony remembered the man's face at all. The two likenesses he produced (one artist's impression and one photo-composite) don't even look like the same person.

Tony sold clothes for a living. It's all about fit, with him. The man had a big chest, but wasn't fat or paunchy. That 42" jacket would have been too small for him. Later, he had a 36" waist and a 16½ to 17" collar size. A ladies' outfitter would care more about the face, perhaps. But Tony is only concerned with whether the clothes fit.

But what do the detectives do? They start showing him pictures of faces. Once the hairstyle and the lack of facial hair have been controlled for, Tony seems all at sea. He's constantly picking out the picture that most resembles the customer, rather that saying, oh yes, that's him. He could have been picking out photos of narrow-chested midgets, the way the thing was run.

At the very start, Godfrey Scicluna actually thought he recognised Tony's description and knew who the man was - from the build, obviously, as Tony gave no clue about facial features. However, Tony didn't pick out a mug-shot of this person, who wasn't Arab anyway. After that, there seems to have been no attempt to take body shape or size into account at all when looking for matches.

But from the face, we have no idea and never will have any idea who this person was.

Rolfe.
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Old 9th July 2010, 09:40 AM   #212
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
That info about Bell visit's to Malta was gathered from the various articles I've been browsing over the last couple of weeks. I'll try and find the precise article(s) that led me to that view.

It's interesting in that it introduces a connection with both the babygro and the checked trousers before the visit to Mary's House. Which makes it a bit more likely that the detectives might have mentioned the babygro as well when they came calling, even though there's nothing in Tony's statement to suggest that.

I'm still wondering how possible it is that the detectives prompted Tony to say tweed jacket, babygro, another pair of lighter trousers, umbrella, red and black check cardigan, in addition to the check trousers and the pyjamas they undoubtedly did prompt on. I can't see that any detective who was trying to follow good procedure would have done that, and there's no reason to believe Bell and Armstrong weren't on the level.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
I'm not convinced either that Talb himself would have been the man Gauci was trying to describe, despite his claims of recognition from a photo,

His identification of Abu Talb was never much better than his identification of Megrahi. The artist's impression looks quite like Talb, but it looks quite like a few other people as well, e.g. Mohamed Salam. The main point about the Talb identification is putting it to the court that Gauci identifies Talb in almost identical terms to his identification of Megrahi, so why do you accept a positive identification of Megrahi but reject a positive identification of Talb? He did at one point say that Talb looked more like the purchaser than Megrahi, but again he's only going on mugshots, and none of it is very suggestive.

I don't know Talb's height or age or general build. He doesn't look 50 in the only photo available, but these photos are uniformly terrible. If he was indeed over 45 at the time of the bombing, 6 feet tall, and built similarly to Gauci's description, then I'd be more interested. However, it's clear the police were originally coaching Tony to identify Talb, and I would take the apparent identification in the light of that.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
but I don't discount the possibility of some other member(s) of the PLFP cell, who the Germans seemingly were keeping tabs on for quite some time, may well have been the purchaser.

I wonder about the "Libyan" part, and how reliable Tony really was in identifying Libyans. It's not as if that's a feature that pertains to how well the clothes would fit. He really seems to be saying, he was Libyan not Tunisian, and he would recognise Tunisians because they had a habit of breaking into French. He said this man was speaking "Libyan", but I don't think there's any such language - the official language of the country is Arabic.

Would Tony be able to distinguish a Libyan from, for example, an Egyptian or a Jordanian or a Syrian? Or does he mainly divide Arabs into two groups, the two North African nationalities most encountered in Malta - Libyans (those speaking Arabic) and Tunisian (those liable to break into French)? Can we put any faith in the Libyan bit, or could this describe any Arabic speaker?

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Although, as you rightly point out, it doesn't offer a plausible reasoning why someone would make a purchase like this, in this kind of shop, when preparing such a dastardly deed as blowing up an airliner.

It's nuts. Sure, the plane might have gone down over the sea and none of that recovered. But the timing of the explosion left a decent chance it might go down over land. The clothes might have been vapourised. But they weren't, and anyone messing with a plot like this was in a position to know that wasn't certain. It might have been impossible to trace the items. But brand new stuff, with the labels still attached, it's clearly possible. Tony might not have remembered the purchase. This was probably the best bet, but then why go out of your way to make the purchase memorable?

OK, whever it was got away with it after all because Tony didn't remember what he looked like well enough to lead the cops to him, but it was obviously a close thing. The world is full of old clothes that could never have been traced from a label to a manufacturer to a retailer, and even if they were, no retailer would remember the purchase (and if you went for second-hand clothes, it wouldn't be any use even if they did). So what was the reason for this conspicuous purchase?

My main thought is that the clothes weren't intended for use in the bomb suitcase at the time they were being purchased, or at the very least, the purchaser didn't know they would be used in this way. This leaves two possibilities. Either they were bought with another purpose in mind, then were used for the bomb bag without the bomber really thinking, hey, brand new clothes, might be traced, or the terrorists sent an innocent patsy to buy the stuff for them.

I can't see much point to the latter to be honest. I mean, why buy new clothes at all, for this specific purpose? If they didn't want to use stuff they already owned (it's a bit early to be worrying about DNA, but it could have been an issue), go to a second-hand shop or raid a washing line or something! Which leaves, what other purpose might the purchase have served, with the clothes then appropriated for use in the bomb bag?

Rolfe.
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Old 12th July 2010, 05:31 AM   #213
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Can I recap a little and summarise my thinking, having now realised that Tony's strike rate on his very first interview was pretty much uncanny? What are the possibilities?
  • Complete fabrication. Some time in the summer of 1989 one of Cannistraro's minions came to the shop, identified suitable garments with the right provenance and took them away to be turned into evidence. Tony was then coached to "remember" selling these things to a Libyan customer answering to Megrahi's description on 7th December 1988, and played his part (with a few hiccups) when the detectives came calling on 1st September 1989.
  • Leading the witness. Bell and Armstrong knew which garments had been identified as blast-damaged, and when they were directed to Mary's House on the track of the check trousers, they got all excited when they saw several other garments in the shop which matched the description of other items on the list. They fed this information to Tony, who had started to describe the purchase of several pairs of pyjamas (which the detectives had mentioned to Paul), and he obligingly credited the pyjama-purchaser with buying the entire list of stuff.
  • Genuine memory. An Arab man really did buy those clothes from Tony as described, and he was recalling this genuine purchase.
The first wouldn't be completely impossible if Tony was a wily character. If Tony is a wily character, he should be in Hollywood. Even if Cannistraro was so far into the idea of framing Megrahi that he thought of doing this, he'd have jacked the idea in immediately when he realised it relied on Tony Gauci managing to play a convincing role for ten years, in the face of repeated police questioning.

I think Tony's statement is way too detailed for the second suggestion to be possible. He's quite literal, and there are places in the statement where he gives a fair bit of extraneous detail (like how Libyans usually check to see if trousers will fit them). And yet there's nothing about "the detectives asked me if I'd sold him a jacket like that one in the shop and I remembered that I had...." I think a statement like Tony's first one might be achieved by blatantly dishonest detectives determined to get that result, but there's no suggestion Bell and Armstrong were of that mindset.

So, unlikely though I believed it was, I have to go with the third possibility. Tony really did remember an Arab customer buying a list of items which matched the police list of blast-damaged items with 100% specificity and 70% sensitivity. The chances of this being a completely different customer who just happened by but the same eclectic list of items are negligible - particularly as the list included one pair of the 34" check trousers, and the other 34" pair was still in the shop, unsold.

Anybody want to disagree with this?

Rolfe.
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Old 16th July 2010, 04:28 PM   #214
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OK, I'll take that as a no.

I've been thinking a bit more about the rationale of buying these clothes rather consipcuously in Malta, rather than robbing a washing line or something. And maybe making a bit more sense of it.

Supposing you're a Libyan agent, intending to bomb PA103. You aren't going to introduce the bomb into the system at Tripoli, because that's maybe going to get you rumbled - or at least your country rumbled. But hey, isn't it handy, we have a Mediterranean island right there, where all the officials and the ground crew at the airport are in our pocket. They'll do anything for us and they'll never tell! We can smuggle a bomb in there and nobody will know it's us. I'll use that coded passport I've used before, and nobody will know it's me. I won't even put on a false beard or anything, it's not as if I'm not known by sight by half the airport, from my last job and all the travelling I do through there....

OK, it's already beginning to sound a bit flaky, and I'll come back to the reasons Malta wasn't in Gadaffi's pocket later. But it still might be a plan if you're a bit dim and/or a bit arrogant.

