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

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Old 5th July 2010, 06:56 AM   #361
Rolfe
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Originally Posted by The Independent
Last February, the West German federal police, the BKA, obtained a copy of a list from Frankfurt airport's handling authority showing that the suitcase now known to have contained the bomb was checked through Frankfurt from Malta and onto Pan Am flight 103 to London and Miami. The BKA did not pass on this list to the Scots until August, after the Royal Armaments Research and Development Establishment at Fort Halstead, in Kent, had established that various items of clothing manufactured in Malta were in the suitcase with the bomb.

I'd like to know when the Maltese provenance of these clothes was known to the investigation, as opposed to the press. According to Lester Coleman, the D&G detectives knew about it as early as March 1989, which isn't unreasonable considering the "Made in Malta" label on the babygro was preserved and legible. Coleman states that the Scottish detectives went to Malta in March to try to trace these clothes, and went to the factory, but were given a list of hundreds of retail outlets right across western Europe. Seeing this, they decided it was mission impossible, and gave up on trying to follow up so many leads in the hope that one shopkeeper might remember a particular purchase.

Again according to Coleman, it was the revelation of tray B8849 on 17th August that re-ignited the interest in the Maltese clothes, because it raised the possibility that the clothes had not only been manufactured in Malta but also purchased in Malta. This time when the detectives returned to the island they were led almost immediately to Gauci, and interviewed him on 1st September.

I'm sure all this is available somewhere, possibly in Crawford's book.

This may be Coleman trying to make a conspiracy out of nothing, but his facts are often accurate and I do wonder which sequence of events is correct. If the Scots had the Yorkie trousers of the very small manufacturing run which was only supplied to Mary's House when they visited in March, it's odd that they weren't told about that at the time. On the other hand if they only had the babygro at that stage, and that was widely supplied, then that could explain it.

The sheer luck of these Yorkie trousers is another facer as regards the evidence in this case. If it's really the case that very few were made in that pattern and all these were supplied to Mary's House, and then a recognisable piece of exactly that garment was picked up from the grass - well, wow again. This is on a par with losing all the baggage records and then discovering that Bogomira happened to keep exactly the right extract just when you need it.

Coleman highlights the different experiences of the detectives in the two visits. First time, well officers, the clothes could have been bought anywhere really, sorry, can't really narrow it down for you. Second visit, we've got a shopkeeper we'd like you to meet.

Hmmm. Time to re-open the Mystery Shopper thread?

Rolfe.
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Old 5th July 2010, 04:31 PM   #362
Caustic Logic
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
I agree, and did say as much...
Ah, sorry. I wasn't at full grasp this morning.

So for Talb's clothes being "reportedly from Mary's House," I agree with Rolfe that no weight can be attached to it. It could be true, and there would be reasons we never heard it verified, so I suppose it should stay on file. And I see the Gauci thread is bumped, so I won't elaborate here. but Leppard said a lot of weird things, based on what people were telling him at different times. I do respect him - considering the shift he lived through, he handled it well (with surface jingoism that might have been camouflage) and let the seams show. I thank him for that, and had no idea he wrote an article in 2007. I will have to read that.

Some other excellent articles here. Very useful Public interest / fair use materials.
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Old 5th July 2010, 04:50 PM   #363
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I've just read Crawford's opiion of Leppard, and it's livid. "Bastard" is one word used. Apparently Leppard published an article in November 1989 while Crawford was in Malta, describing with great exactness the nature of the operation on Malta. Until then, they'd been keeping a low profile, pretending to be some sort of advance security detail for a royal visit. Crawford thinks Leppard put all their safety at risk, and basically hopes he burns in hell. He describes an American investigator who was so afraid he refused to leave his hotel until he was sent srtaight back to the USA. In addition, Crawford blames Leppard for possibly preventing them catching the perpetrators, who might still have been on the island, by tipping them off.

Crawford thinks there was a low-level mole leaking for money. Foot thinks Leppard was being briefed at rather a high level.

Rolfe.
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Old 5th July 2010, 04:50 PM   #364
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I've been ruminating on what you're saying here, and there's something we haven't really been emphasising. The BKA at Frankfurt must have been in the pockets of the CIA before this even started. We know the controlled drug deliveries made by circumventing Frankfurt security did happen - this is admitted. The story simply is that they weren't happening in December 1988. Such an undertaking inevitably requires co-operation between the CIA and the BKA.

Then again, we have the Autumn Leaves operation. The story goes that when Khreesat was arrested at that time, he made one phone call to his CIA handlers, and was promptly released by the BKA for "lack of evidence" - despite having been caught red-handed with an IED of his own making, obviously designed to bring down an airliner in flight. The implication is that the CIA said "release this guy", and the BKA complied. This was only a couple of months before the Lockerbie crash.

It's not that surprising. Even in 1988 and early 1989, US influence in the former US zone of West Germany was strong. It's perfectly possible, indeed highly probable, that the CIA was in a position to direct the Frankfurt branch of the Lockerbie investigation as it saw fit, from day one. This surely colours what we're thinking about the disappearing baggage records, no?
Excellent angle to consider. CIA/NATO etc. Western Europe cooperation (including the "Gladio" networks, etc.) was always going on behind the scenes in "the West." It always seems the Americans and the british were the motivated ones when it came to the cover-up, but then we have the BKA apparently cooperating with this printout. Now that did point away from them, to Malta, so it could be just self-interest, but... augh, it's complex.

Anyway, I'm sure CIA-BKA-BND type cooperation played at least some role in all this. Perhaps a large role.
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Old 6th July 2010, 04:37 AM   #365
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While trawling Crawford's tedious prose for information about the clothing, I found something about the Erac printout.

Originally Posted by John Crawford
Quite why they chose to hold back was a mystery; they had either been remiss in their investigations, or were trying to protect German interests in Frankfurt. They were not about to admit that a bomb had been through Frankfurt, which they had not managed to do anything with.

I tend to think it was the second reason given above, as it was known at LICC that they had been asked repeatedly for any computer list of luggage that had been loaded onto the flight 103 at Frankfurt and had consistently put off the request. The consequences of their actions were now coming home to roost.

The two Germans knew that the questions being asked by De Marco were very hard to answer and they tried to flannel their way out of it. Another mistake. They had no response whatsoever and were left with egg on their faces. It was extremely embarrassing and Pinsdorf was not best pleased with what he (correctly?) guessed had been a set up. His sidekick Tepp was on the receiving end of some stick from his boss.

This is one of the parts of Crawford's account that rings true. He was actually there, and it has a bearing on his main obsession - the obstacles put in the way of the investigation by participants who aren't the Scottish PC Plods. This does very much support the case that the Frankfurt BKA were deliberately covering something up.

Rolfe.
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Old 6th July 2010, 06:38 AM   #366
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This post is just whimsy. It can't be right, because it would be far too simple. Someone must have looked into this possibility and discounted it.

I'm coming back to the matter of the Maltese family who were on KM180 en route for America. Crawford mentions them as well, and it seems certain they existed. They were the family of an Air Malta employee, and according to most sources, embarking on "the holiday of a lifetime" to Florida. All sources state that this family was investigated and came up clean. Crawford mentions that they were definitely suspect, because the father could have had easy access to luggage tags. The sources are also unanimous that they flew directly to the USA from Frankfurt.

Here's what the article Buncrana found in the Independent says about this.

Originally Posted by David Black
Of the 39 people who flew out that morning, most would stop at Frankfurt. However, four were heading on for Prague, one to Dusseldorf, two to Munster, one to Bremen, and four for Miami who were originally booked on PA103.

They aroused suspicion after the bombing, especially as they were on the checked-in luggage list as having one bag among them. However, the group was the family of an Air Malta employee. They changed bookings on discovering a quicker flight with Lufthansa.

This was news to me. If it's correct, it opens an interesting line of speculation.

One of the other sources I was reading recently says Frankfurt airport had a problem with keeping track of baggage because passangers had the annoying habit of discovering an earlier flight and hopping on board it, even after their luggage had been checked for the later flight. Is that what the Maltese family did?

If in fact they changed their booking before they set off, and their luggage was tagged for the Lufthansa flight from the get-go, then this speculation is irrelevant. However, there is to me an implication there that they may have changed their flight when they got to Frankfurt. Remember, not only was there a four-hour stop-over at Frankfurt before PA103A left, that route also had the extra change of planes at Heathrow. If they were going to Miami, they would have had yet another change at JFK. If they found a direct Frankfurt-to-USA flight they could get on, it wouldn't just save time, it would save a changeover.

So if they did that, what happened to their suitcase? (I'm assuming this was probably a mother travelling with three children, which would explain the single suitcase.) We know their luggage arrived safely in the USA with them. That was stated in the first reference I came across to this family, and indeed if it had been found on the ground at Lockerbie we'd have heard about it. However, how did it get there?

If it was checked in at Luqa to go on PA103A, then it would still have had that tag on it when it came off that plane. If the family only found out about the more direct flight when they got into the terminal building at Frankfurt, then the bag would still have had the PA103A tag on it when it entered the baggage system. In which case it would have been coded at station 206 by Koca for that flight. Exactly as the mystery tray B8849 was coded.

Could B8849 have been that mother's suitcase?

Here's what the appeal judgement tells us about that changeover.

Quote:
Flight KM180 reached its parking position at 1248 hours on 21 December 1988. It was unloaded by employees of the airport authority. According to the record, the unloading took place between 1248 and 1300 hours. Andreas Schreiner, who was in charge of monitoring the arrival of baggage at V3 on that day, recorded on the interline writer’s sheet (production 1092) that one wagon of interline baggage from flight KM180 arrived at V3 at 1301 hours. A coder, Yasar Koca (who was not called as a witness), was working at station 206 in V3. He completed a worksheet (production 1061) which bore to show that one wagon of baggage from flight KM180 was coded at station 206 between 1304 hours and a later time which the trial court held to be 1310.

So, got on to the stand at 12.48, unloaded by 1pm, Schreiner recorded the interline baggage going past a minute later, and Koca coded it between 1.04 and 1.10. The passengers would hardly have had time to reach the terminal buildings and look around, never mind to have spotted an earlier/more direct flight and enquired if it was possible to transfer. Anything on that flight tagged for PA103A would inevitably have gone past Koca in that condition and been coded accordingly.

Looking at the printout, that tray is coded as having left the store at 3.17 and been deposited at the gate at 3.23. This is among the earliest bags to arrive at the PA103A gate, as the flight didn't leave till 4.53 - an hour and a half after the bag was delivered to the gate.

What happened next is also described in detail in the appeal judgement.

Quote:
[Mr Kasteleiner] exercised control over the baggage transport system at Frankfurt. Under reference to his log book for 21 December 1988, he confirmed that flight PA103A was to leave from position 44. At 1512 hours he had given the order to provide the luggage for that flight. His order resulted in the luggage being directed by the baggage transport system to the output point B44, a gate luggage room, where it was discharged. The destination of luggage for the flight in question had been changed at 1621 hours to B41, a different but nearby luggage room. Accordingly the luggage for the flight was extracted from the system at gates B44 and B41. It is clear from the evidence of Mr Kasteleiner that baggage for flight PA103A was extracted from the system and delivered to gate room B44 and latterly B41. However, he did not give evidence indicating, or from which it could be inferred, that that baggage was in fact loaded on to the relevant flight. Nor did he exclude the possibility that an item of baggage might have been left at the gate.

So, B8849 was one of the group of bags already in the store when Kasteleiner called for the luggage for the flight at 3.12. The system got it to gate B44 by 3.23, along with the other bags that had been in the store at that time. An hour later the departure gate was changed to B41, and presumably the luggage already at B44 was moved the short distance to the new gate at that point. It is not recorded whether or not Maier x-rayed this baggage before or after that move, but that's fairly irrelevant.

There's an awful lot of supposition going on as to whether luggage that arrived at these gates actually went on the plane. The court is left to infer that it did, from two other facts. First that Karen Noonan and Patricia Coyle's luggage, which was identified on the Erac printout, definitely did get loaded on the plane, and second that there was no record of anything being left behind. But what if the bag on tray B8849 was neither loaded, nor left behind?

I don't know what time the hypothetical Lufthansa flight left at, but even if it was about the same time as PA103A it would still be worth doing the transfer to avoid the change of planes at Heathrow - you'd save getting on for a couple of hours that way alone. So, supposing the Lufthansa flight left about four-ish. The Maltese family go to the Lufthansa customer services and get the transfer sorted out, but what about the luggage? Better to have the luggage come too, to save waiting for that at JFK.

How might that case be extracted from the central system and directed to the new flight? Probably, that was impossible. How could anyone tell which of the many trays coded for PA103A belonged to the Maltese family? You'd have to find out that you were looking for station 206, between 13.04 and 13.10, and even then if there was more than one passenger booked on that route, you're screwed. Far easier, if there's time, simply to wait till the case is delivered for the booked flight, then identify it manually and carry it round.

We know it was commonplace for luggage to be carried manually round the main baggage system at Frankfurt, where there was a short time before the departing flight. What is more likely than that Lufthansa sent one of their loaders to gate B44 some time between 3 and 3.30, to fetch that case and carry it directly to the Lufthansa departure gate?

I don't know how big a performance that would have been, but I suspect it's probably something that was done quite often. Often enough, possibly, that what with the delay in asking anyone about it, and the disappearing baggage records (which should presumably have recorded this sort of thing), and the later shifting of all the luggage from B44 to B41, nobody remembered that little detail?

Now I recognise that this is fantasy football. It's inevitable that this possibility would have been thought about by the investigators, and eliminated. Maybe the family was never booked on PA103A at all. Maybe they were, but they changed the booking before they checked in at Luqa that morning. Maybe they were, but their luggage was only checked-in as far as Frankfurt and they got it themselves at baggage reclaim before they enquired about the change of flights.