However, clothes for the bomb bag. Well, we can't use clothes with Arabic labels on them, that might be a bit too obvious if any of the stuff is recovered. Hey, I know! Malta used to be a British colony and they have a lot of clothes manufacturers with British-sounding names on their stuff - Big Ben, Anglia, that sort of thing. We'll just get the clothes there too! So we'll just get someone to go into a shop that mainly sells Maltese-manufactured clothes and get him to buy any old random stuff, nobody will possibly remember that. (In fact, in this version of the plot the cops are supposed to think the bomb went on at Heathrow or maybe Frankfurt, oh, the cops will just think Big Ben and Anglia are real English brands, that'll work, they won't bother looking for the actual manufacturers....)

Yeah, right. Maybe the sooper-sekrit smuggling on of the bomb will remain undiscovered. Maybe the stellar disguise of the previously-used coded passport and the total absence of a false beard won't be penetrated. Why should anyone connect an explosion over Scotland or Ireland with Malta? (Maybe nobody will notice the blatant trail the suitcase would be expected to leave going through Frankfurt and trace that back to Malta, I mean, maybe the BKA will destroy that evidence for us.... look, I'm trying here, OK?) One more possible lead from the crashed aircraft straight back to Malta is neither here nor there, surely?

How stupid do we think these terrorists are?

On the other hand, supposing you're the PFLP-GC. You're based in Neuss. Or Stockholm or Uppsala or somewhere. Your main bases are in Syria. You have a plan to smuggle a bomb on board PA103 at Heathrow, into a baggage container that will mainly contain luggage from Frankfurt. The killer wrinkle is that the cops might think the thing came from Frankfurt, but there will be nothing to connect us to Frankfurt airport that day. Should be nice and confusing for everyone, particularly considering some of the other stuff they'll turn up when they start looking at the Frankfurt baggage system....

We need clothes for this bomb bag. The stuff might be picked up on the ground, so we don't want to get anything that can be linked to England. Or Germany....

By this logic, it could have been anywhere. However, in this version, there is no connection between the bomb insertion and Malta. Nothing. Anything that leads back there will lead the cops down a blind alley. So maybe there's no harm in making a fairly conspicuous purchase, rather than old or second-hand stuff. There was a PFLP-GC cell on the island. Ask someone's uncle's cousin to get a few things, and leave them in a dead-drop somewhere, and it will be a complete dead end even if the purchase is traced.

After all, it worked, didn't it? It may have worked quite differently from how anyone envisaged, but the fact is, the purchaser of the clothes was not traced. It was, in fact, an absolutely stellar misdirect. Abdusamad at the airport and tray B8849 and the suggestibility of Tony Gauci were total icing on the cake. But so long as the purchaser was unlikely to be seen again by Tony, and had in fact no connection at all to the bombers, it might have been a perfectly rational plan. Not only do you have cops wasting their time annoying the Frankfurt BKA, you have more cops wasting their time running round Malta. And the more cops are doing that, the fewer cops are swarming all over Heathrow....

It's not perfect. It doesn't take any account of Abu Talb and his Maltese autumn collection. Or the man who bought the little girls' dresses. But it makes a lot better sense than the first version.

Any thoughts?

Rolfe.
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Old 19th July 2010, 06:01 AM   #215
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I'm bumping this for Buncrana, and also to note something else I spotted while looking more at the grounds for appeal.

Although Prof. Valentine thought that Tony might well have recognised the real purchaser of the clothes in the man who bought the little girls' dresses, Tony seems to have got less and less sure it was the same man, in subsequent statements. The other occasions when he thinks he's seen the mystery shopper don't really fly well at all.

There's the man who bought blankets, but that was before the bomb-bag purchase, and when first interviewed Tony said the man had never been to the shop before or since. There's the man in "Tony's Bar", but again Tony never seems to have reported more than a resemblance. And then there's the purchase of the dresses, which occurred after the detectives had already started talking to him. The last is especially odd in that Tony didn't report it to the cops the next time he saw them (later the same day), but instead called them the following day to arrange a meeting.

I think it's likely Tony never saw this man before or since. Who in their right mind, having bought identifiable items for use in a terrorist outrage, would voluntarily go back to the same shop? Instead, I suspect Tony's imagination began to take over, and several times he saw someone who looked rather similar. This would fit with his habit of picking out photos from the lineups who resembled the purchaser. At one pont one of the detectives notes that he thinks they may be confusing Tony by showing him too many pictures.

If these items were really bought for the purpose of packing the bomb bag, I suspect this was done as a deliberate redirect away from the scene of the action. If the terrorists made use of the PFLP-GC cell on Malta, they would still have been anxious to ensure that the purchase couldn't be traced back to them. So they would use a purchaser Gauci had never seen before and would never see again, quite frankly.

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Old 20th July 2010, 03:59 PM   #216
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
..I think it's likely Tony never saw this man before or since. Who in their right mind, having bought identifiable items for use in a terrorist outrage, would voluntarily go back to the same shop? Instead, I suspect Tony's imagination began to take over, and several times he saw someone who looked rather similar. This would fit with his habit of picking out photos from the lineups who resembled the purchaser. At one pont one of the detectives notes that he thinks they may be confusing Tony by showing him too many pictures.

If these items were really bought for the purpose of packing the bomb bag, I suspect this was done as a deliberate redirect away from the scene of the action. If the terrorists made use of the PFLP-GC cell on Malta, they would still have been anxious to ensure that the purchase couldn't be traced back to them. So they would use a purchaser Gauci had never seen before and would never see again, quite frankly.

Rolfe.
Instict certainly tells me that your two paragraphs here are entirely logical. Although, I would also add the risk of tracing the clothes back to Malta, thereby the PLFP cell based there, with Talb's involvement in purchasing batches of clothing from Malta, would be outweighed if they had got their hands on one of those Khreesat devices - Khreesat, possible Jordanian agent, apparent CIA asset, maybe connected to the BKA, amongst how many others, and most definitely the bomb maker.

Using that device, introduced at Heathrow, in the knowledge of a possible clandestine operation running through Frankfurt and Heathrow would pose a huge dilemma for any subsequent investigaton by the UK and US security services.

An interesting snippet I picked up from another Leppard article from Dec 17 1989.

Originally Posted by The Sunday Times
[...] At the beginning of September Detective Chief Inspector Harry Bell flew to Malta to ask Malta Trading Company for a list of all Babygro outlets on the island. In his briefcase Bell carried photographs of all the items which Feraday had linked to the suitcase bomb.

Malta Trading is based on the San Gwaan industrial estate. There, quite by chance, Bell noticed a sign outside another factory. It read: Yorkie Industrial Clothing. The mystery surrounding the check trousers was over. Bell showed a picture of the trousers labelled 0005 to Alex Calleja, Yorkie's director, who confirmed his factory had made them. The number 0005, he said, meant they were fifth in a batch of five he had recently made. Calleja told Bell he had sold them to Tony Gauci, who runs a small boutique called Mary's House in Tower Road, Sliema.

Bell drove immediately to Tower Road, walked briskly into the shop and introduced himself. Gauci recognised the picture of the trousers and agreed he had bought them from Yorkie.

But could he recall his customer and when he bought them? Gauci remembered well: it was at the end of November last year, and the man was of Libyan appearance in his forties, well dressed, clean-shaven and with a swarthy complexion.

He seemed to buy the clothes indiscriminately. Gauci said that in addition to the chequered trousers he had sold the man a blue Babygro, a pair of pyjamas, another pair of trousers, and an old jacket which he had been trying to get rid of for years. As he was about to leave the man saw that it was raining and asked to buy an umbrella.

Back in Scotland, five umbrellas had been recovered from the Lockerbie debris. Until that moment the police had not taken any real notice of them. But after hearing from Bell they were re-examined. One of them showed signs of blast damage. It was taken immediately to Fort Halstead and within hours Feraday was able to prove that fibres of the blue cotton Babygro had been fused into it. Gauci's story was confirmed.

When Bell returned to Scotland later that week the entire 88-strong Lockerbie investigation team was hastily assembled for his briefing. The team, he told them, now had their strongest link so far to the bombers. They had a witness, immediately put under armed guard, who would be prepared to identify a man who was irrevocably linked, through the clothes, to the bomb. If they could find that man, and persuade him to talk, they would be in a position to identify and find the Lockerbie bombers.

THE Maltese connection was to prove interesting for another reason. Scottish officers discovered that a PPLP-GC cell was operating from a front company called Miska Trading, which owned a bakery on the island. Intelligence reports showed that members of Dalkamoni's cell in Germany had frequently visited the bakery.

At the same time officers had begun to unravel a complex network to link the German bomb flat with a group of suspected terrorists who had been rounded up in Uppsala, Sweden.

Even before Lockerbie, the BKA (German police) and SAPO (Swedish police) had been running a joint operation aimed at arresting two terror cells in their respective countries. The link between the two countries was Mohammed Al-Moghrabi, previously arrested in Frankfurt as part of operation Autumn Leaves.

German intelligence reports showed that Moghrabi, one of a family of Palestinians with a long track record of terrorist outrages, had stayed with Dalkamoni at the flat at the same time as Khreesat had been building his Toshiba radio bomb. He had driven there in car belonging to Marten Imandi. Imandi was standing trial with Moghrabi's brother-in-law, Abu Talb, on terror charges in Stockholm.

Examining the SAPO files Lockerbie detectives discovered that Talb had visited Malta between October 19 and 26. An interview with Jamilla, Talb's 28-year-old former wife, revealed that he had travelled to Malta 'to buy clothes'.

The SAPO file also refers to an air ticket from Malta to Stockholm recovered after a police raid on Talb's Uppsala flat on May 18. The ticket was dated November 26. It indicated that Talb was on the island when the clothes were bought from Tony Gauci on November 23, 1988.

The trail to Talb was so strong that exactly one year later, on November 23, 1989, the Lockerbie team applied through the Swedish foreign office for a warrant to raid Talb's apartment. When the warrant was executed a week later police seized more than 200 items of clothing. These included a large batch of clothes which had been bought in Malta. They have now been flown to the island where Tony Gauci, the boutique owner, is examining them to see if Talb had been in his shop.

When the application was made in court to remove the clothes from the country, Talb was formally named as a suspect 'in the murder or participation in the murder of 270 people'.

A detailed examination of the PFLP-GC cell in Germany and its links to a cell in Malta and the suspected Palestinian terrorists in Sweden has convinced the Scottish police that the conspirators will be found among those groups.

Tomorrow, in a stark interview room at a high security prison somewhere in the south of Sweden, Scottish detectives will quiz Talb about the bombing for the first time.

They have left the interview with Talb until the last possible moment, just three days before he is due to hear the verdict of his trial for bomb outrages on American and Israeli targets in Scandanavia and Holland. He and the three other men charged with him will hear that verdict on the very day one year ago that flight 103 fell out of the sky.

'We have cracked about 80% of this case, ' one security source said last week. 'But the remaining 20% is one big black hole.' Alan Feraday, Harry Bell and the rest of the Lockerbie team are hoping that, tomorrow, Talb will finally fill in that hole.
So, at this stage Talb is thought to have been on Malta, covering the dates in late November that apparently was Gauci's very first recollection, but was there on the date that became fateful, Wednesday 23rd, and very possibly on another clothing spending spree, although on this occasion with his brother in-law. Or is there a suggestion that maybe the PFLP were actually trying to set Talb himself up?

This is all after the BKA revelation of Bogomira's printout pointing to Malta and nearly a full year after the bombing of 103, Megrahi's presence at Luqa is seemingly not known or if it was, was of no consideration to the front line investigators. Because, well the MST-13 hasn't been 'discovered' yet (although latterly it was discovered in May that year), was still thought to be a barometric and timer combination to allow the Frankfurt theory to pervade the investigation, and the Toshiba model is still thought to be of the kind the PLFP had been caught with - or at least was favoured by Khreesat.

Meanwhile you have Giaka and Boliier spinning yarns for financial gain and offer the CIA, the Heathrow and UK authorities and the BKA, a way out of any explicit Khreesat device involvement. Perhaps the jackpot was the eventual discovery that Megrahi, libyan agent and sanctions buster, was in Malta the day Pan Am blew up. Just an identification from the shop owner was needed, financial inducement could sway that witness too, and Feraday would provide the other links.

The problem here is obviously there's still a couple of huge coincidences that have to be accepted. Bollier was talking about Megrahi, the clothes are from Malta, and the BKA printout points to Luqa just as Megrahi checked in. Hmmmm...

I do still wonder about how the claims that the Babygro was recovered virtually intact, and yet was presented at Zeist as barely discernible.
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Old 20th July 2010, 04:24 PM   #217
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I'd be careful with Leppard, because I'm realising he isn't all that accurate. Some of it is just that he's commenting early, but there were so many errors in his first piece I almost gave up. He had the passenger numbers all wrong, the number of suitcases wrong, and the loading of the baggage container in the wrong place. And the arrival time of PA103A was out by 40 minutes. I'm not sure I trust him more than Crawford.

Here's how the umbrella was really found.

Originally Posted by Court judgement
Three fragments of a black nylon umbrella. The major fragments comprised part of the canopy, ribbing and handle stem, shredded and partly collapsed indicating close involvement with an explosion. Strongly adherent to the canopy material were blue and white fibres, similar in appearance to the Babygro fibres. A second fragment was a piece of silver coated black plastic with fluted surface corrugations similar to part of the locking collar of the umbrella, and this was found in a fragment of the tartan checked trousers.

How does that square with Leppard's story?

Quote:
Back in Scotland, five umbrellas had been recovered from the Lockerbie debris. Until that moment the police had not taken any real notice of them. But after hearing from Bell they were re-examined. One of them showed signs of blast damage.

And Tony never said the purchaser was in his forties, and I see no indication he had been trying to get rid of the jacket for years - he had others like it he was able to give to the detectives according to Crawford, although it was indeed old stock (maybe a later statement?).

This is also wrong as far as the timeline goes as well. The initial trip to identify the babygro was quite a bit earlier, and it's not just that I'm believing Crawford here, Coleman says the same thing. Then later, Bell and Armstrong went looking for Yorkie trading, and fetched up at Mary's House on 1st September. Shortly after that, a whole team went out with Crawford as part of it.

And here is the label part of the Yorkie trousers. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...x-PAYorkie.jpg There is no 0005 visible. I doubt this whole story of the exclusive material or batch. Tony doesn't seem to have gone in for exclusives. There was an order for 5 pairs, but in 3 diferent sizes. The manufacturer managed to pinpoint Mary's House as a possible retailer, but I don't think we know how. They could even have given the cops a list of outlets on the island, and they were working round them when they hit paydirt.

It's interesting, but it needs a health warning on accuracy.

Oh, and just because the Scottish cops had no idea about Megrahi, doesn't mean the CIA didn't know - or at least, knew that Abdusamad was an agent and a potential suspect.

Rolfe.
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Old 21st July 2010, 04:49 AM   #218
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I'd just like to add my take on Talb-he had Maltese clothes, he had connections with Abu Elias in Sweden, I hear. He and his clothes might be involved. I'm sure Abu Talb is the reason Maltese clothes were found - either because he supplied them or because clothes planters were trying to implicate him (perhaps as an interim placeholder until the Malta link can be turned into a Libya link).

What I can't buy, if it's being mentioned (sorry) is any thing that relies on Tony Gauci supporting it being Talb. Sure, he might've bought his clothing there, and hi sother stories a cover, but Gauci is unreliable crap witness, and the man he describes, who may or may not exist, is too old to be Abu Talb as well. The first sketch does look like him, but those sketches don't mean crap, unless they're trying to make it look like someone at first (and they were - Abu Talb)

Also FWIW I compiled much of the appeal documents' info on payments to the Gauci', alongside Frank Duggan's clueslss dismissals
http://lockerbiedivide.blogspot.com/...-to-malta.html
Interesting stuff.
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Old 21st July 2010, 09:20 AM   #219
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I agree up to a point. Gauci seems to have had a remarkable memory of the actual clothes he sold, unless that statement has been extraordinarily manipulated. After having been prompted on two of the ten items identified as blast-damaged, and without any other apparent prompting, he came up with five more items, all of which were also on the list. (I still wonder if he was also prompted on the Babygro though.)

I think he may also have had a striking memory of the purchaser - just not of his face. Tony thought he was attending to a customer who mainly wanted men's clothes for himself. He was concerned that the jacket, which was the largest size he had in stock, was actually too small. He was also concerned that the man had chosen two pairs of trousers in two different sizes.

Tony's livelihood was selling clothes. His job was to size people up (literally!) and try to select garments that would be a good fit for them. It's quite striking that his descriptions of the purchaser are in sizes - he gives estimated height, and chest, waist and collar measurements to the investigators. This is easy to understand if he was doing his usual job with a customer and trying to find the right fit.

The face, though, seems to boil down to no more than a hairstyle (a short-ish afro by the look of it) and "clean shaven". His two pictorial renditions are fairly different. I don't think he remembered the face in any detail. So when the detectives started trying to get him to identify faces, it wasn't hard to get him first to focus on Abu Talb, and then later to transfer that to Megrahi, as both were clean shaven and had haircuts more or less as described.

I don't think there's any point in focusing on the face. I think the rest of the description is the possibly reliable part. Which doesn't really sound any more like Abu Talb than like Megrahi. Also, I'm not sure why Abu Talb would be buying clothes from a retailer, if he was thinking about selling them on.

I'm not saying it couldn't have been Abu Talb, because it's not as horrendous a slip-up as if it had been Megrahi. Buying identifiable clothes hundreds of miles from the scene of the crime is silly. Buying identifiable clothes three miles from where you intend to smuggle the bomb on the plane, in such a way as you hope its origin will never be figured out, is just brain dead.