It's funny how the family disappears from the narrative though. Here's the appeal judgement again.

Quote:
No passenger on flight KM180 had an onward booking from Frankfurt to London or the United States. All the passengers on the flight retrieved their checked-in baggage at their destinations. The Malta documentation for flight KM180 did not record that any unaccompanied baggage was carried.

The bolded part obviously isn't true.

Nevertheless, 99.9% of me is certain that this theory is far too simple and obvious to have a hope of being right. The remaining 0.1% of me just wonders....

Rolfe.
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Old 6th July 2010, 05:07 PM   #367
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That's a really interesting theory Rolfe. Reading about this Miami-bound family a few times, there was something niggling, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I kept thinking, 'there's four of them and four doesn't relate to B8849, or anything else', but you've educed a very important point. A point that may well not have been considered by anyone, in the manner you suggest, given we're told "No passenger on flight KM180 had an onward booking from Frankfurt to London or the United States", when that's exactly the route the family were originally booked to take - until sometime mid-afternoon - on the 21st Dec.

Ok, so they actually ended up flying with the earlier Lufthansa flight to NY, but there certainly appears to be a 'passenger', or a party of four to be precise, who did fly KM180 via Frankfurt and onwards to the US, missing out the London change, but who were, to begin with, booked on the very route the Judges telll the world, no passenger was booked on.

A mother with 3 children and one piece of checked-in luggage sounds quite possible indeed, and an obscure detail that may well have been completely overlooked. Especially given what everyone had been led to believe the Judges gave as incontrovertible facts about passengers flying to the US from Malta. So, arriving at V3 at 1301 with the family's original itinerary still in place, B8849 is logged into the system, meanwhile at the check-in hall, the family are changing onto the direct Lufthansa fllight to the US (say anywhere between 1330-1400), and presumably that flight left either just before 103A or very shortly after it departed at about 1600 (Frankfurt time) for Heathrow (or would there really be that much point going through the trouble of changing to the Lufthansa flight if it were any later departing?).

It's already in the system, as B8849, and at the check-in desk the family are told, 'we'll do our best to get your bag onto your new flight with Lufthansa, but no guarantees..'. Even if it did then arrive on the Lufthansa flight with the family themselves, or via some other flight, would that rule out the possibility that it may well have still been logged into the system at V3 as tray B8849?

Now, as all the other records had vanished at Frankfurt, even if we're allowing for the fact that B8849 had reached B41 onto B44, we don't know for sure that it was then actually loaded onto 103A. Mind you, if it were noted at B44 by one of the computers or loaders, that as you suggest, it was removed by another baggage handler and taken to another gate, re-loaded onto another flight or the Lufthansa flight itself, then that sort of record most certainly couldn't be released by the German's, or the trail from Malta pointing at Megrahi being behind B8849 collapses.

Last edited by Buncrana; 6th July 2010 at 05:16 PM.
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Old 7th July 2010, 12:22 AM   #368
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Agreed. I'll need to go over it one more time, but a Mom and three kids going to Miami could account, quite elegantly, for how B8849 showed up in the first place. The forgery could be simply adding a chapter where it went to gate 44 (presumed loaded) instead of to wherever to be reassigned and leave the data file Bogomira accessed.

Spooky bit: I had flown on a jet myself the first time on Dec 20 or 21 1988, as a kid visiting family. That's why in part Lockerbie stood out for me, hearing about it the next morning. As it happened my first air journey took us to Miami. We might have bumped into those same people. Wish I could remember more now.

Awesome work, Rolfe.
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Old 7th July 2010, 03:11 AM   #369
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Mmm, I don't know. The idea that Mr. Taylor spent about two days at Camp Zeist trying to persuade the judges that B8849 might have come from Damascus, or Warsaw, or been coded in by someone else as a single unrecorded item, when it was that simple all along, is a bit much to swallow. The idea that Megrahi spent eight years in jail on account of B8849 (OK it wasn't just that but I suspect there would have been no conviction without that piece of the puzzle), when it was as simple as that, is pretty much ridiculous on the face of it. He had a whole defence team running round analysing the evidence, I find it almost inconceivable nobody would have spotted this.

I would, however, feel much more confident if someone could tell me what actually happened to that family's baggage that day - how it was tagged, what route it actually took through Frankfurt and so on. You see, all I've read about has been assertions that these people had nothing to do with infiltrating a bomb into the system. Which may have been a natural immediate assumption, especially with the father having easy access to Air Malta luggage tags. What an elegant way to do it! Check in at Luqa for PA103A, let your luggage go into the system, then switch flights at Frankfurt so that you personally are on a different aeroplane.

I think that was the original hypothesis when that family was identified. However, they turned out to be reassuringly normal. They were going to spend Christmas at Disneyworld, as far as I know. And there they were, exactly as booked. With their luggage, which had travelled with them. (I remember that much from one of the TV documentaries, but as I can't remember which one it's going to take a little while to find it.) And what mother would get on a plane with her children with a bomb on board, even if it wasn't supposed to detonate until a later leg? Cancel that hypothesis.

What I've never seen is a refutation of the suggestion that B8849 might be that mother's suitcase, travelling innocently through the system towards PA103A before being retrieved and carted over to the Lufthansa boarding gate. Is it possible that the original investigators were so focussed on the possibility that Mr. Air Malta Employee was actually part of the terrorist gang that it didn’t occur to them to check if the suitcase was an innocent explanation for the orphan bag? Surely it occurred to someone at some stage to check, though?

However, the family seems to have disappeared from the general narrative rather early. As far as the court proceedings are concerned they don’t exist. The article Buncrana found is dated October 1989. Crawford mentions them in his 2001 book, but again he’s reminiscing about the autumn of 1989 in the chapter in question – as far as he’s concerned, they weren’t anything to do with the bomb, end of story. I’m not sure of the date of the TV documentary, but once again the fact that the family’s luggage travelled with them seems to be taken as sufficient evidence to dismiss any relevance to the Lockerbie incident.

What has never been stated is how that luggage got from KM180 to the Lufthansa flight. There seem to me to be three possibilities.
  • It was tagged for the Lufthansa flight in Luqa.
  • It was only checked in at Luqa as far as Frankfurt, which would mean it was delivered to baggage reclaim at that airport. The owner would then have collected it, and re-checked it at the Lufthansa check-in.
  • It was checked in at Luqa for PA103. In that case, it must have been coded by Koca for PA103A, i.e. it was tray B8849. There was still plenty of time for it to have been retrieved from gate B44 and carried by hand to the Lufthansa departure gate.
Has anybody actually asked this question? Surely, even if nobody else did, the defence team would have checked!

One point made by Paul Foot is that the passengers and luggage of KM180 were examined in minute detail, including in relation to the libel actions mounted by Air Malta against media sources who claimed the bomb was introduced at Luqa. As part of that investigation, the Luqa check-in records for the flight would have been scrutinised. If indeed that family’s suitcase had been tagged for PA103 at that stage, I can’t see how it wouldn’t have been picked up during that exercise, and surely then someone would have said, well, there’s your explanation for B8849.

It seems vanishingly unlikely the penny wouldn’t have dropped somewhere. I just wish I knew for sure.

Rolfe.
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Old 7th July 2010, 06:55 AM   #370
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
So, arriving at V3 at 1301 with the family's original itinerary still in place, B8849 is logged into the system, meanwhile at the check-in hall, the family are changing onto the direct Lufthansa fllight to the US (say anywhere between 1330-1400), and presumably that flight left either just before 103A or very shortly after it departed at about 1600 (Frankfurt time) for Heathrow (or would there really be that much point going through the trouble of changing to the Lufthansa flight if it were any later departing?).

It would have been worth it even if the two flights departed at the same time, certainly. Not only do you pick up a couple of hours by skipping the Heathrow stopover, you avoid having to pack up and change planes yourself with your assumed three screaming children. What mother wouldn't go for it? Also, PA103A actually left at 4.53. Nearly 5 o'clock. (I believe it was a little late, but I don't think by much - say a 16.40 or a 16.45 scheduled departure.)

If this hypothesis flies, the Lufthansa flight must have departed after 3.23pm, when B8849 was delivered to gate B44 (say 3.45 to give the baggage cart time to get to the Lufthansa gate), but early enough to make it worth changing planes, say 5pm. Twenty-two years later, we have little hope of finding a timetable though.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
It's already in the system, as B8849, and at the check-in desk the family are told, 'we'll do our best to get your bag onto your new flight with Lufthansa, but no guarantees..'. Even if it did then arrive on the Lufthansa flight with the family themselves, or via some other flight, would that rule out the possibility that it may well have still been logged into the system at V3 as tray B8849?

I think that's exactly how it would have worked. Mrs. Malta, with three screaming kids, sees the Lufthansa flight on the departures board and is extremely keen on the idea of flying straight to the USA from Frankfurt rather than footering around with another (pretty tight) change of planes at Heathrow.

This was in the days before Lockerbie, when airlines were less stringent about matching passengers and luggage. People could and did make exactly such flight changes. One of the descriptions of the Frankfurt baggage system said the records were often wrong because people did exactly that.

So she drags the greetin' weans to the Lufthansa ticket office, presents her Pan Am ticket and askes if she can change it. My husband works for Air Malta, maybe as a favour? Sure thing, says the booking clerk, but we can't guarantee that your luggage will come with you. However, we will do our best to get your luggage on board too [checks times], and there's a decent chance we'll manage it. Harrassed mother grabs the offer gratefully.

At this point the clerk sends a message to the Lufthansa baggage handling staff to tell one of them to get his backside over to gate B44, with the instruction to snag the suitcase belonging to the Maltese family as soon as it emerges from the bowels of the automated system. (It's likely the staff could tell when the luggage for a particular flight had been called for in the system, so someone would go once they saw that flagged up at 3.12.) Presumably there would be a bit of paperwork to complete, but as we know, that's the part that disappeared. Assuming the Lufthansa flight left late enough for the baggage handler to get to that gate in time, job done. Nobody looked at the loading records for that flight, of course. (The documentary which mentioned this family said their luggage travelled with them, so I think it's certain it was on the Lufthansa flight one way or another.)

If it happened this way, then that bag is indubitably B8849. If the Maltese family were booked for PA103 when they checked in at Luqa, and their luggage was checked in there to go to the States by that route, their bag is indubitably B8849 no matter what happened to it after it emerged from the automated conveyor system at 3.23pm.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Now, as all the other records had vanished at Frankfurt, even if we're allowing for the fact that B8849 had reached B41 onto B44, we don't know for sure that it was then actually loaded onto 103A. Mind you, if it were noted at B44 by one of the computers or loaders, that as you suggest, it was removed by another baggage handler and taken to another gate, re-loaded onto another flight or the Lufthansa flight itself, then that sort of record most certainly couldn't be released by the German's, or the trail from Malta pointing at Megrahi being behind B8849 collapses.

The records were gone by 23rd January 1989, which is when Jones went looking for them. This has all the hallmarks of a comprehensive backside-covering exercise by the BKA, with selected information released later as it suited them.

If they saw B8849 on the list (Bogomira's list? - I think I'm developing an abnormal tolerance for coincidences here), and realised no passenger travelled that route, and were aware of the Scottish interest in Malta, they may have done a quick whoopee that here was a record that could be used to absolve them from actually letting it in through Frankfurt. If they'd given up hope of pinning it on Heathrow, by then. Anyway, Pan Am were responsible for what was loaded on that plane by that route, not Frankfurt airport per se.

Did they then look at the loading records for PA013A and realise that bag had been taken away? Or was it all too confusing? Maybe there was at least the possibility of inferring that a bag had been taken away from B44 before takeoff. Maybe there were other aspects of that loading they didn't want revealed (remember the alleged suitcase of drugs found by Mr. Wilson). Well, let's not complicate the issue....



It's attractive, I have to admit. However, it really falls down when you realise that the check-in records for KM180 at Luqa were available to the enquiry. Not just available, but were scrutinised in detail. I can't really swallow the notion that this suitcase was checked in there for PA103, and it never occurred to anyone that this was the explanation for tray B8849.

Rolfe.
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Old 9th July 2010, 11:55 AM   #371
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
If this hypothesis flies, the Lufthansa flight must have departed after 3.23pm, when B8849 was delivered to gate B44 (say 3.45 to give the baggage cart time to get to the Lufthansa gate), but early enough to make it worth changing planes, say 5pm. Twenty-two years later, we have little hope of finding a timetable though.

I'm a sad bunny. On Wednesday 22nd December 2010 the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to New York leaves at 5pm.

This is of course of no relevance whatsoever.

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Old 12th July 2010, 10:34 AM   #372
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I feel this thread is turning into a bit of a soliloque, but I just can't stop obsessing about tray B8849. The rest of the crucial evidence, I feel I'm getting my head round.
  • MST-13 timer fragment. Could well have been fabricated, and some quite compelling evidence suggesting it was, but we'll never prove it.
  • Toshiba BomBeat SF-16 radiocassette manual and fragments of black plastic. Could well have been fabricated, and some suggestion this might have happened, but again it can't be proved. (Unless, of course, it were to be proved that such a piece of paper couldn't possibly have survived so close to that explosion.)
  • Blast-damaged clothes. Sold by Tony Gauci to an unknown (probably Arab) purchaser as described, however the date of purchase was almost certainly 23rd November and the description of the purchaser doesn't identify Megrahi.
  • Ahmed Abdusamad. Megrahi was definitely checking in for LN147 at the time KM180 was also checking in, however the purpose of his journey was never revealed.
  • Luqa airport. Months and indeed years of intensive investigation failed to reveal any way in which an unaccompanied bag could have been smuggled on board KM180.
  • Heathrow airport. John Bedford described a suitcase closely matching the description of the bomb bag, in a position very close to the position of the subsequent explosion, before the description of the presumed bomb bag was in the public domain. While this positioning would not have guaranteed optimum placement for the bomb bag after the Frankfurt luggage was added, it is the only point in the system where any control at all could have been exerted on this placement.
It's Frankfurt airport with is the huge and abiding mystery. The vanishing baggage records and the BKA's refusal to hand over any information to the D&G investigation, together with the apparently consistently unco-operative attitude of the BKA, strongly suggest that police force (possibly in conjunction with the US authorities) deliberately concealed and/or destroyed these records at a very early stage after the incident, in order to conceal either the suspected introduction of the bomb, or some other unauthorised and highly embarrassing activity.