I think it was somebody else though. Somebody Tony had never seen before and never saw again. I'm still intrigued by Abu Talb and his clothes purchases, nevertheless.

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Old 21st July 2010, 01:51 PM   #220
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Also FWIW I compiled much of the appeal documents' info on payments to the Gauci', alongside Frank Duggan's clueslss dismissals
http://lockerbiedivide.blogspot.com/...-to-malta.html
Interesting stuff.

You're getting extremely good at this, you know. These newer posts are quite stunningly better than some of the early ones, which weren't bad themselves. I left you a comment about a couple of little errors.

Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
I'm sure Abu Talb is the reason Maltese clothes were found - either because he supplied them or because clothes planters were trying to implicate him (perhaps as an interim placeholder until the Malta link can be turned into a Libya link).

Please explain the narrative whereby you think these clothes could be planted. I've explained my best effort, and it's preposterous. It relies on Tony Gauci having a brain and being able to act a part for over ten years. This is clearly ludicrous. (The risk that Paul or Tony would have jumped ship and spilled the beans for a media fortune was also far too high, to be brutally honest.)

As you know, I was really quite into the idea that these clothes and Tony were some sort of shenanigans - maybe a Clever Hans trick. But I can't see how he came out with such a high strike rate for the actual blast-damaged clothes at the very first interview, unless the story of the mystery shopper is essentially true.

Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
The first sketch does look like him, but those sketches don't mean crap, unless they're trying to make it look like someone at first (and they were - Abu Talb)

I think the sketch and photofit were produced way too early for any attempt to make them look like anyone. They hadn't even fingered Talb by then as far as I know, never mind Megrahi. I think the apparent resemblance to particular photos of Talb and Megrahi has more to do with them being pretty generic than any intent on anyone's part.

I'm still mildly interested in the Slalom shirts, and the attempts to get Tony to "remember" selling them. It seems someone thought it was important to link the item the timer fragment was found in. However, it's more an indication of how much it was possible to get Tony to change his story through pressure than anything else. Same way as the Christmas lights and the height and the age and so on got vaguer as he realised his original assessments were "wrong".

But overall, Tony sold these clothes and they were in the bomb bag, and the mystery shopper encounter happened. Until you persuade me different.

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Old 22nd July 2010, 03:42 AM   #221
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I'm not going to get any deeper into details right now. I need to just keep back at the big picture and take it to the masses. I'd need to shift gears, figure out a lot of little things I don't have down yet, plus look over your posts, etc. before I could say what makes most sense to me. So take it all as hypothetical for now. Not the most valuable comments, I know...

Oh, and thanks for the nice words. It's just the good material I'm handed mostly, and not messing it up too bad if possible.

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Old 22nd July 2010, 03:49 AM   #222
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Here's a big post then: Some of the quotes from various polic communications (mostly DCI Bell's veryfruitful diary - he headed the Malta wing of the investigation). Interspersed with commentary from Megrahi's grounds of appeal, from which these come.


Quote:
Extract from DCI Bell Diary (HOLMES version) (28/9/1989) [SCCRC Appendix: chapter 23/3] which indicates that on 28th September 1989 the FBI discussed with the Scottish Police an offer of unlimited money to Tony Gauci, with $10,000 being available immediately. Thereafter there is a comment about challenging Murray as to what he thought Gauci could give in return that he was not already giving.
Quote:
Memo from DCI Bell to DSIO Gilchrist (21/2/91) [SCCRC Appendix: chapter
23/1] which states that Tony Gauci had expressed an interest in receiving money in recent meetings and that "if a monetary offer was made to Gauci this may well change his view and allow him to consider a witness protection programme as a serious avenue"
Quote:
“The manuscript version states "Bhiel states DOJ(Department of Justice) will give Magid [Abdul Majid Giaka] $2 million dollars. Advised of our concern." The dictated version has the same first sentence but continues "He was immediately advised of our concern regarding this. I also clarified with him about the Gauci reward and the response was only if he gave evidence." (This last comment is also unredacted in more recently disclosed manuscript version)
Quote:
(a) the frustration of Tony Gauci that he will not be compensated
(b) that in respect of Paul Gauci "It is apparent from speaking to him for any length of time that he has a clear desire to gain financial benefit from the position he and his brother are in relative to the case. As a consequence he exaggerates his own importance as a witness and clearly inflates the fears he and his brother have. He is anxious to establish what advantage he can gain from the Scottish police. Although demanding, Paul Gauci remains an asset to the case but will continue to explore any means he can to identify where financial advantage cane be gained."
(c) that the Gauci family had financial problems
Quote:
(a) " the issue of financial remuneration has not been discussed in detail with the witnesses and no promises exist"
(b) " It is considered that the witnesses may harbour some expectation of their situation being recognised, however whilst proceedings are still 'live' they displayed a clear understanding that such matters could not be explored"
(c) " The conduct of the Gauci brothers reflects both their own integrity and their response to the manner with which the police have dealt with them. It is therefore vital that they continue to perceive that their position is recognised and they continue to receive the respect that their conduct has earned."
Quote:
The SCCRC states that at some time after the appeal the two witnesses were each paid sums of money under the "Rewards for Justice" programme adminstered by the U.S. Department of Justice [SCCRC Reference at 23.19]
Quote:
Briefing Note D12915 DI Dalgleish to ACC Graham (16/5/07) Refers to the
“expectation that the SCCRC’s statement of reasons, which will be furnished to Mr Megrahi and his defence team, is likely to question the integrity of Anthony Gauci’s evidence and also reveal that he and his brother have received substantial payments from the American authorities. [...] there is scope for distorted or malicious reporting of the facts and a real danger that if SCCRC’s statement of reasons is leaked to the media, Anthony Gauci could be portrayed as having given flawed evidence for financial reward [...] Providing these witnesses with the financial ability to leave the island whenever they wished to avoid media or other unwanted attention was a significant factor in the nomination being made to the Rewards for Justice programme in the first place...”
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Old 22nd July 2010, 09:37 AM   #223
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Quote:
[....] on 28th September 1989 the FBI discussed with the Scottish Police an offer of unlimited money to Tony Gauci, with $10,000 being available immediately.

That's pretty jaw-dropping, actually. There's no doubt Tony was an important witness. An overwhelmingly important witness, in fact. Rationally, he saw and talked to one of the terrorist gang, or at least an agent of theirs, within a month of the bombing. Nobody else came close, or had any chance of identifying a live body.

So what is motivating the FBI to start offering wealth beyond the dreams of avarice at this early stage? Do they think Tony's memory is magically going to get better if lubricated with large amounts of cash? Is this normal FBI practice within a month of identifying a crucial identification witness?

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Old 27th July 2010, 01:25 AM   #224
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Just thought I'd bump this for one small point I find interesting.

Ihad read in one of Megrahi'sappeal documents, one of the witness experts, finding that the 1991 photo spread in which Megrahi was indicated had a slant to it regarding age. Then I read Gauci's statement on this meeting, February 15 1991.
Originally Posted by Tony Gauci
I looked at every photograph on the card, and I counted a total of 12 photographs on the card. The first impression I had was that all the photographs were of men younger than the man who bought the clothing. I told Mr. Bell this. I was asked to look at all the photographs carefully and to try and allow for any age difference. I then pointed out one of the photographs, and I later counted the photographs from the left as number 1 to the photograph at number 8 [Mr. al-Megrahi].
Normally he's considered a dense guy, but he can discern a pattern like that, deem it a problem, point it out, and note it later. Bell's solution - to look for any difference among them, age-wise, suggest that Gauci deemed Megrahi the oldest, which would be an obvious problem.

When he's the oldest-looking of 12 photos, and all 12 are younger than the buyer, we're down to slim odds of this formulation arising by a coincidental oversight. It looks a lot like leading the witness.
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Old 27th July 2010, 07:09 AM   #225
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I believe one of the expert witness reports from the psychology professors submitted by the defence to the appeal court covered this point. He noted that there was a tendency to use "foils" who were not good matches to the witness's description, so that although it might appear a sufficient number of foils had been used, in fact that was not the case as only a small number of photos were actually consistent with the witness's description of the suspect.

Prof. Valentine's report
Prof. Clark's report

I think this was a particular problem at the identity parade at Zeist itself, when of course Megrahi was 47, a lot closer to Gauci's estimated age of the purchaser (50) than he had been in 1988 when he was only 36. If I recall correctly, Megrahi was close to being the oldest person in the lineup, and at least one of the men there would only have been about 14 in 1988.

I don't think there's any evidence they ever tried to show Gauci pictures of men of 50 or over. He's constantly saying the pictures are too young, but they never correct this. On the contrary, Megrahi tends to be among the older men among the groups they select. If they'd got hold of a bunch of pics of men of the age Gauci originally indicated, and put Megrahi's among them, in my opinion he'd have immediately discounted Megrahi as being too young.

They were so goddamned sure it was Megrahi, because the original photofit looked quite like him, that they lost all objectivity in my opinion. Photofits? Have you seen the work done where members of the public are asked to compile a photofit of a well-known celebrity, then this is shown to other members of the public and they are asked to identify it? It makes a nonsense of the whole thing, quite frankly. A rough guide, maybe, but recognisable? Don't make me laugh.

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Old 27th July 2010, 07:19 AM   #226
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Then I read Gauci's statement on this meeting, February 15 1991.

Normally he's considered a dense guy, but he can discern a pattern like that, deem it a problem, point it out, and note it later.

He's dense, most people agree. A bit simple. But not stupid, entirely. Look what he actually did! Remembered a particular sale he made NINE MONTHS previously to a particular customer, to the point where he seems to have spontaneously remembered five of the items the man bought after being prompted on the first two. (It's possible he forgot another three, but he didn't name anything not known to be in that batch of clothing.)

It's Kim's game, and Tony seems to have been a natural.

He also remembered the purchaser, to the point where he gave quite a detailed description of the man. The trouble was, he remembered body size and shape, not facial features. And the detectives spent the next eleven years showing him pictures of faces. By the time we get to Zeist, he has learned what Megrahi looks like, and is hopelessly corrupted by Paul's coaching and the smell of money to be worth anything. And even then, he doesn't seem to recognise Megrahi when he sees him.

If they'd actually managed to find a man of about 50, 6 feet tall, with a large chest and head and a black afro haircut, clean-shaven, too big for a 42" jacket, with a 36" waist and a 17" collar (or whatever it was), they might have been on to something.

I'm quite impressed by Tony's memory, actually. The rest of his mental faculties, not so much.

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Old 28th July 2010, 03:48 AM   #227
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Sorry, I've quiet recently, I've been really busy with real world distractions. Although I have been looking through some the the documents relating to Gauci, the sheer complex nature of this apparent sale from Mary's House, Tony's recollection (which I agree, appears quite remarkable!) of a sale nine months after the fact and the clothing that was recovered and then subsequently said to be wrapped around the bomb, some of which contained parts of the bomb device, is just mind boggling.

One thing that does keep on rendering me with head-in-my-hands type moments, is this first list given by Tony, including not only this astonishing piece of memory recall of the clothing he sold, but also his apparent on the nose recollection of the actual price he charged the buyer and the change given. £M76.50, giving the buyer £m4 change, and he also recalls, because he did not have any .50's. Which his original recollection of the sale compares with exactly.

Originally Posted by Tony Gauci
three pairs of pyjamas
Anglia tweed jacket size 42
brown check Yorkie trousers size 34
lighter brown trousers size 36
blue babygro size 2 years
black umbrella
cardigan

Price: £M76.50
It's notable, I think, that the very crucial Slalom shirt which produced all the incriminating evidence discovered by Hayes, isn't mentioned by Gauci in this initial listing. To further undermine Tony's amazing recollection, this also doesn't then square with the items which were later discovered to have been sold from Mary's House and showed signs of bomb damage and would indicate the price would be completely different.

Quote:
white cotton Abanderado t-shirt
brown check Yorkie trousers, size 34
grey Slalom shirt
blue pin-strip Slalom shirt
herringbone Yorkie trousers
Anglia jacket
cream pyjamas with a brown striped pattern
brown woollen Puccini cardigan
black nylon umbrella
Blue Babygro
I also picked up on this interesting piece in an article from The Sunday Times, 30th September 1990.

I'm trying to see any correlation between the statement given by Feraday below, Tony's recollection and, believe it or not, B8849 or Bedfords bags at Heathrow. Jeez...long shot doesn't come close I know, but hey given what's going on here, who knows?

Originally Posted by The Sunday Times
BETWEEN the rows there was important progress. By August, after months of painstaking work, Hayes and Feraday had drawn up a detailed list of clothing that had been with the bomb in the suitcase. This gave the police the strongest clue yet to its owner.

The clothing included a white singlet; brown tartan trousers marked ''Yorkie, size 34''; a grey shirt or blouse; a blue and white pin-striped shirt or blouse; a grey herringbone pattern jacket; a coarse herringbone pattern skirt, a cream and brown striped jacket and a blue Babygro romper babysuit. They all showed scorch marks. Fibres from them had been fused into parts of the Samsonite suitcase. The Babygro provided the single most important lead in the whole inquiry. It was labelled ''Malta Trading Company''.

Rarde had also identified a second category of bomb-damaged clothes. None of the clothing showed traces of the radio bomb or the Samsonite suitcase. But the damage was so intense that the clothes must have been inside or at least very close to the bomb suitcase.

These other clothes included: a pair of white jogging trousers or longjohns; a multicoloured headscarf; a purple sweatshirt; a tartan pattern grey jacket a white singlet, a white bra and part of a green slip- on tennis shoe. Most revealing of all was a pair of cream jogging trousers marked "Noonan". The passenger list revealed that Karen Elizabeth Noonan, a 20-year-old American student from Potomac, Maryland, had been on board. Her background revealed she had spent time in Vienna and had befriended an Arab called Bilbassi.

The point did not escape Hayes. "We are therefore able to conclude," he wrote, "that all of the above clothing, much of which could be regarded as lady's clothing, could have originated from within the prime suitcase and, in the case of the first listing above, in all probability did originate from within the prime suitcase,." Had Noonan been a "mule"?

Follow-up inquiries on the Babygro indicated it had been sold at outlets throughout Europe, including Dublin. Noonan had been to Dublin just weeks before the bombing to watch her college team play football.

Hayes's memo caused a stir of excitement at the Lockerbie Academy. During one of his daily phone calls to Douglas Gow, the FBI's supervisory officer in Washington, Orr made it clear that the Noonan lead was the strongest yet, Gow agreed. Noonan fitted the profile of a "mule" perfectly. Could she provide the answer the Scots were looking for?

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Old 28th July 2010, 06:02 AM   #228
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Aaaagggghhhh!!!! I agree, is there a head-in-hands smilie?

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Sorry, I've quiet recently, I've been really busy with real world distractions. Although I have been looking through some the the documents relating to Gauci, the sheer complex nature of this apparent sale from Mary's House, Tony's recollection (which I agree, appears quite remarkable!) of a sale nine months after the fact and the clothing that was recovered and then subsequently said to be wrapped around the bomb, some of which contained parts of the bomb device, is just mind boggling.

One thing that does keep on rendering me with head-in-my-hands type moments, is this first list given by Tony, including not only this astonishing piece of memory recall of the clothing he sold, but also his apparent on the nose recollection of the actual price he charged the buyer and the change given. £M76.50, giving the buyer £m4 change, and he also recalls, because he did not have any .50's. Which his original recollection of the sale compares with exactly.

I don't put too much emphasis on the apparent recollection of the bill. I think Tony is pricing these items up on the spot, and deriving his account of the monetary transaction from that. I suspect he might have had a general recollection of that part of the sale (or a sale anyway!), but derived the detail from the price he added up in his head for the list of garmants he'd remembered.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
It's notable, I think, that the very crucial Slalom shirt which produced all the incriminating evidence discovered by Hayes, isn't mentioned by Gauci in this initial listing. To further undermine Tony's amazing recollection, this also doesn't then square with the items which were later discovered to have been sold from Mary's House and showed signs of bomb damage and would indicate the price would be completely different.

I read one of Edwin's "MISSION: LOCKERBIE" posts where he makes exactly that point. At first Tony is quite certain that no shirts were sold. He holds to that for a while, but the detectives note he actually stocks Slalom shirts similar to the blast-damaged one. They bought a couple themselves, as I recall. After that, Tony suddenly changes his mind. "I remember now, I did sell that man a shirt!" Or maybe it was two shirts, to match the forensic findings. As Edwin noted, that would have altered the bill quite substantially, undermining the original recollection.

There is at least a suspicion that the detectives are keen to get Tony to admit to that Slalom shirt, because of the important findings within it. All the judges did with this was to say he must have been telling the truth, because if he had just been following the hints the detectives were giving him he would have "remembered" selling an Abanderado t-shirt as well, which he never did, although he had them in stock too.

I think Tony's initial statement, or couple of statements, are likely to be nearest to the truth. They were the first recollection, unsullied by the editing process that happens when we remember a memory and then remember our memory of the memory. In addition, there came a point where he was obviously "trying to please". Money appears to have been mentioned. He was taken on a fishing trip to Scotland, and stayed in the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow, according to one account.

It became obvious that the detectives wanted him to remember selling a Slalom shirt. He remembers the detectives buying Slalom shirts. Memories become confused, and he's quite keen to tell the detectives what they want to hear. So, the man did buy Slalom shirts! (Did they press him so hard on the Abanderado t-shirt, I wonder? Probably not.)