But then what? Where does Bogomira come in?

It's true to say that the MST-13 timer chip shouldn't be there - the timing of the explosion is inconsistent with the presence of such a timer. However, tray B8849 even more so shouldn't be there. Nothing was allegedly tagged for PA103A at Luqa (unless there's something to the Disneyworld story). And yet here we have a tray coded in such a way as to suggest something came off that flight, linking PA103A and by implication baggage container AVE4041, straight to the island where (a) the clothes in the bomb bag were purchased and (b) a Libyan security officer using a false name was checking in for a different flight.

Yes, there were two other unaccompanied bags identified on that printout - one from Warsaw and one from Kuwait. What we don't know is whether there was evidence of unaccompanied bags being carried on either of these flights. It's the presence of the apparently unaccompanied item from KM180 when the counting all says there was no unaccompanied bag with an innocent explanation on that flight which seems to be the crunch, that and the double tie-in to Malta.

The Frankfurt baggage department's evidence suggests that from 13.04 until 13.10, Yaser Koca was busily coding bags from KM180 at station 206. Anyone with a stray bag for PA103A wouldn't have disturbed him at 13.07, but would either have waited till he was finished or gone to another station.

So, where did that tray come from?
  • There really was a bag tagged for PA103A on KM180 (Disneyworld family?)
  • Someone threw an extra bag into that luggage somewhere between the aircraft and Koca's station (possible, but in that case it would have been the bomb bag and why didn't Maier spot it and what the hell was Bedford's story all about?)
  • Koca made a mistake in coding (possible but unlikely, and indeed a mistakenly-coded bag could have been taken to the correct plane some time in the period 15.23 to 16.53 rather than being left at the gate, but this is back to ridiculous coincidence territory)
Which is why I return to, aside from the Disneyworld theory, that tray should not be there.

When we looked at the other piece of evidence that really shouldn't be there, the timer fragment, it had more anomalies than a technician with a hangover. Why is the provenance of this one so hard to shake?

Rolfe.
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Old 12th July 2010, 03:31 PM   #373
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Sorry Rolfe, I've been rerunning this around my head, and, really, struggling to add anything genuinely worthwhile with some of the excellent scrutiny you have applied to this matter of B8849 in your posts.

I suppose, in addition to the mystery of B8849's appearance, I'm constantly drawn back to the very beginning of the story, on 21st, and crucially the strange circumstances that we're led to believe occurred at Frankfurt airport during the following days. Notably, the 22nd, when Bogomire decided, of her own peculiar reasoning for taking that printout.

Now, I think we can safely say, the German authorities, whther that be the BKA or Frankfurts own security apparatus, had secured much, if not all, of the records detailing the airports baggage movements on the 21st. To suggest that with everything that was known by the BKA from Neuss, the bomb threats that had been made, not to mention the newspaper reports from the time which clearly asserted that investigations were "being intensified" at Heathrow and Frankfurt, within that week following the 21st that the German's claim was the critical timeframe, that for no one throughout the whole German and Frankfurt security personnel thought about this (for more than a week!) is, if you don't mind me saying, the stuff of Disney fairytales. And, I certainly don't dismiss your Disney baggage theory as B8849, given what has already been revealed as to how this investigation and trial was conducted in respect of numerous other critical areas.

However, if we do accept that the BKA/Frankfurt had secured the records relating to operations of 21st, and most importantly 103A, then why would Erac's printout be required at all? Why conjure up such a tale when they could just release the information, as they deemed neccessary, which is what they were actually doing, and as everyone involved in the investigation seems to have frustratingly accepted? And why should Erac provide such a story?

All the news articles of the day carry a plethora of reports of disquiet and growing antagonism between the invetsigators in Scotland, Heathrow and the German's. During the early stages and in the first few months into the investigation, right up to the release of the printout (which they openly admitted they hadn't disclosed since February apparently), there is constant reference to the withholding of documentation by the German investigators. If the BKA had the all the systems details of the day, which all the other parties appear to have acknowledged - except for the BKA themselves - but then choose to issue a derisory story behind the provenance of the printout and it's belated release of the Erac printout - nearly 8 months after the plane had been bombed??!!? In fact they did give an explaination as the the prinouts origin, namely Erac's divine intervention, but did they really give a plausible explanation as to why they kept it concealed for all the months the investigation were desperately looking as to where an unaccompanied bag could have been introduced??

In short, why the Erac story when they clearly would have had investigators crawling all over the airports documents in the aftermath of 103's bombing. I mean, Frankfurt must've been seen as the most obvious point of introduction with all that was known about Khreesat and the PLFP cell. They had been warned, they'd found the bombs ready to go, and there's no argument that some member or contact of the PLFP within Frankfurt could have slipped it passed security. The first impressions given by investigators was that the bomb may have been set with a combination of barometric and timing device, so as to allow it to travel the initial flight without detonation.

I know all the arguments against this particular preposition, but I'm just mulling over a few scenarios here...

BUT, if you start with the reasonable presumption that for their own security reasons, they had secured the records of the 21st, and were releasing them as they saw fit, then why wait 8 months? Yes, they didn't want to possibly be exposed as one of the airports that had been duped by one solitary unaccompanied bag armed with a bomb they themselves were pre-warned about. But, then, if they did have the records, why the story about Erac then?

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Old 12th July 2010, 05:01 PM   #374
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My thoughts exactly.

I keep wanting to go for the simple explanation. The explanation that just says most people are telling the truth. It's not working for me with the Frankfurt situation though.

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Old 13th July 2010, 05:51 PM   #375
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Sorry Rolfe, I've been rerunning this around my head, and, really, struggling to add anything genuinely worthwhile with some of the excellent scrutiny you have applied to this matter of B8849 in your posts.

I suppose, in addition to the mystery of B8849's appearance, I'm constantly drawn back to the very beginning of the story, on 21st, and crucially the strange circumstances that we're led to believe occurred at Frankfurt airport during the following days. Notably, the 22nd, when Bogomire decided, of her own peculiar reasoning for taking that printout.

Indeed. It's odd. "Everybody was talking about it. The talk was of nothing else." But what were they saying? Were Bogomira's colleagues aware of the Toshiba alert? Did the possibility that something might have got through the baggage system come up in conversation?

Why is there no mention of securing the evidence though? No police yet? Even that is a little strange. But even if no police, what about the airport's own security staff? Has it occurred to nobody to come along and make sure all records are preserved?

What was the nature of Bogomira's curiosity? Was she perhaps aware something should be happening that wasn't, and took the printout for that reason?

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Now, I think we can safely say, the German authorities, whther that be the BKA or Frankfurts own security apparatus, had secured much, if not all, of the records detailing the airports baggage movements on the 21st. To suggest that with everything that was known by the BKA from Neuss, the bomb threats that had been made, not to mention the newspaper reports from the time which clearly asserted that investigations were "being intensified" at Heathrow and Frankfurt, within that week following the 21st that the German's claim was the critical timeframe, that for no one throughout the whole German and Frankfurt security personnel thought about this (for more than a week!) is, if you don't mind me saying, the stuff of Disney fairytales.

Do you really think they got the lot? I've had that suspicion for a while, but I've found it hard to see how. Or rather, how they got it all but then pretended they hadn't. Wasn't there any occasion where someone came looking for something, and the person being asked about it said, but the police took all that away at the time?

In that context, Bogomira and Berg are interesting. She gives no indication that she's seen anyone looking for baggage records. She indicates that by about 25th January she's aware that records the police should have, they apparently don't have. Berg concurs, agreeing with her that these records don't exist any more, and being surprised by her printout. But then, he asks her to check the filing cabinets in case any of the routine printouts have been preserved.

This is bizarre. Surely if there was any such possibility, the filing cabinets would have been turned over in detail at an early stage? Indeed, given that hard copies existed, their utter disappearance and the lack of any interest in trying to find them is very odd.

If the BKA got the lot at an early stage, I could just about cope with the idea that everyone at the airport was content to let them get on with it, and the lack of sharing with the D&G wasn't an issue anyone in Germany was worried about, and by eight months later when it began to come out that most of the stuff was missing, the time for saying anything was past.

But actually, we have both Bogomira and Michael Jones saying that by a month after the disaster, records were missing and the police didn't have them. That doesn't mean that that's true, but it does mean that it was common knowledge in the airport by then.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
And, I certainly don't dismiss your Disney baggage theory as B8849, given what has already been revealed as to how this investigation and trial was conducted in respect of numerous other critical areas.

We need to find a true copy of the baggage loading records for KM180, to see if a bag does appear coded for PA103. Or even better, the actual Miami-bound party, and ask them if they changed their flights, and if so when did they do that.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
However, if we do accept that the BKA/Frankfurt had secured the records relating to operations of 21st, and most importantly 103A, then why would Erac's printout be required at all? Why conjure up such a tale when they could just release the information, as they deemed neccessary, which is what they were actually doing, and as everyone involved in the investigation seems to have frustratingly accepted? And why should Erac provide such a story?

If they had all the computer records, how would they justify releasing only a small extract? As soon as anyone else has that, they want to look at the rest - in particular, they want to look at everything coded at station 206 round about that time to see where it was gong to, and hopefully where it had come from.

First, you might find that the "unaccompanied bag from KM180" theory doesn't stand up in that context. But second, you might find other stuff the BKA seriously don't want in the public domain. What was Juval Aviv about anyway? Were there drugs being trafficked? Was the bomb bag visible on the records, but being introduced at Frankfurt itself rather than passively ferried through into Pan Am's responsibility? Might it have implicated the airport directly? And/or Lufthansa? Oh dear.

So, all they want to release is the loading of PA103A itself. Nothing else. How else can they do this plausibly, other than by some story like Bogomira's?

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
All the news articles of the day carry a plethora of reports of disquiet and growing antagonism between the invetsigators in Scotland, Heathrow and the German's. During the early stages and in the first few months into the investigation, right up to the release of the printout (which they openly admitted they hadn't disclosed since February apparently), there is constant reference to the withholding of documentation by the German investigators. If the BKA had the all the systems details of the day, which all the other parties appear to have acknowledged - except for the BKA themselves -

This is extremely interesting. The antagonsim I mean, and so openly acknowledged. It really does support the assumption that the BKA hoovered up all the records very quickly, and made sure copies were not retained, in order to analyse them themselves and find out just what dirty little secrets could be decduced that they didn't want to become public.

But how did they do this while leaving the airport personnel under the impression that everything had vanished?

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
but then choose to issue a derisory story behind the provenance of the printout and it's belated release of the Erac printout - nearly 8 months after the plane had been bombed??!!? In fact they did give an explaination as the the prinouts origin, namely Erac's divine intervention, but did they really give a plausible explanation as to why they kept it concealed for all the months the investigation were desperately looking as to where an unaccompanied bag could have been introduced??

The only thing I've heard is Crawford's version.

Originally Posted by John Crawford
Professor De Marco [deputy Prime Minister of Malta] .... wanted to know why it had taken so long for the German Authorities to tell the LICC about the Malta connection. Flight KM180 from Malta had departed Luqa airport in Malta on the morning of 21st December 1988. It arrived at Frankfurt and its baggage was disgorged onto the tarmac for onward transmission through the computerised baggage system which operates at Frankfurt.

The Germans possessed a computerised print-out of luggage from the flight stating that a piece of luggage from the flight KM180 had been destined for Pan Am 103. They had not divulged this crucial piece of evidence to LICC until August 1989, almost 9 months after the event. Quite why they chose to hold back was a mystery; they had either been remiss in their investigations, or were trying to protect German interests in Frankfurt. They were not about to admit that a bomb had been through Frankfurt, which they had not managed to do anything with.

I tend to think it was the second reason given above, as it was known at LICC that they had been asked repeatedly for any computer list of luggage that had been loaded onto the flight 103 at Frankfurt and had consistently put off the request. The consequences of their actions were now coming home to roost.

The two Germans knew that the questions being asked by De Marco were very hard to answer and they tried to flannel their way out of it. Another mistake. They had no response whatsoever and were left with egg on their faces. It was extremely embarrassing and Pinsdorf was not best pleased with what he (correctly?) guessed had been a set up. His sidekick Tepp was on the receiving end of some stick from his boss.

Crawford thinks they had the lot and were hiding something. He's not that reliable, but he was in a position to make an informed judgement on this point.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
In short, why the Erac story when they clearly would have had investigators crawling all over the airports documents in the aftermath of 103's bombing. I mean, Frankfurt must've been seen as the most obvious point of introduction with all that was known about Khreesat and the PLFP cell. They had been warned, they'd found the bombs ready to go, and there's no argument that some member or contact of the PLFP within Frankfurt could have slipped it passed security. The first impressions given by investigators was that the bomb may have been set with a combination of barometric and timing device, so as to allow it to travel the initial flight without detonation.

I know all the arguments against this particular preposition, but I'm just mulling over a few scenarios here...

BUT, if you start with the reasonable presumption that for their own security reasons, they had secured the records of the 21st, and were releasing them as they saw fit, then why wait 8 months? Yes, they didn't want to possibly be exposed as one of the airports that had been duped by one solitary unaccompanied bag armed with a bomb they themselves were pre-warned about. But, then, if they did have the records, why the story about Erac then?

Mmm. They swiped the records to go over them in private, to see what dirty little secrets were there. They found stuff they had absolutely no intention of allowing to become public. Possibly drugs, possibly even the true introduction of the bomb. (Maybe Juval Aviv was right, and the Bedford suitcase was an irrelevance?)

How did they swipe them without this being common knowledge? It's hard to see how, but Christmas Day was only three days off. Did they use the probable skeleton staff at that time to get the records without anyone realising they were doing any more than a reconnaissance run? Possibly aided by one or two airport personnel who were a party to the plan? (Berg seems a bit suspicious in this respect - his laid-back attitude to the vanishing records as described by Bogomira is remarkable.)

They decided they would just sit on the lot, and the hell with the investigation. The bomb went on board at Heathrow, and that's that. (Maybe they knew about the Bedford bag?)

Then in the summer, it was decided to make this case all about Megrahi, whom it had been discovered was present when KM180 was checking in. And the clothes came from Malta. It was forcefully explained to the BKA by their CIA minders (US sector of the FDR, remember) that it would be necessary to show that a bag had come through from KM180, or no case could be made. Because they were never going to make a case that a bag had gone on KM180.

If we go this route, we start to imply that Bogomira and Berg were both willing collaborators in creating the myth of the sentimental printout.

I'm not at all sure I believe this, but it actually hangs together and makes logical sense, and I can't think of anything else that does.

Rolfe.
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Old 14th July 2010, 05:55 AM   #376
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Indeed. It's odd. "Everybody was talking about it. The talk was of nothing else." But what were they saying? Were Bogomira's colleagues aware of the Toshiba alert? Did the possibility that something might have got through the baggage system come up in conversation?

Why is there no mention of securing the evidence though? No police yet? Even that is a little strange. But even if no police, what about the airport's own security staff? Has it occurred to nobody to come along and make sure all records are preserved?

What was the nature of Bogomira's curiosity? Was she perhaps aware something should be happening that wasn't, and took the printout for that reason?
Quite. It's an utterly bizzare scenario we're led to believe was occurring, or not as we're told, where records and all relevant documentation tracing baggage movements on the 21st wasn't of any concern to either the German police or Frankfurt security themselves. This despite that 103 had essentially originated from that airport, and with Frankfurt airport security on high alert after the Neuss discovery.

"Everyone else was talking about it", and yet not a soul had considered securing records from the airport itself? Except for Bogomire, who put her printout in a locker and went off on holiday.


Quote:
Do you really think they got the lot? I've had that suspicion for a while, but I've found it hard to see how. Or rather, how they got it all but then pretended they hadn't. Wasn't there any occasion where someone came looking for something, and the person being asked about it said, but the police took all that away at the time?

In that context, Bogomira and Berg are interesting. She gives no indication that she's seen anyone looking for baggage records. She indicates that by about 25th January she's aware that records the police should have, they apparently don't have. Berg concurs, agreeing with her that these records don't exist any more, and being surprised by her printout. But then, he asks her to check the filing cabinets in case any of the routine printouts have been preserved.

This is bizarre. Surely if there was any such possibility, the filing cabinets would have been turned over in detail at an early stage? Indeed, given that hard copies existed, their utter disappearance and the lack of any interest in trying to find them is very odd.

If the BKA got the lot at an early stage, I could just about cope with the idea that everyone at the airport was content to let them get on with it, and the lack of sharing with the D&G wasn't an issue anyone in Germany was worried about, and by eight months later when it began to come out that most of the stuff was missing, the time for saying anything was past.

But actually, we have both Bogomira and Michael Jones saying that by a month after the disaster, records were missing and the police didn't have them. That doesn't mean that that's true, but it does mean that it was common knowledge in the airport by then.

I do find the use of phrase "missing" interesting. Not 'gone' or 'wiped', but missing, to my mind, infers the possibility that these records were expected to be somewhere (indicating someone had secured them), whether that is in the hands of the airport themselves or with the German police, I'm not clear, but certainly the expectation seems to be that they would be available to view, but were only deemed to be 'missing'.

It's almost as though other investigators, including Jones and Phipp, naturally assumed the records from Frankfurt on the 21st had been secured, or had been actually told that the German's had everything that was expected in relation to documentation from 21st. Only to go to Frankfurt in late January to discover they were not available and no plausible reasoning given as to their whereabouts. The records are simply not available, gone, missing.



Quote:
We need to find a true copy of the baggage loading records for KM180, to see if a bag does appear coded for PA103. Or even better, the actual Miami-bound party, and ask them if they changed their flights, and if so when did they do that.
Indeed. How they received their baggage, and if this change of route was made after they left Malta.


Quote:
If they had all the computer records, how would they justify releasing only a small extract? As soon as anyone else has that, they want to look at the rest - in particular, they want to look at everything coded at station 206 round about that time to see where it was gong to, and hopefully where it had come from.

First, you might find that the "unaccompanied bag from KM180" theory doesn't stand up in that context. But second, you might find other stuff the BKA seriously don't want in the public domain. What was Juval Aviv about anyway? Were there drugs being trafficked? Was the bomb bag visible on the records, but being introduced at Frankfurt itself rather than passively ferried through into Pan Am's responsibility? Might it have implicated the airport directly? And/or Lufthansa? Oh dear.

So, all they want to release is the loading of PA103A itself. Nothing else. How else can they do this plausibly, other than by some story like Bogomira's?

This is extremely interesting. The antagonsim I mean, and so openly acknowledged. It really does support the assumption that the BKA hoovered up all the records very quickly, and made sure copies were not retained, in order to analyse them themselves and find out just what dirty little secrets could be decduced that they didn't want to become public.

What I find most interesting about the criticism that was being levelled at the German investigation, and their seeming reluctance to cooperate with the D&G and Heathrow investigators, is the absolute absence of any disapproval or blame made towards the Germans by the American investigators, and the US government. This lack of castigation I find is also notable from the MI6 and the UK government.

You know, this was a major terrorist attack. The largest terrorist attack on UK soil, and the largest number of US citizens killed in any terror attack before 2001. And here we have the German authorities withholding documentation from the investigators without so much as a word in anger directed from Washington.

Although, perhaps it was only some of the investigators that were waved away, and information from Frankfurt was being shared between the German's and the US/UK investigators at a higher level. It's the only reasoning I can fathom as to why the US and UK would remain strangely hushed about this rather inexplicable hindrance into the investigation.

Quote:
But how did they do this while leaving the airport personnel under the impression that everything had vanished?

The only thing I've heard is Crawford's version.

Crawford thinks they had the lot and were hiding something. He's not that reliable, but he was in a position to make an informed judgement on this point.

Mmm. They swiped the records to go over them in private, to see what dirty little secrets were there. They found stuff they had absolutely no intention of allowing to become public. Possibly drugs, possibly even the true introduction of the bomb. (Maybe Juval Aviv was right, and the Bedford suitcase was an irrelevance?)

How did they swipe them without this being common knowledge? It's hard to see how, but Christmas Day was only three days off. Did they use the probable skeleton staff at that time to get the records without anyone realising they were doing any more than a reconnaissance run? Possibly aided by one or two airport personnel who were a party to the plan? (Berg seems a bit suspicious in this respect - his laid-back attitude to the vanishing records as described by Bogomira is remarkable.)

They decided they would just sit on the lot, and the hell with the investigation. The bomb went on board at Heathrow, and that's that. (Maybe they knew about the Bedford bag?)

It all seems quite plausible to me that the BKA already had their own team stationed within Frankfurt Airport as a matter of course, but with the threats made and bombs discovered, it seems to me to be a certainty they'd have personnel designated to deal specifically with anyone with known background with militant groups, and especially connected to the PLFP, attempting to board a flight or actually caught with any sort of bomb device.

And if we give any credence to the Aviv theory at all, then the presence of high level intelligence and security officials would be a prerequisite of such an operation being conducted. I'm still of the mind that the Aviv scenario didn't necessarily play a part in the introduction of the bomb, but may well have had a great deal of influence on the course of the investigation.

Quote:
Then in the summer, it was decided to make this case all about Megrahi, whom it had been discovered was present when KM180 was checking in. And the clothes came from Malta. It was forcefully explained to the BKA by their CIA minders (US sector of the FDR, remember) that it would be necessary to show that a bag had come through from KM180, or no case could be made. Because they were never going to make a case that a bag had gone on KM180.

If we go this route, we start to imply that Bogomira and Berg were both willing collaborators in creating the myth of the sentimental printout.

I'm not at all sure I believe this, but it actually hangs together and makes logical sense, and I can't think of anything else that does.

Rolfe.

Neither am I, but,as you say, it dispells the absurd notions of the records not being secured and the hokum about one solitary employee just so happened to secure precisely the record which knits the entire tale of KM180 and Megrahi together as almost plausible.

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Old 14th July 2010, 09:29 AM   #377
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Quote:
Chicago Tribune

December 23, 1988 Friday, FINAL EDITION

SABOTAGE PROBED IN JET CRASH U.S. DISCLOSES PHONE WARNING GIVEN DEC. 5

[...]

"Sabotage is the most likely explanation," said David Kyd, chief public relations officer for the International Air Transport Association in Geneva. He also said structural problems were unlikely to have been involved.
U.S. officials said no convincing evidence of sabotage had yet been found.

[...]

"Pan Am had received notification from various sources that there was the possibility of a threat against Pan American Airways," said spokeswoman Pamela Hanlon in New York. "We immediately acted and put supplementary security procedures in effect, not only at Frankfurt but at airports around the world."

[...]

German authorities said security around flights destined for the U.S. had been tightened after the threats. An official for Hesse state, which includes Frankfurt, said he doubted a bomb could have been placed aboard the flight before it took off from Frankfurt.

So, here we are, on the 23rd December, 2 days after 103 came down, and the German authorities are claiming increased security was in place at Frankfurt. So much so, that after the crash of the 103, no one had sought to secure that airports records?!

Oh seriously, come on..
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Old 14th July 2010, 03:46 PM   #378
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
So, here we are, on the 23rd December, 2 days after 103 came down, and the German authorities are claiming increased security was in place at Frankfurt. So much so, that after the crash of the 103, no one had sought to secure that airports records?!

Oh seriously, come on..

Well, exactly.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Quite. It's an utterly bizzare scenario we're led to believe was occurring, or not as we're told, where records and all relevant documentation tracing baggage movements on the 21st wasn't of any concern to either the German police or Frankfurt security themselves. This despite that 103 had essentially originated from that airport, and with Frankfurt airport security on high alert after the Neuss discovery.

"Everyone else was talking about it", and yet not a soul had considered securing records from the airport itself? Except for Bogomire, who put her printout in a locker and went off on holiday.

I'd quite like to hear from some of the hard-line debunkers as to how they would explain this. In fact, I'd welcome any plausible narrative with tears in my eyes. It wasn't just the Neuss discovery either, it was the Helsinki warning, which specifically referred to "a Pan Am flight from Frankfurt to New York".

So they think we came up the Clyde on a banana boat?

You yourself noted a report from 28th December which seemed to imply the BKA had secured all the evidence. "Nothing new to report, no new information, no hot leads" suggests an investigation that has at least started. And the first thing to do would have been to secure the evidence. The computer records would have existed until the 27th at least.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
What I find most interesting about the criticism that was being levelled at the German investigation, and their seeming reluctance to cooperate with the D&G and Heathrow investigators, is the absolute absence of any disapproval or blame made towards the Germans by the American investigators, and the US government. This lack of castigation I find is also notable from the MI6 and the UK government.

You know, this was a major terrorist attack. The largest terrorist attack on UK soil, and the largest number of US citizens killed in any terror attack before 2001. And here we have the German authorities withholding documentation from the investigators without so much as a word in anger directed from Washington.

You know, that could be a very perceptive observation. It's the PC Plods who are complaining, not the politicians. I think this is consistent with high-level acquiescence in the withholding of the Frankfurt records. This might cover the CIA being aware of the BKA's little game, and possibly even its instigator.

The CIA knew all about the PFLP-GC. Khreesat was supposed to be their mole in there (via Jordan). Making dud bombs, right. Dud bombs that killed a BKA officer later, yes. The story goes that Khreesat made a phone call to his CIA minder when he was picked up in October, and the BKA promptly released him.

How long did it take either the CIA or the BKA to figure out that the Neuss group might have struck? I'd give it about half an hour, frankly. Or maybe about half a minute. So, possibly the Frankfurt CIA and the Frankfurt BKA, who were probably working closely anyway, and one guess who was the senior partner, were of one mind right then. Get these baggage records and don't leave any copies, so we can see what's there and how deep the doo-doo is.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Although, perhaps it was only some of the investigators that were waved away, and information from Frankfurt was being shared between the German's and the US/UK investigators at a higher level. It's the only reasoning I can fathom as to why the US and UK would remain strangely hushed about this rather inexplicable hindrance into the investigation.

I can think of a much simpler explanation. The higher-level echelons of the US operation tell the higher-level echelons of the British operation to shut up and not make a fuss.

"Your government and our government know exactly what happened at Lockerbie. But they are not going to tell you." That could be about Frankfurt,and about knowing that the Frankfurt records were covered up, and assuming that the entire solution to the mystery was contained in these covered-up records. Even though it might not have been.

I'm not so sure this was about "sharing", maybe more about telling just as much as was necessary to keep the MI6 bods and the rest of the spooks on-side and not making public waves about how Frankfurt was behaving. Then you can let the lower orders bitch about it to the newspapers as much as they like, because nobody is actually going to do anything about it.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
It all seems quite plausible to me that the BKA already had their own team stationed within Frankfurt Airport as a matter of course, but with the threats made and bombs discovered, it seems to me to be a certainty they'd have personnel designated to deal specifically with anyone with known background with militant groups, and especially connected to the PLFP, attempting to board a flight or actually caught with any sort of bomb device.