I don't really know what to make of all this, except to note that according to Crawford there was at least one piece of Slalom shirt among the blast-damaged items he examined in August, before Tony was interviewed, although he only remembered the pocket with the name on it, not the collar. It's not impossible the shirt collar was a perfectly legitimate piece of evidence, but the debris within it was added. (Remember the label change?) Then, damn, it wasn't on Tony's list. But someone wanted to tidy that bit up.

Did the mystery shopper really buy the shirts and the t-shirt, but Tony forgot? And he was mistaken about the price to start with because of that, and he got the price by adding up the things he did remember? Or did the shirts and t-shirt have a different origin? Not impossible of course, but it's interesting that they were actually in stock at Mary's House.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
I also picked up on this interesting piece in an article from The Sunday Times, 30th September 1990.

I'm trying to see any correlation between the statement given by Feraday below, Tony's recollection and, believe it or not, B8849 or Bedfords bags at Heathrow. Jeez...long shot doesn't come close I know, but hey given what's going on here, who knows?

It looks as if, even at this stage, there's confusion between Karen Noonan's suitcase, which was eventually determined to have been under the bomb suitcase, and the bomb suitcase itself, because Karen's luggage had also caught the blast quite significantly. At the moment I'm inclined to put the "Karen was a mule" theory down as one of these good ideas that turned out to be wrong.

However, I do wonder whether the eventual list of items thought to be in the bomb suitcase was edited a bit to match Tony's recollections. They could hardly edit out the Slalom shirt just because he didn't remember selling it though!

Rolfe.
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Old 28th July 2010, 06:11 AM   #229
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EDITED TO DELETE QUOTE Rolfe it was too large.

It was post 204.

Rolfe.
I have only read as far as the quote above so far, so if what isay is covered further on then its a double up.

I used to have a retail outlet 20 years ago.
And i can still remember lots of purchases customers made.

See the human mind remembers highlights, i.e. in business a profitable trade, or a sneaky/opportunistic trade.

Example.
Woman comes in looking at the speedo swim suits for children size 32.
turns out she bought one for younger daughter the week before, and cannot buy for one without the other, i now know she has a 12 yr old and an 8 yr old by the sizes of costumes she bought, i also knew the kids favourite colours by them both getting identical speedos.
So i steered her to a different area of the shop on her way out, to ask what she thought of these NEWLY in stock nike shell suits and what she saw was all i had etc.
She walked out having spent £56.97 after walking in wanting to spend £6.99
and nearly out the door having spent only £6.99.

Theres dozens i could tell you, my point is theres 1000s i cannot remember, and i for sure would not know the woman again if she was stood next to me, the shop keeper may have had the same reason to remember the sale as they haggle alot in that part of the world, and he would remember a full price unhaggled profit/sale maybe more than many others.

eta.
When i was working the business i could at any point of described dozens upon dozens of sales over the preceeding 12 months accurately.
The people who purchased were not important and i wouldnt of been able to remember many of them, to describe them accurately either, they were just customers, it was the sale i would remember not the person in most cases.

So its not as amazing to me as it is to you, that he remembered the items and the numbers.

Right back to catching up.
Good stuff.

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Old 28th July 2010, 07:34 AM   #230
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Originally Posted by manxman View Post
[....] and i for sure would not know the woman again if she was stood next to me, the shop keeper may have had the same reason to remember the sale [....] The people who purchased were not important and i wouldnt of been able to remember many of them, to describe them accurately either, they were just customers, it was the sale i would remember not the person in most cases.

So its not as amazing to me as it is to you, that he remembered the items and the numbers.

I'm getting my head round it, as the evidence suggests he really remembered it. Though as I said, I'm not so convinced he remembered the price as the statement has the air of someone working out the bill as he's going.

However, I think he also remembered the customer more than you think you would have remembered yours. Tony sold mainly adult clothes, and he believed he was looking at a man buying for himself. At one point in the account he asks what sort of size the man wants, and gets the answer, about my size.

The description is the sort of information that would be retained by someone sizing up a customer to get clothes of the right fit. So, 6 feet tall, the 42" jacket (the largest he had in stock at the time) would actually have been too small, 36" waist and 17" collar. Big chest but not fat or paunchy, big head. When asked to estimate age, he says about 50.

This was Tony's job, to pick out clothes that would fit the customer. He didn't take a measuring tape to the man, but he estimated the measurements and retained these. What are the chances that lot was wildly out? I'd say slim (unlike the customer!).

He never, ever, said a word about the man's face beyond that he was clean-shaven. The two images he produced actually look like two different people. One of them looks quite like Megrahi, but the other one looks quite like Abu Talb come to that. Both of them look quite like a helluva lot of people when you get down to it - they're generic faces.

Trying to get Tony to remember that man's face was probably a futile exercise from the outset. He hadn't retained that information. But if you look at the information he did retain, and match it up to Megrahi, it's nowhere close. Megrahi, 36 and 5' 8" tall. I don't know his measurements, but he doesn't have a big chest and I think these estimates are all significantly larger than he is. I think the word "burly" was used to describe the purchaser at one stage, and again, Megrahi was never burly. It would have been interesting to see a set of clothes measurements for him from 1988, and I'm betting there's a big discrepancy.

The age is especially important, because Tony was in his early 40s at the time. So his estimate of 50 was a clear signal that he perceived the purchaser was older than he was. Megrahi was 36. Not only was he out by 14 years, the older/younger error makes it an extremely unlikely identification.

And that's before you take into account the fact that the day of the purchase pretty much can't have been 7th December, because it actually wasn't raining on 7th December!!! A 10% chance of "a few drops, not enough to wet the ground" doesn't magically allow you to decide it was 7th December after all, Noble Lords. And of course the Christmas lights also say 7th December was too late.

So not only is the desription all wrong, the court decision that it was Megrahi all along even though Tony only testified to him "resembling" the customer, because the date was 7th December and the other assumptions they were making about the bomb going on at Luqa and so on, is simply bananas. It wasn't him, because the only day it could have been him, was not the day it happened!

This is making me feel quite bad, to be honest. Have you read this?
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/925/0085963.pdf
Go to what seems to be page 16 of the pdf or page no. 11 of the document for a scan of Megrahi's hand-written letter to Kenny MacAskill.

I just wrote a letter to the Herald, which they may or may not print, including the following.

Originally Posted by Me IRL
Our criminal justice system and we as a nation are guilty of a far worse crime than taking international relations and trade deals into account when releasing a foreign prisoner. We have convicted a man on evidence that wouldn’t support the issuing of a parking ticket, imprisoned him 1,800 miles from home and family, and turned him into an international hate figure while he is in the terminal stages of aggressive prostate cancer.

This to me is the real scandal of Lockerbie, and these constant demonisations of "the Lockerbie bomber" and calls to drag a dying man back to prison because he hasn't had the tact to die quickly enough, are absolutely sickening.

Rolfe.
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Old 28th July 2010, 12:17 PM   #231
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I don't put too much emphasis on the apparent recollection of the bill. I think Tony is pricing these items up on the spot, and deriving his account of the monetary transaction from that. I suspect he might have had a general recollection of that part of the sale (or a sale anyway!), but derived the detail from the price he added up in his head for the list of garmants he'd remembered.

I read one of Edwin's "MISSION: LOCKERBIE" posts where he makes exactly that point. At first Tony is quite certain that no shirts were sold. He holds to that for a while, but the detectives note he actually stocks Slalom shirts similar to the blast-damaged one. They bought a couple themselves, as I recall. After that, Tony suddenly changes his mind. "I remember now, I did sell that man a shirt!" Or maybe it was two shirts, to match the forensic findings. As Edwin noted, that would have altered the bill quite substantially, undermining the original recollection.

There is at least a suspicion that the detectives are keen to get Tony to admit to that Slalom shirt, because of the important findings within it. All the judges did with this was to say he must have been telling the truth, because if he had just been following the hints the detectives were giving him he would have "remembered" selling an Abanderado t-shirt as well, which he never did, although he had them in stock too.

I think Tony's initial statement, or couple of statements, are likely to be nearest to the truth. They were the first recollection, unsullied by the editing process that happens when we remember a memory and then remember our memory of the memory. In addition, there came a point where he was obviously "trying to please". Money appears to have been mentioned. He was taken on a fishing trip to Scotland, and stayed in the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow, according to one account.

It became obvious that the detectives wanted him to remember selling a Slalom shirt. He remembers the detectives buying Slalom shirts. Memories become confused, and he's quite keen to tell the detectives what they want to hear. So, the man did buy Slalom shirts! (Did they press him so hard on the Abanderado t-shirt, I wonder? Probably not.)