And if we give any credence to the Aviv theory at all, then the presence of high level intelligence and security officials would be a prerequisite of such an operation being conducted. I'm still of the mind that the Aviv scenario didn't necessarily play a part in the introduction of the bomb, but may well have had a great deal of influence on the course of the investigation.

More highly perceptive points. Of course the police would have a presence in the airport. Nobody would have had to call the cops, they'd be there already. Familiar with the operation. Known faces around the place. Get all copies of the computer data, both electronic and hard copy. Get the loading plans and so on for PA103A. Get anything specific about the unloading of KM180. Then wait for the routine over-writing of the computerised records.

I don't know what sort of relationship the staff in the baggage department would have with the BKA. Friendly? Co-operative? Arm's-length? Intimidatory? Germans can be very formal, and also very correct and proper. Remember Bogomira, when asked what she did with her printout, answered with what seems to us to be a non-sequitur. "Nobody instructed me to make that printout." Meaning, I think, that because of this there was no set procedure for what she should do with it. It's hard to imagine, coming from a different culture, but I think it would be possible.

It wouldn't need to be just one or a few conspirators either. All the cops might be quite clear that their job was to make sure they got first look at the data and would be in a position to decide what subsequently got released and what didn't. Gene Hunt, eat your heart out.

The part I still find rather odd is just where you segue from that, to allowing people to form the impression that the BKA actually dropped their rifle in a very big way, and failed to secure the data. "Unfortunately nobody realised Frankfurt had a computerised baggage system and the data was over-written after a few days." That was one of the documentaries. Pull the other leg, it plays "Jingle Bells".

Berg's attitude, as described by Bogomira, is very odd. Completely laid-back and accepting of the fact that the records don't exist any more, but prepared to check a filing cabinet just in case. A month after the incident. Even if Bogomira is on the level, I'd suspect Berg of knowing very well that the police were in full cover-up mode. Maybe quite a lot of people realised that, but it wasn't something you talked about. Maybe it was understood that they were trying to protect the airport from scandal and disgrace and culpability, and that was OK. So instead of people lambasting the cops as a bunch of incompetents, it's "you may choose to think that, I couldn't possibly comment...."

However, it's not just the politicians and the spooks who're saying nothing about any of this.

Rolfe.
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Old 14th July 2010, 05:01 PM   #379
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When you start to look real close at Bogomira's printout and how the inferences were drawn from it, and how Mr. Taylor tried to spin it all so that the orphan tray didn't necessarily come off KM180, you start to realise what a restricted snapshot of data you actually have. Without the full computer records you're mired in assumptions and maybes and probabilities and "this would be the normal interpretaton and there's no evidence to show any reason for taking an abnormal interpretation."

It's fairly clear that the defence had all the coders' worksheets, and all the interline writers' reports, and Bogomira's printout, and bugger-all else. So they knew what other flights had arrived, and what time their luggage got into the coding halls, and what coding station they were coded at and when. So Mr. Taylor could say, maybe Yasar Koca's watch was slow, and actually he was still coding the previous flight at 13.07 computer-time, but all the times he entered were maybe four minutes too early. Maybe KM180 really hung around in the hall an extra four minutes, and didn't start coding till 13.08, even though the Koca wrist-watch only read 13.04.

This is actually torturing the data quite a bit. The judges gave it the bum's rush, simply saying there was no evidence for his watch being slow, and so the presumption was that it wasn't. However, there was really no evidence either way.

Another line Mr. Taylor tried was that maybe Koca's worksheet actually said 13.16, not 13.10. While six minutes was about right for coding the number of bags on KM180, 12 minutes is really too long. So maybe another flight was coded as well during that time, and Koca forgot to make a note. The flight proposed was one from Damascus, where Mr. Taylor thought a wagon and a half of luggage was otherwise unaccounted-for. However, the probable explanation for this was that the luggage had gone to customs with some of the wagons only part-filled, and that after customs had finished with it, it had been re-loaded using fewer wagons.

This really was torturing the data rather severely, and I'm not surprised the judges didn't listen to that either.

But why all the speculation? Because the rest of the data was missing. The coding for all the other flights. If that had been available, it would have been possible to see what else Koca coded between 13.04 and 13.10, and did it look like KM180. How many bags? 55 or 56? Was he coding anything at all between 13.10 and 13.16, and if so, how many bags and where did they go. And so on.

This looks like Mr. Taylor totally missing a really vital trick. Instead of accepting the limited amount of evidence available and playing rather implausible "what if" with it, should he not have been majoring on the impossibility of coming to any definite conclusions without the full dataset? What might we have seen if we'd had access to the full records? Here we have the Frankfurt arm of the investigation, who totally failed in their duty as investigators, and as a result we're having to play around with only a tiny fraction of the information we should have, and make all sorts of assumptions. Now these same investigators want us just to take it at face value that the interpretation of this small amount of data is as they say. Well, that's not good enough. If we can't see what other bags were coded at station 206 during the 20 minutes in question, and compare them to the passenger lists of the flights in question, and match the trays to the known passengers as far as possible, we can't really tell with any great confidence what that tray was.

Why were the judges not invited to contemplate the remarkable failings of the Frankfurt BKA in securing the data necessary to have provided reasonable certainty about the provenance of that tray, and so conclude that that part of the case simply wasn't beyond reasonable doubt? Why weren't their noses rubbed in the absence of the records from the departure gates, which might have shown bags coded for that flight being removed because they had been mis-coded or re-directed?

Is it possible that Mr. Taylor had also been advised that certain areas of enquiry were off limits?

Rolfe.
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Old 14th July 2010, 05:36 PM   #380
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Most certainly in the course of joining this discussion, chiefly with yourself and CL, I have become increasingly aghast at the seemingly elementary failure in some aspects of Megrahi's defence.

Some of the areas that we've acquired, such as the complete trial transcripts, some of the productions and photos of evidence, amongst the myriad of information available on the www, have without doubt been of great assistance. So long as you filter it. However, even with this relatively limited access to evidence and other documentation compared to that at the disposal of those involved in the case itself, there are a number of clear and critical flaws that were not pursued.

The manual. The indian head tests and reports. The testing of evidence for explosive residue. The Frankfurt loss of documents. The ambiguous nature of B8849.

Latterly, during the first appeal, much was made of the break-in at Heathrow being suppressed, although they seemingly approached this argument, and the evidence against Malta, and for Heathrow, incorrectly.

Where Megrahi's defence and their apparent Libyan advisors aware as the first case at Zeist progressed that, given what the consequences of an acquittal for both would entail, this was never even a remote possibility. No matter how tenuous the case against would appear. My goodness, even if it's completely preposterous and contradictory, someone will have to be convicted?

Both found not proven or not guilty opens a can of worms we don't even want to consider! Not even two decades later.

What is this all about??!

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Old 15th July 2010, 02:04 AM   #381
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If it goes on raining like this, I may tidy my room. On the other hand, I may sit down and make a little collage of the press reports you've found referring to the Frankfurt police operation, starting with the heightened security and the reasons for it, then the "we're on it, folks", and working through to, oops, we didn't preserve any of the baggage movement records, sorry about that.

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Old 15th July 2010, 05:52 AM   #382
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Most certainly in the course of joining this discussion, chiefly with yourself and CL, I have become increasingly aghast at the seemingly elementary failure in some aspects of Megrahi's defence.

There's quite a disconnect between Paul Foot's take on this, where he generally praises Taylor for busting a gut for his client, and Hans Kochler's, where he lambasts the defence for incompetence, which he rather hints is deliberate.

When I was a kid and playing games on the seashore, one of the variants on the stone-throwing one was "the biggest show and the smallest throw". You'd behave like a crack bowler in an Ashes test match, kissing the stone and getting all worked up into a showy run-up, then you'd just drop it. Or in one case, I remember a girl tossing it backwards over her shoulder. I wonder.

http://www.i-p-o.org/lockerbie-report.htm

Originally Posted by Hans Kochler
Another, though less serious, problem [than the fact that the CIA were running the prosecution case!] in regard to due process was the presence of foreign nationals on the side of the defense team in the courtroom during the whole period of the trial. [....] [T]he presence of a Libyan lawyer [....] gave the trial a political aspect that should have been avoided by decision of the panel of judges. [....] Mr. Maghour [....] had to be perceived as a kind of liaison official in a political sense. It has to be noted that the original Libyan defense lawyer, Dr. Ibrahim Legwell (chosen by the two suspects long before their transfer to the Netherlands), resigned under protest when the Libyan government introduced Mr. Maghour as new defense lawyer for the two accused. [....]

The most serious case, however [as regards material being withheld from the Court], is related to the special defense launched by defense attorneys Taylor and Keen. [....] The alternative theory of the defense − leading to conclusions contradictory to those of the prosecution − was never seriously investigated. Amid shrouds of secrecy and "national security" considerations, that avenue was never seriously pursued − although it was officially declared as being of major importance for the defense case. [....]

As a result of this situation, the undersigned has reached the conclusion that foreign governments or (secret) governmental agencies may have been allowed, albeit indirectly, to determine, to a considerable extent, which evidence was made available to the Court.

In the analysis of the undersigned, the strategy of the defense team by suddenly dropping its "special defense" and canceling the appearance of almost all defense witnesses (in spite of the defense's ambitious announcements made earlier during the trial) is totally incomprehensible; it puts into question the credibility of the defense's actions and motives. [....]

Seen from the final outcome, a certain coordination of the strategies of the prosecution, of the defense, and of the judges' considerations during the later period of the trial is not totally unlikely.

I think Kochler is of the opinion that the guilty verdict was a set-up between the prosecution, the defence and the judges, and that the Libyan lawyer on the defence team (who was appointed by Gadaffi) may have influenced this. As I understand it, the dropping of the "special defence of incrimination" (that is, putting forward that a far better case can be made for someone else's guilt, in this case the PFLC-GC), was done after Maghour was appointed, and was the main cause of Legwell's resignation.

I've long suspected it was in Gadaffi's interests for a guilty verdict to come out of this. Then all he had to do was write that letter "taking responsibility for the actions of his agents" and pay out $2.7 billion, and hey presto ten years later here we are and he's the West's new best friend with oil deals signed to mutual satisfaction. A result.

In that view of the matter, Megrahi was the human sacrifice needed to dig Libya out of the pariah status Gadaffi had dug it into during the late 20th century. No wonder Libya wanted him home in the early 21st, and cheered to the echo when he finally got there.

Kochler has a lot more to say about the defence strategy and strong suspicions of Libya being on-side with the defence to secure the conviction during the first appeal. I really can't quote even a fraction of it because he goes on about it so much, but here are a few snippets.

http://www.i-p-o.org/koechler-locker...eal_report.htm

Originally Posted by Hans Kochler
The same [undesirable impression that the prodeedings were politicised] applies to the presence in the courtroom of the head of the Libyan defense team on the side of the Scottish defense team. The undersigned would like to note that the former’s presence was not requested by the appellant. [....]

One of the most serious shortcomings of the appeal proceedings (as of the trial proceedings) was that the appellant did not have adequate defense – a circumstance that weighs heavily in an adversarial judicial system where the fairness of the trial depends mainly on the equality of arms between prosecution and defense. Because of this situation, the requirements of Art. 6 (“Right to a fair trial”) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms were not met.

The lack of adequate representation of the appellant became evident in the handling of the defense case during the appeal in several respects: (a) In spite of the often vague and entirely circumstantial evidence, the Defense, in its Note of Appeal as well as during the appeal hearings, did not make the point that there was insufficient evidence in law to convict the appellant; (b) [....] (c) [....] (d) [....] (e) [....] (f) [....] (g) [....] (h) [....]

Indeed, because of its actions during the trial the Defense itself may be seen as part of the problem, complicit in the lack of fairness of the proceedings – this may explain why this basic issue was not raised in the course of the appeal proceedings.

And it just goes on and on, frankly. It's all there to be read.

Even reading the full judgement of the appeal court, that point made in (a) above just leaps out. It's as if the judges are saying, now if you'd put it to us that there was insufficient evidence in law to convict, and that no reasonable jury, properly directed, could have come to that verdict on that evidence, well frankly we might be agreeing with you. But since you specifically declined to put that to us, we can't consider it. So yah boo sucks. Appeal denied. Thread closed.

There's a strong implication in all that that Taylor was got at (although Kochler also refers to "obvious antagonism between the Defense Team and the 'defense support team'"). If that's the case, then part of that could well be to steer him away from making any point about the disappearance of those bloody baggage records. Well, who knows. However, I note that Megrahi's lawyer, the advocate dealing with the second appeal, is now someone called Kelly....

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Some of the areas that we've acquired, such as the complete trial transcripts, some of the productions and photos of evidence, amongst the myriad of information available on the www, have without doubt been of great assistance. So long as you filter it. However, even with this relatively limited access to evidence and other documentation compared to that at the disposal of those involved in the case itself, there are a number of clear and critical flaws that were not pursued.

The manual. The indian head tests and reports. The testing of evidence for explosive residue. The Frankfurt loss of documents. The ambiguous nature of B8849.

I can see that some of that might be stuff you wouldn't want to get into, unless you were extraordinarily sure of your ground. Trying to make a point that the prosecuting authorities had deliberately tampered with evidence is not going to make you friends or influence people, and unless it's incontrovertible it may look like the flailings of a defence team in desperation. However Kochler's reports, especially the second one, are a catalogue of missed tricks on their behalf, as you point out.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Latterly, during the first appeal, much was made of the break-in at Heathrow being suppressed, although they seemingly approached this argument, and the evidence against Malta, and for Heathrow, incorrectly.

Were Megrahi's defence and their apparent Libyan advisors aware as the first case at Zeist progressed that, given what the consequences of an acquittal for both would entail, this was never even a remote possibility. No matter how tenuous the case against would appear. My goodness, even if it's completely preposterous and contradictory, someone will have to be convicted?

Both found not proven or not guilty opens a can of worms we don't even want to consider! Not even two decades later.

What is this all about??!

It's about something, that's for sure.

Coming back to the matter of the Frankfurt baggage records, the inescapable impression is of the Frankfurt authorities, which presumably includes the CIA as well as the BKA, being in full cover-up mode from pretty much the get-go. This brings us an interesting full-circle to the claims of people at Lockerbie that the CIA were all over the place from the early hours of the investigation, allegedly tampering with evidence.

I've never been sure how much credence to give to these stories. David ben Aryeah and Tam Dalyell have been particularly prominent voices in that respect. We do know that a flight carrying Pan Am personnel and presumably FBI personnel left London for Carlisle very soon after the crash, and some reports say some people were helicoptered in. Some of this may have been over-interpreted.

Nevertheless, there's the persistent story of Charles McKee's suitcase. Charles Norrie's bizarre fact-free theory about the bombing includes an interesting assumption - that McKee's suitcase had some sort of transponder in it that would allow it to be found if it went missing. This could explain the otherwise strange report that US officials (presumed CIA) found that suitcase very early in the search and spirited it away for private examination before it was picked up by the Scottish searchers. It allegedly had a hole cut in the side of it - not necessarily the obvious way of getting at the contents, but maybe necessary to remove such a transponder or something else that was built into the suitcase?

Then it gets more peculiar, with a missing body, and a suitcase with drugs in it and a label with a name on it that wasn't one of the dead.

It's about the Neuss PFLP-GC and operation Autumn Leaves, that's for sure given the abandoning of the special defence, and the summit phone call, and other stuff. Is it just about Khreesat being a triple agent who was caught red-handed but released on the CIA's say-so and then went on to carry out the bombing? That's been fairly common knowledge for ages; I think there must be more to it than that, and maybe only Middle East experts can know what.

It's about stuff going on in Frankfurt Airport's baggage system on 21st December. Is this part of the same thing, or a different issue? Buggered if I know.

And maybe it's about the US officials who joined the plane at Heathrow, and whose luggage was probably also in AVE4041. Again, is this another separate issue, or is it all connected? I have no idea.

And as you say, 22 years later they're still covering up. I'm not sure that necessarily means it's still a live issue or potentially hugely damaging now - once these agencies get into cover-up mode, they stay in cover-up mode. Maybe now, it's really about covering up the original cover-up. I don't think they're just going to come clean and tell us though.

Rolfe.
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Old 15th July 2010, 04:54 PM   #383
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Well, that went down like a lead balloon. I just agreed with the allegation that a "terrorist's" defence lawyers were part of a conspiracy to get him wrongfully convicted, right here in the CT section of the JREF Forums, and not even a nibble.

A "terrorist" who is currently headline news because the entire USA seems to be baying for his blood because he caused the Gulf oil leak or something.

No debunker want to take this on?

Rolfe.
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Old 15th July 2010, 05:56 PM   #384
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If we assume Yasar Koca's recorded times are reasonably in synch with the computer clock, where could tray B8849 have come from?
  • Somehow, Megrahi got it on KM180, all tagged for PA103, and covered his tracks better than Captain Oates in the snowstorm.
  • It was the luggage of the Disneyworld family, who changed their flights at Frankfurt.
  • Someone threw that extra suitcase into the KM180 wagon while it was sitting in V3 for about three minutes before Koca and Mehmet Candar got started on it.
  • Someone came up to the coding station at 13.07 with a stray suitcase, and rather than wait till the coders had finished with the wagon, asked them to take that case because he was in a hurry.
  • Koca accidentally mis-coded a case for PA103A in error.
The first one is essentially impossible. If the CIA and all the hosts of heaven couldn't get that to look even marginally possible, it didn't happen, frankly. The second is attractive, but it seems vanishingly improbable that nobody spotted a case tagged for PA103 in the KM180 check-in records, and realised it was B8849, quite innocently. I don't know about the third, because nobody ever suggested it. Maybe the wagons were too closely observed, and the act would have been so verboten that nobody would have been able to get away with it. Or maybe not, who knows. The fourth is touched on in the appeal judgement, but funnily enough neither the prosecution nor the defence asked either Candar or Koca if this had happened that day. [I wonder why not...?] The last is very unlikely as all the passengers on KM180 got their luggage when they expected it. That rules out all the passengers flying to Frankfurt, who would have noticed if they'd had to wait till going on four o'clock for their luggage, and in fact it could only have happened to an interline bag for a flight late enough for the mistake to be noticed after 15.23 and the bag taken to the right flight.

What if Koca's watch was actually four minutes fast?
  • He'd actually have been finished coding by 13.07, so maybe someone came and coded a single bag at that point.
This point is made by Mr. Taylor, but it's nonsense. The KM180 wagon only arrived in V3 at 13.01. Even if it was wheeled straight to station 206, it could hardly have been started in time.

What if Koca really wrote 13.16 as the finish time?
  • Get over it, he didn't, even though the appeal court accepted he might have. The prosecution explanation for the Damascus tale is entirely probable.
What if Koca's watch was at least four minutes slow with respect to the computer clock?
  • It was a case from the previous flight Koca coded.
  • It was a case thrown into the wagon for the previous flight, while it was awaiting coding.
  • It was a case brought to the station during the coding of the previous flight.
The problem with the first one is that there was no passenger on the previous flight booked for PA103A either. So if B8849 was actually from that wagon, it was a mis-code, and again we'd be looking at something either left at the gate or retrieved and re-routed between 15.23 and 16.53.

The idea of someone coming to station 206 with a single bag (or throwing it in the wagon) is attractive, and although qute a lot is said in court that if that happened then a record would still be made, we only know that such a record was made on some occasions - not how often it happened and no record was made.

However, if that did happen, then I believe (contrary to what I carelessly said earlier) it must have been a legitimate bag. If a bomb or drugs was introduced like that, it would have been too risky. That case (if it went on the plane) was x-rayed by Maier. All the rumours of introductions at Frankfurt, bag switches and so on, involve introducing the case after the x-ray stage - immediately before loading on the aircraft.

I really think, if Taylor had presented it something like this (leaving out the obvious no-nos of course), and simply said, look there are too many possibilities here and while each one may be regarded as unlikely when viewed in isolation, when you add them together then there's just too much uncertainty, he might have made a better impression. And then you add that nobody knows what was in that tray anyway, it might bave been a bag of golf clubs.

But, does anyone really want to champion any of these as being a really solid candidate for the tray? Because I don't.

It's back to the coincidence thing again. Some fortuitous quirk of fate produced a bag, which by pure chance, just happened to look exactly like a suitcase that came off KM180.... where Megrahi the JSO officer was lurking incognito, right at the very moment the flight was checking in.

It's too neat. Every time, it pushes me to consider whether the BKA simply added that tray to the existing records, knowing very well that there was a potential suspect (or scapegoat) at the departure of that flight.

And for tomorrow's exciting installment of pure speculation and wild brainstorming, watch this space.

Rolfe.
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Old 16th July 2010, 09:51 AM   #385
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More on procedures at the coding stations, and could another bag have been coded in the middle of coding KM180's luggage. This is actually dealt with in a lot of detail in the appeal judgement, and bears close examination.

Remember that each coding station was staffed by two people, in this case Yaser Koca and Mehmet Candar. They took turn about with the two jobs - one lifting the cases from the wagon on to the conveyor belt, while the other looked at the baggage tags and coded the destinations into the computer. At the relevant time, Candar was doing the heavy lifting and Koca the coding. While Koca (who made the written record of which flight was coded when) was not called as a witness, Candar was. His evidence was the subject of one point of appeal.

Quote:
The court erred in concluding in para 35 that none of the defence submissions cast doubt on the inference from the Frankfurt documents and other evidence that an unaccompanied bag was transferred from KM180 to PA103A in respect that: …
(v) the court failed to take account of the defence submissions … as to the effect of the evidence of Candar who indicated that he would as a matter of practice be prepared to encode a case for a colleague without knowing where it came from.

Take note of that last phrase, because it's about to be the subject of a bit more smoke and mirrors.

Quote:
This ground of appeal focuses upon evidence given by Mr Candar, who worked at Frankfurt airport at the material time loading suitcases. His duties sometimes involved him working at coding stations in area V3. His questioning ran as follows:
“Q: Did it never happen that one or two or perhaps three suitcases were brought to you at 206, for example, by a colleague who asked you to code that suitcase or those suitcases through your station at 206?
A: If it’s my work friend, if it’s a friend next to me, and if they have brought three or five suitcases, then I would code it, but I wouldn’t know where he has brought the suitcase from, from the car or from where. But definitely I will code the suitcases that is brought to me by my friend.
Q: If an individual who appeared to be an official at the airport appeared at your coding station with an individual bag and asked you to code that through, did you ever do such a thing?
A: If it’s a person working at the airport, if they are working at the airport and they are wearing clothing … but if it’s a stranger, that hasn’t got the airport uniform, then obviously we would ask them who they are.”

It's that first (bolded) point we're interested in. If a work friend brought a case or a few cases to his station and asked him to code them, he would do it. (The rest of it is enquiring about the possibility of a stranger slipping a rogue bag in this way, but that's not really important because we're not trying to prove that B8849 was a rogue bag at all, just a mis-placed bag being put into the system at the nearest possible station.)
So far as I can see, he wasn't asked whether he would allow such cases to be introduced in the middle of a run of luggage from a specific flight, so we can't know that he wouldn't.

Here's how the judgement interpreted Taylor's submission on this matter.

Quote:
Mr Taylor pointed out that, had Mr Koca done such a thing as was described in this passage of evidence, it was possible that the bag in tray B8849 had not come from flight KM180. Since Mr Koca had not been called to give evidence, it was difficult to understand how the trial court could have felt confident that there had been no doubt about the inference which it drew from the evidence. While there existed no record of any such event in the coders’ worksheets, it was not known what practice Mr Koca had adopted in relation to recording. [Snip bit about the Damascus flight.] A further part of the background which was relevant was that in some instances luggage became lost during transport at the airport and, on being found, would usually be taken to the closest coding station, where, according to the evidence of Mr Koscha, it would be coded.

So the odd stray bag or three, if found in the wrong place, would simply be taken to the nearest coding station and coded. How can we possibly be sure this didn't happen at about 13.07 that afternoon?

If someone came over with one (or maybe a few) cases, in a big hurry, and said, "Hey mate, can you just put these through for me now?" we have absolutely no evidence that Candar or Koca would have said no, wait till we've finished this flight. It seems to me the likely answer might be, "OK, just put them down there and we'll do them when we've finished this lot," but we can't be sure of this. Such cases might simply have been intermixed with the KM180 baggage for coding. Of course that wasn't correct practice, but, as Mr. Taylor submitted, "It appeared that while the coders were, no doubt, told to be accurate in their work, the evidence was that they did not always succeed in this."

Naturally, the judges have an answer.

Quote:
In reply, the Advocate depute submitted that the presentation of this ground of appeal on behalf of the appellant had been based upon a misconstruction of the evidence of Mr Candar. [....] What was apparent from a full and proper reading of the evidence of Mr Candar was that, so far as he was concerned, any bag which he coded would be recorded. [....] He was not asked whether he would undertake the coding of bags for another employee without making a record. It was a plain inference from his evidence that, if he was at his own coding station and had been asked to code for a colleague, he would make a record of this as well. The flight from which any particular bag had come, by whatever means, would always be known, because that information was available on the tag which was attached to the suitcase.

We realise now that while he wouldn't have known where these cases came from in terms of were they lost, or from another wagon, or from customs or whatever, he would obviously have been able to tell which flight they came from, from the information on the tag, and so he would have been able to note that on the worksheet.

So, Candar said or implied that he would always make a note of such luggage on his worksheet, if that happened, and which flight the bag came from. Elsewhere in the evidence, reference is made to items coded this way appearing in the worksheets as entries with no finish time.

Well, yes, I'm sure he would say that. That's what the employees were supposed to do, and how likely is a baggage handler to admit in court that he didn't always follow proper procedure? Even if he did, it wasn't him making the written record at that time, it was the absent Koca. Nobody ever seems to have asked Koca whether he would 100% every time have made a note of any cases introduced like that. (This is the guy who was in such a hurry writing up the worksheet that you can't tell a 0 from a 6.)

Bear in mind a passage from earlier in the judgement.

Quote:
Mr Koscha [....] had acknowledged that mistakes had been made, that entries were not always chronological and that coders might forget timeously to complete entries and make them later.

Can we be sure "beyond reasonable doubt" that nobody appeared with a stray bag or three, round about that time, and instead of taking the trouble to make a separate record of these bags, Koca just incorporated them in the KM180 coding? Of course we can see from the paperwork that such entries were sometimes made. What we don't know is what percentage of the time they weren't, and whether Koca in particular was or wasn't conscientious in this respect.

Well, of course nobody asked Mr. Koca anything at all!

Quote:
A further important consideration was that Mr Candar had not been asked during the course of his evidence whether, during the time that he was involved in the coding of baggage from flight KM180, any person came and asked him to code any other baggage. Since he had been at station 206 loading bags on to the belt for coding, he would have been the person to ask about that. In all these circumstances the proposition which the appellant sought to derive from Mr Candar’s evidence was based upon speculation that he might have coded a bag for a colleague during the processing of bags from flight KM180, and that, contrary to his practice, he would not have made any record of having done so. When one understood correctly the evidence given by Mr Candar, it was no surprise that the trial court attached no merit to the criticisms made.