I don't really know what to make of all this, except to note that according to Crawford there was at least one piece of Slalom shirt among the blast-damaged items he examined in August, before Tony was interviewed, although he only remembered the pocket with the name on it, not the collar. It's not impossible the shirt collar was a perfectly legitimate piece of evidence, but the debris within it was added. (Remember the label change?) Then, damn, it wasn't on Tony's list. But someone wanted to tidy that bit up.

Did the mystery shopper really buy the shirts and the t-shirt, but Tony forgot? And he was mistaken about the price to start with because of that, and he got the price by adding up the things he did remember? Or did the shirts and t-shirt have a different origin? Not impossible of course, but it's interesting that they were actually in stock at Mary's House.
I wouldn't normally put that much significance on the price Tony quoted myself, and I agree he is probably adding as he goes through the list but there is something else bothering me about it. Specifically, the fact he draws a direct association with remembering the sale of the clothes, the price, and most curiously the change he gave. Or couldn't give to be exact. It is as if the change he gave, and the lack of .50's, was as much a prompter for him in recollecting this rather odd sale, and the sale was itself odd. This odd purchase made in late november is directly associated, and perhaps even more memorable, because precisely on this irregular sale, he offered a reduction in the jacket he wanted rid of, and on conclusion of the sale, he was also out of the change required and could only provide the buyer with notes in return for payment.

So, yes, he does appear to have a very good memory, maybe not for life's everyday occurrences, but for this rather peculiar sale in his shop, the total price, the money given by the buyer, which is all further supported by the fact he could also not provide the correct change. And if these two instances are of the same sale and buyer, then they could not have also purchased anything not on that initial list and statement Tony gave, as that would indicate a completely different price, substantially more in fact, and surely the chances of the wholly different price resulting in the same scenario of Tony not having the correct change is unlikely?

Or am I just clutching at straws here??


Quote:
It looks as if, even at this stage, there's confusion between Karen Noonan's suitcase, which was eventually determined to have been under the bomb suitcase, and the bomb suitcase itself, because Karen's luggage had also caught the blast quite significantly. At the moment I'm inclined to put the "Karen was a mule" theory down as one of these good ideas that turned out to be wrong.

However, I do wonder whether the eventual list of items thought to be in the bomb suitcase was edited a bit to match Tony's recollections. They could hardly edit out the Slalom shirt just because he didn't remember selling it though!

Rolfe.
Yes, I completely agree that Noonan's bag being inserted or substituted with the bomb bag simply an early excitable notion, or lead, that the investigators had thought about. However, I think Feraday's comments in which he says Noonan's clothing "could have originated from within the prime suitcase" due to the severity of the damage sustained, although contained no remnants of radio or samsonite are slightly strange. Not because I think it was in the primary suitcase myself, but there's something about this that bothers me. I can't quite put my finger on it yet. Maybe it's just becasue it's Feraday, and I don't really trust just about anything he says...
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Old 30th July 2010, 03:13 PM   #232
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I absolutely see your point about the amount of the bill and the change. I suppose it could have been £86 or even £96, and he recalled £76 because he'd forgotten about a couple of items. I'm not so sure about £96 either, because it's so close to £100 I'd have thought he'd have remembered.

Edwin seems to know how much Slalom shirts cost, I'm sure he actually covered this.

It's all very very peculiar, and every time I see how close Tony's list is to the RARDE list of what was in the bomb bag, my jaw drops. However, I can't see any other explanation than that the sale was really made and Tony really remembered it and the purchases ended up in that Samsonite suitcase. The shirts may just have to be a loose end.

The best I can do with this is the suggestion that the purchase was intended to be conspicuous and traceable and remembered, as a potential timewaster and misdirection in the event the clothes were recovered and traced to the island. If the bomb was really introduced a thousand miles away, it makes some sort of sense. Then the investigators noticed tray B8849 and Abdusamad, and ran with it.

Or else they only noticed Abdusamad, and ran with it. I really don't know.

Rolfe.
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Old 17th November 2010, 05:04 AM   #233
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New beginning - was Megrahi really the purchaser?

I'm bumping this thread because Bunntamas has said she would like to support the proposition that it was indeed Megrahi who bought these clothes. This seems to be the best place for a focussed discussion of this particular point.

Important references include

Tony Gauci's first witness statement
Professor Steve Clark's expert witness report
Professor Timothy Valentine's expert witness report

Rolfe.
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Old 17th November 2010, 03:47 PM   #234
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Quote:
Here's a question / proposition to ponder: Think about the last time you visited a business establishment with which you have no relationship, and don't know the proprietor. You purchased a good number of things, and the proprietor helped you ambulate said purchases to your taxi. 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?
I for one would be absolutely useless - I'd have to refer questioners to written records made closer to the event. Gauci did the same at one point.

Quote:
In my opinion, Gauci did a very good job of describing the purchaser, more than a decade after the events
I'm not so sure. When Gauci was first interviewed by the police about 9 months after the event, he described the purchaser as over six feet tall and about 50 years old. In court this became "below six feet" and "under 60."

In 1989, Gauci volunteered the man's collar size and waist measurement, and said that a 42in jacket would have been too small for him. The witness David Wright, a friend of Gauci's, said that Gauci claimed to be able to judge a person's size by looking at them - not surprising in a clothier. In court he said repeatedly that he didn't have such expertise.

There seems to be a discrepancy here - either Gauci's memory is very hazy, or he is doing his best to move his evidence in line with the Crown's case.

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Old 17th November 2010, 04:35 PM   #235
Caustic Logic
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Originally Posted by pete2 View Post
I for one would be absolutely useless - I'd have to refer questioners to written records made closer to the event. Gauci did the same at one point.
A point I'm not familiar with. Thanks for comment 3, Pete.

Quote:
When Gauci was first interviewed by the police about 9 months after the event, he described the purchaser as over six feet tall and about 50 years old. In court this became "below six feet" and "under 60."
He even got the two mixed up at one point, which could be consistent with a mnemonic mantra "below six, under 60, below 6, under 60..."

Quote:
In 1989, Gauci volunteered the man's collar size and waist measurement, and said that a 42in jacket would have been too small for him. The witness David Wright, a friend of Gauci's, said that Gauci claimed to be able to judge a person's size by looking at them - not surprising in a clothier. In court he said repeatedly that he didn't have such expertise.
Luckily common sense says the same thing, because Mr. Wright's story, of TWO Libyan buyers, one of which he later saw on TV, is rather dubious, as I recall thinking after looking at it once.

Since this is being re-started from elsewnere, I should repeat that, like Rolfe, I'd be convinced or at least highly troubled in my belief in Megrahi's innocence - if I were persuaded that he was really the clothes buyer, or even could well have been. And Bunntamas is under time pressures, so anyone else can hop in. A Google search will actually reveal a lot to help anyone find some of the relevant facts and try to help.

I'd also advise other members and readers that if it can be shown Megrahi bought those clothes, he'd got to have been involved in the bombing. I'm just waiting for an evidence-based reason to believe or recommend that, and hoping someone can put it forth or point me to an existing one that I haven't seen yet.

The three points for me that I'd have to be re-educated on are:
1) The discrepancies in height and age between the buyer as described in police interviews, as described in court, and as Megrahi was.
2) The discrepancy between nil rainfall in weather records with enough to warrant the purchaser buying an umbrella
3) The absence of Christmas decorations in Tony's staements. As a memory backdrop it seems important to me - 7pm early winter dark, or 7pm pre-Christmas lit-up cheer? Having a hard time seeing him get that wrong in '89, but closer to correct, if confused, at trial in 2000.

I might add, there are "bonus points" for anyone who can find any statement by Gauci, anywhere, to the effect that "that man, Megrahi, IS the man who bought the clothes." Reference to one person only, not to similarities between two separate men. Even just a language-based argument that X quote actually might be a definitive ID.

So that's four concrete suggestions on the most important points to convince me. Even one might do it, depending.

Thanks.
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Old 17th November 2010, 04:59 PM   #236
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Hey, Pete2 made a third post!

You make an excellent point, Pete. We have to keep the timeline in mind, constantly.
  • Late November / early December 1988, Tony sells these clothes to the man who was almost certainly one of the terrorist gang who bombed Pan Am 103.
  • September 1989, Tony is approached by the Scottish police, it is established that he made that sale and recalls the incident, and he gives his freshest memories of the whole thing.
  • From then to September 1990, Tony gives 13 separate statements to the police as they try to get an ID on the purchaser, including viewing a number of photospreads and identifying both Mohamed Salem and Abu Talb as "resembling" the purchaser. No mention at all of Megrahi during this period.
  • February 1991, Tony is shown a photospread which includes a picture of Megrahi, the first time Megrahi was introduced into the equation.
  • April 1999, Tony is taken to Zeist to view a lineup including Megrahi.
  • July 2000, Tony comes face-to-face with Megrahi in the court room.
Tony's original description of the man, given without prompting or any reference to pictures (and apparently when the police had no specific suspect in mind) was as follows. This was nine months after the event, not ten years.
  • 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)
  • About 50 years old
  • 36" waist
  • 16½ to 17" collar size
I think it's reasonable to believe Tony wasn't simply making this up. His memory of the clothes he sold this man is far too close a match to what was actually found blast-damaged to be coincidence or invention. This indicates he did actually have a fair recollection of that remarkably memorable sale. Consequently, I would credit him with also having a fair recollection of the purchaser.