Well, would he? Would there have been any point at all in asking that question? Remember how long it must have taken before anyone pointed out to Candar and Koca that their work was at all relevant to the crash. They were doing their normal job, coding incoming luggage, and they dealt with a lot of flights every day. They were themselves only one of many coding stations. Even though they would have been aware of the disaster, why should they have imagined that their work had anything to do with it? Or if it had, that KM180 at just after 1 o'clock was the key moment, in relation to a flight that didn't leave until nearly 5 o'clock?

Arguably, checking on interline transfers to PA103A is one of the things the investigators should have done within the first few days, if they'd been scrutinising the evidence they should have secured. However, even assuming they secured that evidence, there's no sign at all of them having done so. We don't even know if they questioned Candar and/or Koca in February, when the Erac printout allegedly surfaced. (It would be interesting to know that though.) Even by February, what was the chance of anyone remembering exactly what had happened on such a routine and repetitive workday, six weeks earier?

The only reasonable question anyone could ask, it seems to me, is, "can you be absolutely definite that you would always have made a note on the worksheet if an extra case or three appeared for coding in the middle of another flight?" I suspect, actually, that the defence might have been reluctant to ask, because an employee fearful of the disciplinary process might swear, "Oh yes!" even if it wasn't true, while conversely the prosecution might equally have been afraid of an employee who felt unable to give such a categorical assurance. Candar seems to have implied he would always have made a record. We simply do not know what Koca would have done.

But here's the court's final decision.

Quote:
In particular, it is clear from Mr Candar’s evidence that, although he would have been prepared to code suitcases brought to him by a colleague, he would have recorded what he was doing. That circumstance appears to us to deprive the submission of any force. Furthermore, we regard it as of importance that Mr Candar, along with Mr Koca, had been involved in coding of the luggage from flight KM180 at the material time. Yet it was never put to him that he had participated in the coding of items of baggage at that time which had not come from flight KM180. Against this background, it appears to us that the defence submission amounts to no more than speculation. For these reasons we reject this ground of appeal.

Duh! Neither Candar nor Koca had a hope in hell of remembering what had happened during the six minutes they were coding one particular random arriving flight, seven hours before a completely different departing flight fell out of the sky, when the relevance of the recollection wasn't known about until weeks (or months?) later.

Candar said, in general, yes he would code extra items brought to him by a colleague, but implied he would always make a record of this on the worksheet. However, Koca was the one keeping the worksheet, not Candar, and we don't know if he would have said the same. We don't even know if either of them would have been truthful about the matter. Koca's worksheet certainly bears evidence of being completed very hurriedly.

The judges declared, "The records were records regularly kept for the purposes of the airport business, and can be accepted in the absence of some reason to doubt their accuracy." They didn't think there was sufficient reason to doubt the accuracy. They placed on the defence the burden of proving that the records weren't accurate. The amount of doubt the defence introduced on the subject wasn't apparently sufficient.

I'd agree that on the balance of probabilities, the records indicate a suitcase from KM180. However, if one then factors in the absence of any stray suitcase being present on KM180, that changes the game. Is it more likely that something was magically spirited past security at Luqa, which even the gargantuan efforts of the investigating authorities failed to find evidence for, or that someone wandered up to station 206 round about 13.07 (give or take for clocks and watches showing slightly different times) with a couple of misdirected suitcases, one of which was for PA103A, and these were coded without Koca bothering to make a note of it?

Here's what one of the appeal judges had to say about the former possibility.

Originally Posted by Lord Osborne
But is it not a different matter to say, on the basis of these features of the situation, that the bomb passed through Luqa Airport, standing that there is considerable and quite convincing evidence that that could not have happened.” He further stated: “Now, it’s quite difficult rationally to follow how the Court take the step of saying, ‘Well, we don’t know how it got onto the flight. We can’t say that. But it must have been there.’ On the face of it, it may not be a rational conclusion.

Nevertheless, faced with the choice between this "considerable and quite convincing evidence" that the bomb didn't pass through Luqa, and the possibility of Koca forgetting to make a note of an extra bag or two, the judges unanimously went for the Luqa option.

My God, it's "which day did it rain?" all over again.

I realise this is tl;dr, but I've been working it out in my head as I typed, and I'd like to keep the detailed reasoning. I'll put a summary post up later, for ease of reference.

Rolfe.
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Old 17th July 2010, 03:40 PM   #386
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Sigh. I seem to have this thread to myself. Trying to summarise, what does it mean if Bogomira and her printout are completely on the level and the printout was never tampered with?

When I first read the appeal judgement I thought the judges cast a lot of doubt on the possibility that a genuine bag not from KM180 could have been coded at 13.07 - mainly because they knocked down some of Mr. Taylor's hypotheses quite convincingly, especially the Damascus flight thing. However, having looked in more detail, I'm not so impressed. I think the judges erred in law, and I think Mr. Taylor missed an important trick.

The discussion was about the balance of probabilities, but actually, the wrong balance of probabilities. The probabilities examined were the probability that the records were correct and could be interpreted in the normal way (that is, 13.07 at station 206 means KM180), versus the possibility that a bag from another flight (genuinely tagged for PA103A) had somehow managed to be coded at that station at that time, and no record was made in the worksheet.

The latter situation was certainly not shown to be impossible. Koscha "acknowledged that mistakes had been made, that entries were not always chronological and that coders might forget timeously to complete entries and make them later." Candar agreed that he would code a bag, or several bags, brought to him by a colleague, though he implied he would always make a record. Nobody asked either Candar or Koca whether in that situation they would always record the bags as separate entries, and we can't be sure they would have replied truthfully and admitted poor work practices even if they had been asked.

If someone had shown up at station 206 with a few stray bags just after one o'clock, so far as we know, there's a possibility these bags might just have been intermingled with the KM180 luggage, rather than being coded as separate items. Alternatively, although it's unlikely Koca's watch was as much as three minutes slow, if such an event had occurred during the coding of the previous flight, the bags might have been coded between that and KM180, and Koca simply forgot to make a note of it. If his watch was three minutes slow, that would have occurred at 13.07, just at the start of coding KM180, but his written record would say 13.04.

Well, said the judges, but there's no evidence anything like that happened. And in the absence of any evidence to that effect, we are entitled to find that the records were reliable.

Quote:
It appears to us [....] that the documentary records compiled at Frankfurt could be used for the purpose of tracking baggage and that the results obtained could be relied upon [....]. In any event, in our opinion, the trial court was quite entitled in the light of such material to take that view. In all these circumstances we regard these grounds of appeal as without merit.

In effect, they have decided that looking at the Frankfurt evidence in isolation, the balance of probabilities falls much more on the side of the item having come from KM180, than it having been a careless mistake when coding some lost baggage. And they are right about this, in those terms.

However, those are not the correct terms in which to consider this question. The Frankfurt records do not exist in isolation. What comes down must have gone up. Ignoring the possibility of the stork flying alongside KM180 as it crossed the Med that midwinter morning, and introducing a suitcase into the baggage hold en route, a finding that tray B8849 represented a suitcase that was carried on KM180 implies a finding that an unaccompanied suitcase was smuggled on to KM180. And what was the probability of that?

Originally Posted by Lord Osborne
[T]here is considerable and quite convincing evidence that that could not have happened.

This is the real balance of probabilities Mr. Taylor should have invited them to contemplate. It has to be one or the other. Either the Luqa evidence has a hole in it where an unaccompanied suitcase might have been introduced, or the Frankfurt evidence has a hole in it where tray B8849 was something that didn't originate from KM180.

If there's one thing everyone in this case seems to agree on, it is that the Luqa evidence was solid. Nobody ever came up with any actual scenario, no matter how improbable, whereby an unaccompanied suitcase could have been introduced into that flight. In contrast we have a perfectly possible scenario at Frankfurt whereby tray B4489 wasn't related to the flight at all.

That latter scenario is indeed less probable when tested solely against the probability that the Frankfurt records could be taken at face value. However, it is more probable than some purely hypothetical sleight-of-hand having occurred at Luqa. And once that is recognised, the latter comparison trumps the former.

You can't, logically, say that the introduction at Luqa "could not have happened", then somehow reverse that so that it did, merely because you've decided on the balance of probabilities that the Frankfurt records were accurate. Lord Osborne seems to have realised that.

Quote:
Now, it’s quite difficult rationally to follow how the Court takes the step of saying, ‘Well, we don’t know how it got onto the flight. We can’t say that. But it must have been there.’ On the face of it, it may not be a rational conclusion.

Well, exactly. Surely, the very solid nature of the Luqa evidence tips the consideration of the Frankfurt evidence towards the stray bag that wasn't recorded, even though at first sight that might have seemed relatively unlikely. In law, I think that has to be true. But it doesn't seem to have been put to the court on either occasion, and even though Lord Osborne seems to have "got" it, he ignored the point when he concurred in denying the appeal.

I'm still quite dubious about the printout in general, partly because of the manner of its preservation in the context of the apparent cover-up of all the baggage records, and partly because of the sheer neat convenience of the appearance of that entry, right bang in the middle of the coding time for KM180. However, if that bizarre story is actually true, then even though it is a coincidence, the solid "no" from the Luqa evidence has to over-ride the merely probable "yes" from the Frankfurt evidence.

And why didn't Mr. Taylor put it like that, since that's in effect the argument everybody else has been making ever since?

Rolfe.
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Old 17th July 2010, 03:55 PM   #387
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OK, having grokked that one to its fullest, I'm completely ready to examine the possibility of the printout being just another scam anyway. If anyone feels like coming with me....

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Old 18th July 2010, 04:35 AM   #388
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There's still, albeit appearing increasingly unlikely, the merest possibility that the printout saved by Bogomire can't be totally dismissed as genuinely showing a rogue bag arriving at coding station 206, and as luck would have it, at just at the time when a flight arriving from the same place as clothes around 103's bomb were found, had arrived at Frankfurt. (yeah, I know, but bear with me)

The FBI themselves were of the same conclusion as yourself on the revelation of Bogomire's copy - as oppose to the records the BKA themselves had secured.

Originally Posted by FBI Interneal Report Oct 1989
There remains the possibility that no luggage was transferred from Air Malta 180 to Pan Am 103. There is no concrete indication that any piece of luggage was unloaded from Air Malta 180, sent through the luggage routing system at Frankfurt airport, and then loaded on board Pan Am 103.
Indeed, the FBI went onto conclude that the baggage records from Frankfurt were "misleading". Still, much like the apparent lackadaisical attitude of the German's in securing the records of 103a, and the wider baggage operations of the airport on the 21st, so much so missing out on a whole 1 week timeframe that records were still available before being wiped, and the allegations of withholding crucial documentation from investigators, there's not even barely a hint of vexation from either the US or UK government.

As you point out however, the balance of probablities to be judged upon is the irrefutable evidence showing that no unaccompanied baggage was carried on KM180 against that of the total lack of wider and comprehensive records relating to Frankfurts baggage movements at the airport on the 21st and the wholly incongruous nature of B8849's appearance.

And that brings me right back to an assertion I made many months ago; Perhaps any comprehensive showing of records made by Frankfurt and the BKA would have illustrated the chaotic, perhaps even surreptitious, movements of baggage around the airport, including the unaccounted for appearance of B8849, but didn't become relevant for them to produce until the clothing became of some importance (and perhaps Giaka's information was being filtered by the American's).

However, for the Germans to release this information under their own authority would have been seen as completely unacceptable given they had led everyone to believe they had not managed to secure the records, and so the fortuitous tale of Bogomire's copy became the conjured and only acceptable reason for the printout showing B8849 late appearance in the investigation.

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Old 18th July 2010, 03:28 PM   #389
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I was looking again at the published "Summary of Grounds for Appeal", and noticed a couple of interesting points.

First, Megrahi doesn't seem to have changed solicitors. The firm is named as Taylor and Kelly (it was Taylor and Keegans at the time of the trial).

Second, they got it about the comparison between the Luqa and Frankfurt baggage records evidence.

Quote:
While there were computer records from Frankfurt which could be interpreted as suggesting that an unaccompanied bag was loaded at Luqa, there was unchallenged evidence from records and witnesses from Luqa which suggested that this did not happen. Both cannot be correct.

Third, and this is interesting, Megrahi was never actually convicted of putting the bomb on the plane, merely of being "mixed up in it somehow".

Quote:
The Trial Court did not convict the appellant as the principal perpetrator there was no finding that he was responsible for introducing the IED into the airline baggage system and thus onto Pan Am 103. He was convicted as an accessory on the basis that he assisted in carrying out part of the common criminal plan to commit the crime. The only act found to have been carried out by the appellant which could amount to participation in the crime was the purchase of clothing which was found to have been in the same suitcase as the IED.

The decision that Megrahi bought the clothes (in spite of the less-than-confident identification) leant on the idea that he had been at the airport when the bomb was introduced. But the conclusion that tray B8849 contained the bomb (rather than any of the other unaccompanied bags flying around that day) leant on Megrahi having been the airport when that plane left. Flimsy bits of "evidence" propping each other up, take one away and the whole house of cards collapses.

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Old 18th July 2010, 05:40 PM   #390
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
There's still, albeit appearing increasingly unlikely, the merest possibility that the printout saved by Bogomire can't be totally dismissed as genuinely showing a rogue bag arriving at coding station 206, and as luck would have it, at just at the time when a flight arriving from the same place as clothes around 103's bomb were found, had arrived at Frankfurt. (yeah, I know, but bear with me)

You may have to draw me a diagram on that one. Are you saying it's faintly possible Bogomira is on the level? (And even that the printout hasn't been tampered with?)

She seems straight. She has appeared on a documentary (more than Tony has, there seems to be one solitary picture of him, taken moments before he put his hand over the camera). She involves Berg as well, meaning that both have to be lying if the story isn't true. In some ways it's one huge argument from incredulity we're engaged in here.