In particular, it seems from Tony's statement that he believed the customer was buying clothes for himself, and as a result he estimated the man's size as regards fit (and was surprised that the man was buying clothes that would not have fitted him).

So yes, I'm prepared to believe Tony was able to recall and describe the purchaser, even though nine months had passed.

The thing is, that description does not match Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. One or two points do match (Libyan, black hair, not fat or paunchy, clean-shaven). However as soon as Tony gets down to specifics (height, age, body shape and build), it's somebody completely different.

Rolfe.
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Old 17th November 2010, 04:59 PM   #237
Caustic Logic
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And it might help to copy this over:

What I have for 7 Dec. is this, Silema and Luqa airport highlighted. It's not a detailed hour-by-hour tally, but all-day totals. TR at the airport, trace rainfall, nothing at all in Silema, daiily total, or at least not enough to measure as TR.

If I'm not mistaken, Maj. Mifsud explained that "trace" means readings below 0.5 mm of rainfall. I don't know what the lower threshold is. Higher numbers are recorded as their own numbers.

On 23 November there was no downpour recorded for Silema. As I recall, (no time to go back and double-check) there was 0.6mm of rain. I think that however is an hourly, not daily tally, and for the hour of the purchase, if it were that day.

So, we have no problem with an hour's rain of 0.6mm, falling just wherever it does within that hour, could make a guy want to buy an umbrella.

What we don't know is the lowest threshold of TR is. If you could show that it only covered say 0.4 to 0.499, then up to 0.4 could fall on Silema at around 7 pm and still not register. And if 0.6 could do the trick for us, 0.4 might, and 7 December could be the day.

I know that's specialized knowledge, but on the off-chance you do know that, maybe from one of the many previous goings-over....

And for that matter we don't have a scientific criteria for just when someone decides they need an umbrella. It is highly subjective, but I think it's reasonable that some rain would be a good cause. How much? Not enough I think, even hypothetically. Not when the chart says, in effect, not even a trace, all day and almost island-wide.
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Old 17th November 2010, 05:24 PM   #238
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Tony changed his story a few times, but in the earliest version it is Tony himself who suggests the umbrella as a possible purchase, without giving any reason for this. However, when the customer has finished selecting his purchases, he then leaves, saying he has other shops to go to, but he leaves the clothes with Tony so that Tony can wrap them up.

He doesn't leave the umbrella though, he takes that with him and opens it as he leaves the shop. Because it "was raining". No qualification at this time as to how light or heavy the rain was, just that it was heavy enough to prompt the customer to open the umbrella.

Later, it seems to be established that it wasn't pouring heavily, more of a light rain or drizzle. But still enough to prompt the customer to take the umbrella with him and open it as he left the shop.

Meteorological records for 7th December, the only day when it would have been possible for Megrahi to have bought the clothes?

Zero
Zilch
Nil
Nada.

No rain fell at all at Luqa, three whole miles away. It was completely dry.

Is it possible, Major Mifsud, that even though no rain was recorded at Luqa, it might in fact have been raining in Sliema? Major Mifsud replies that to a 90% confidence level he's sure there was no rain at Sliema either.

But that means there's a 10% chance it did rain at Sliema! Major Mifsud replies that if it did, and remember he's 90% sure it really didn't, but if it did, it would only have been a few drops, not enough to wet the ground.

In contrast, the day which seems to fit the description of the purchase day in most other respects, 23rd November, has meteorological records of light rain at exactly the time Tony recalls selling the clothes.

Rolfe.
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Old 17th November 2010, 05:31 PM   #239
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Here's a picture of Megrahi, from about five years after the clothes purchase. It seems to be a decent likeness.



Unfortunately I don't know of one showing his general build from that time, but he's 5 feet 8 inches tall, and as we've noted, he was 36 years old at the time of the purchase (41 in this picture I believe). He's never been described as well built, burly, hefty or any of the other terms used in connection with Tony's statement. He does not appear to have a particularly large head or chest. He's not even noticeably dark-skinned.

He is, however, rather generic. He has no particularly distinguishing features, not even Fhimah's moustache. Once you have Arab, clean-shaven, and the hair style, the description could fit about a squillion other people.

And similarly, the description of about a squillion other people could fit him, especially if you take no notice of most of the distinguishing features in the description (such as height and age and build).

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Old 17th November 2010, 06:37 PM   #240
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If you look at the series of statements Tony made over the year September 1989 to September 1990 (going by other reports of the statements because as far as I know they haven't been published in their entirety), a few things stand out.

First, Tony picked out at least three individuals from photospreads - Mohamed Salam, Abu Talb and Megrahi. On each occasion he only said these people resembled the purchaser, never that any of them was the purchaser. Indeed, he said Mohamed Salem wasn't the purchaser, but his identification of Abu Talb was no less confident than his identification of Megrahi - indeed, at one point he said that Abu Talb looked more like the purchaser than Megrahi did.

As has been observed elsewhere, if the cops had gone on showing him pictures of people who more or less fitted the facial description of the purchaser, Tony would probably have gone on picking out more people. However, once they'd got him to make the "resembles" identification on Megrahi they dropped everything else (including Abu Talb, in spite of his even closer resemblance) and homed in on Megrahi.

Second, the police NEVER showed Tony any photos of men around the age of 50. They always used pictures of younger men. It's possible this is because all the suspect bombers they had in mind were younger. In the photospread of 15th February 1991, all but two men were younger than Megrahi (who was himself 14 years younger than Tony's description of the purchaser), and these two were Chilean! Megrahi (14 years younger than the man Tony was trying to identify), was "years older than any of the Middle Eastern individuals in the lineup" (Clark).

Tony declined to pick any of these pictures, saying that they were all too young. Proper procedure should have dictated this was recorded as a non-identification, but instead Tony was told to look again and pick someone. That's when he picked Megrahi, but only saying that of these photos, Megrahi was the person who looked most like the purchaser, BUT THAT HE WAS AT LEAST TEN YEARS TOO YOUNG.

This was the basis of the physical identification. It didn't get any better after that, with Tony learning what Megrahi looked like from various magazine articles which identified him as the accused, and yet still never saying any more than that he resembled the purchaser, or that of the group of people he was presented with, Megrahi looked most like the purchaser. The theme of using "foils" or "fillers" who were substantially younger than Megrahi, and/or of quite different ethnicity, continued.

And frankly, such had been the publicity, that half the population of Zeist could probably have reliably picked Megrahi out of a line-up at that point.

Then, what did Tony say in the witness box?

Quote:
[Referring to the identity parade of April 1999.]
Q Mr. Gauci, you can see there a page that's headed "witness sheet" and it has your name at the top of the page. Do you see that?
A Yes, I can see it on top. Sorry.
Q And can you see a paragraph number 4 towards the bottom of the page?
A Yes.
Q And we can see that the police officer has written in the words that you spoke in response to the question that you were asked. And does it appear that he has written: Not exactly the man I saw in the shop ten years ago. I saw him, but the man who look a little bit like exactly is the number five.
Do you remember saying those words?
A Yes. I think it was number five.

[Followed by the dock identification - usually a formality, as there's actually no doubt who the witness should be picking out at this point.]
Q Mr. Gauci, I wonder if now you would take a moment to look around this courtroom and tell me if you see the man who bought the clothing in your shop in 1988 in court here today.
A He is the man on this side. He resembles him a lot. On this side, on my side.
Q And when you say on your side, could you indicate by pointing to the man you are talking about.
A This side.
Q You are pointing to the -- towards your left-hand side?
A Yes, exactly.
Q I wonder if you could point to the man directly to whom you are referring, please.
A That gentleman over there.
Q Now, there are a number of rows of people sitting. You can see three rows, a row near you, a row in the centre, and a row at the back. Which row is the man sitting in?
A The last row.
Q Do you see police officers sitting in the last row?
A Yes. Yes, next to him.
Q Next to the police officer. Now, there are two men sitting between the police officers. Which one are you referring to?
A Not the dark one. The other one; that is, not the dark one, the one next to him. That is the man I see resembles the man who came.
Q You can see that of the two gentlemen sitting between the police officers, one is wearing glasses and one is not wearing glasses. Which is the man you are talking about?
A The one -- the man without glasses.

This is a positive identification? In anybody's book?

Rolfe.
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