On the other hand, she gave evidence anonymously ("Madame X") at the original hearings, which is odd. And she has a bit of a Mona Lisa look about her I don't quite trust. I don't know what to think.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
The FBI themselves were of the same conclusion as yourself on the revelation of Bogomire's copy - as oppose to the records the BKA themselves had secured.

I don't quite follow your meaning here. That quote just seems to be saying what we've also been saying - that tray B8849 does not constitute concrete indication that any piece of luggage was unloaded from Air Malta 180. Which it doesn't. Unless you're a Scottish judge who seems to have taken leave of his senses. It's interesting that the FBI acknowledged that at that time though.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Indeed, the FBI went onto conclude that the baggage records from Frankfurt were "misleading". Still, much like the apparent lackadaisical attitude of the German's in securing the records of 103a, and the wider baggage operations of the airport on the 21st, so much so missing out on a whole 1 week timeframe that records were still available before being wiped, and the allegations of withholding crucial documentation from investigators, there's not even barely a hint of vexation from either the US or UK government.

My feeling has been that the FBI were investigating this in good faith. So perhaps it's not surprising that their early conclusions were reasonable, before the Cannistraro version had been advanced into serious consideration. Who was telling everyone not to question the BKA's performance, I wonder. (The memo didn't get as far as PC Plod and the Brit journalists though.)

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
As you point out however, the balance of probablities to be judged upon is the irrefutable evidence showing that no unaccompanied baggage was carried on KM180 against that of the total lack of wider and comprehensive records relating to Frankfurts baggage movements at the airport on the 21st and the wholly incongruous nature of B8849's appearance.

It's what we've all been saying from the start. It's just that the court judgements lead you by the nose down a different route. They concentrate on showing that it's quite unlikely that B8849 was a stray bag from somewhere else, to the point you're convinced they're right, so there must have been a rogue bag on that plane.

But as Taylor and Kelly finally get round to saying, you have to choose. Do you give more weight to the "considerable and quite convincing evidence" from Luqa that an unaccompanied bag could not have travelled on KM180, or to the mere improbability of a coding or recording mistake at Frankfurt? The judges attempted to have it both ways, which you simply cannot do. And the muddled and mostly vanished state of the Frankfurt records should really make it a no-brainer.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
And that brings me right back to an assertion I made many months ago; Perhaps any comprehensive showing of records made by Frankfurt and the BKA would have illustrated the chaotic, perhaps even surreptitious, movements of baggage around the airport, including the unaccounted for appearance of B8849, but didn't become relevant for them to produce until the clothing became of some importance (and perhaps Giaka's information was being filtered by the American's).

Yes, I remember you saying that. They tried to say the records were OK because they could trace certain other bags through the system that way, but that doesn't tell us whether all the bags were showing up as they should, or what percentage weren't. I think there was evidence of a couple of other unaccompanied bags on that printout (Warsaw and Kuwait?), which makes the Malta one hardly unique. Were they mis-codes too? That, plus the possibility that a batch of unrecorded bags may have been coded at station 206, with only one for PA103A, also begins to make it seem more possible.

I was looking again at Tam Dalyell's theorising. He takes the Frankfurt bag-switch theory seriously, as I think did most people (including Paul Foot) until Bedford came out from under the stone at the trial. He's obviously of a CT mindset on this (and he's a black-hearted unionist), but he was an MP with credible contacts and sources, and a qualified Scots lawyer, and not actually certifiable.

Quote:
It began, many of us believe, with the shooting down, without apology, by the USS Vincennes of an Iranian airliner carrying about 350 pilgrims from Iran to Mecca. The Iranian Minister of the Interior at the time was Ali Akbar Mostashemi. Mostashemi made repeated statements that blood would rain down in revenge for what had happened. Crucially, he had been the Iranian ambassador in Damascus from 1982 to 1985. He had close contacts with the terrorist drug gangs of Beirut and the Beka'a valley.

Those gangs had infiltrated an American drugs sting operation, by which heroin was taken from the Beka'a, via the Rhein-Main airport in Frankfurt and into the United States. They got hold of a very naive first-time courier; his name was Khaled Jafar. The young man was told that he would be met by "friends" when he reached Frankfurt. He took with him a Samsonite case of the very type that was to feature in the fatal accident inquiry and in the Lockerbie case. The so-called friends took him for, doubtless, a lovely day in Heidelberg and the Neckar valley, during which time other friends - the Neuss gang, for it was they, and Marwen Khreesat in particular - changed the contents from heroin to Semtex. Crucially, the Samsonite case was exempted luggage because of the arrangement at a very high level of the American and German Governments. That is how it got through the usual careful procedures at the Frankfurt airport.

Well, it's interesting. And this was following the FAI, at which anyone interested could have heard Bedford's evidence, I believe. Where did that detail come from? And it does seem as if it's the proponents of the Frankfurt bag-switch theory who find themselves on the wrong side of US government reprisals - Francovich, Coleman, Shaughnessy for example.

I certainly don't believe The Maltese Double Cross is deliberate fraud, and this does seem a bit like smoke that may be attached to fire. Not necessarily Semtex fire, but hot stuff nonetheless.

He also thinks Maggie (and Bush) were covering up.

Quote:
We believe that, at a very early stage, the American Government asked the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, to play Lockerbie low key. It is an incredible fact which I draw to the attention of my hon. Friend the Minister of State that, in the 800 self-serving pages that Margaret Thatcher wrote, she never mentioned Lockerbie once. What she did say was that the "much-vaunted" Libyan retaliation for her unwarranted attack on Ben Gazi and Tripoli in 1986 never came about. If the British Prime Minister, with her access to intelligence, really believed that, how on earth could she suppose that the Libyans were responsible for the Lockerbie crime?

And then again....

Quote:
The Libyans say, "We see the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four. We hear all these rumours of unsafe decisions in British courts of law. What on earth will happen to the Libyan Two?"

Especially when it's the same dodgy scientists handling the forensic evidence, for God's sake!

Quote:
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Crown Office simply does not want to pursue avenues of investigation which might lead to inconvenient destinations.

Yes. And what is that inconvenient destination? Frankfurt, and something that might have been revealed by close forensic examination of the Frankfurt baggage system, I think. Which wasn't necessarily the bomb. And I'm not entirely sure it was just Jafaar and the heroin sting. McKee and Gannon et al. were also on that flight.... Of course by now they're probably just covering up the cover-up and the original scandal is neither here not there, but it's getting pretty ugly out there.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
However, for the Germans to release this information under their own authority would have been seen as completely unacceptable given they had led everyone to believe they had not managed to secure the records, and so the fortuitous tale of Bogomire's copy became the conjured and only acceptable reason for the printout showing B8849 late appearance in the investigation.

Well yes. The printout is too convenient by half, and Bogomira is too convenient by half.

Even if tray B8849 is an interpolation, the very fact of her having preserved a copy so that they could use her as the excuse for producing such a tiny snapshot of the records alone, is mind-boggling.

Not quite so mind-boggling as tray B8849 appearing right smack in the middle of that coding window though. The investigation team would have given a major body part for that piece of evidence. For it to appear as a mistake gives me a bad dose of incredulity indeed.

I've grokked Gauci - he did sell those clothes, unlikely as it may seem, the alternatives are even more unlikely. So then, I consider, is this rampant suicidal carelessness, or might it be a deliberate misdirection away from Heathrow?

I've grokked the MST-13 and the SF-16. Can't prove they're fabricated, and they need not have been, but there is sure as hell a big suspicion they were.

I've grokked the Bedford suitcase. It goes bang.

I still haven't grokked that printout. It doesn't prove a damn thing and should never have been allowed to, but it's way too convenient to live.

I think it's about the fine but absolutely crucial difference between Megrahi's conviction being a complete travesty, which is 100% certain, and being 100% sure he didn't do it. Until we can understand what was going on with the printout, I can only be theoretically confident nothing went on at Luqa, when I want to be emotionally confident.

Rolfe.
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Old 18th July 2010, 05:55 PM   #391
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I suppose everyone who had the slightest interest in keeping Megrahi in jail and as the 'convicted bomber' were only too aware that the whole pretence of Zeist was in the process of completely unravelling. Much to the US and UK Governments consternation. Not to mention those within the Scottish crown office acutely aware of the repercussions for the Scottish Judiciary system.

Perhaps, even in the interests of Libya. It's really in no one's interests to have the whole shebang stoked up again is it? Lots of money to be made and a whole new market opened up for all countries involved to exploit. Who are the losers in retaining the status quo?

Well, quite obviously Megrahi himself, consigned to history as the man who committed the Pan Am bombing, or at the very least was instrumental in arranging the bombing. There are many have made careers from Lockerbie. And, above all, the poor souls who boarded 103 at Heathrow that evening looking forward to Christmas with their family and friends. Of course, those mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, brothers and sisters have suffered unimaginable distress since then, but as Mr Duggan is testament to, there are some who also have much to lose in this unravelling of Megrahi's conviction.

Perhaps in years to come, the truth will out. However, it'll be long after everyone concerned with Pan Am 103 has departed this mortal coil, and as Georgia Nucci succinctly put it in Lockerbie:revisited, "the people who've lied to us, and they've lied to us, they have their conscience to live with".
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Old 18th July 2010, 06:07 PM   #392
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Ever since it was first reported what happened to that plane, it's been the stuff of nightmares. Only a small expolsion, but causing in-flight break-up. As one article said, the passengers who were settling down for dinner and the in-flight movie found themselves looking at the cold night air at 32,000 feet. I can only get on a plane by reminding myself that squillions of planes take off and land safely every day, and I feel lucky.

But whichever way you slice it, this was political. What about the 290 people on IA655? What about the people killed in Tripoli and Benghazi? This isn't quite in Yorkshire Ripper territory. More than one side is culpable here. And history moves on. Gadaffi is the new Best Friend. Iran is Public Enemy Number One for entirely unrelated reasons. It's not about keeping a terminally ill man in jail hundreds of miles from home. It's about knowing what happened.

Historians viewing this with a disinterested eye will easily see that the trial was a farce. In fact, thanks to internet access to the source material, we can all be historians now. But what will they make of the rest of it?

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Old 18th July 2010, 06:59 PM   #393
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Sorry, a bit of cross posting there

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
You may have to draw me a diagram on that one. Are you saying it's faintly possible Bogomira is on the level? (And even that the printout hasn't been tampered with?)

She seems straight. She has appeared on a documentary (more than Tony has, there seems to be one solitary picture of him, taken moments before he put his hand over the camera). She involves Berg as well, meaning that both have to be lying if the story isn't true. In some ways it's one huge argument from incredulity we're engaged in here.

On the other hand, she gave evidence anonymously ("Madame X") at the original hearings, which is odd. And she has a bit of a Mona Lisa look about her I don't quite trust. I don't know what to think.
Well, I'm not 100% sure what to think either, but confident that Megrahi didn't buy the clothes, and KM180 didn't carry an unaccompanied bag, then it's extremely hard not to fall on the side of Bogomire's printout being manipulated to infer the, albeit tenuous, possibilty of this bag being inserted by someone at Luqa. However, perhaps unreasonably, I'd like to be more than the 99% sure that this printout was rigged.


Quote:
I don't quite follow your meaning here. That quote just seems to be saying what we've also been saying - that tray B8849 does not constitute concrete indication that any piece of luggage was unloaded from Air Malta 180. Which it doesn't. Unless you're a Scottish judge who seems to have taken leave of his senses. It's interesting that the FBI acknowledged that at that time though.
I'm simply pointing out that even with the Erac printout finally in the possession of the investigators, they themselves were wholly unconvinced by B8849 conflicting assertion given the incontestable evidence supllied by Air Malta.


Quote:
My feeling has been that the FBI were investigating this in good faith. So perhaps it's not surprising that their early conclusions were reasonable, before the Cannistraro version had been advanced into serious consideration. Who was telling everyone not to question the BKA's performance, I wonder. (The memo didn't get as far as PC Plod and the Brit journalists though.)
Well indeed, I really think the silence from Washington and Downing street over the whole matter of the apparent BKA and Frankfurt authroities ineptitude, or obstruction, in procuring evidence from Germany, is notable.


Quote:
It's what we've all been saying from the start. It's just that the court judgements lead you by the nose down a different route. They concentrate on showing that it's quite unlikely that B8849 was a stray bag from somewhere else, to the point you're convinced they're right, so there must have been a rogue bag on that plane.

But as Taylor and Kelly finally get round to saying, you have to choose. Do you give more weight to the "considerable and quite convincing evidence" from Luqa that an unaccompanied bag could not have travelled on KM180, or to the mere improbability of a coding or recording mistake at Frankfurt? The judges attempted to have it both ways, which you simply cannot do. And the muddled and mostly vanished state of the Frankfurt records should really make it a no-brainer.
And this point, along with the evidence the SCCRC had uncovered, only served to bolster the chances of Megrahi conviction being quashed on appeal. An appeal which was due to restart about 4 weeks after his release.


Quote:
Yes, I remember you saying that. They tried to say the records were OK because they could trace certain other bags through the system that way, but that doesn't tell us whether all the bags were showing up as they should, or what percentage weren't. I think there was evidence of a couple of other unaccompanied bags on that printout (Warsaw and Kuwait?), which makes the Malta one hardly unique. Were they mis-codes too? That, plus the possibility that a batch of unrecorded bags may have been coded at station 206, with only one for PA103A, also begins to make it seem more possible.
I suppose, I'm trying to make the case for allowing the legitimacy in some way for the Erac prinout. I want to believe that, on the whole, people tell the truth. Even more so, when it come to matters of such grave importance. But, in this particular scenario, it has become incresingly difficult.

Quote:
I was looking again at Tam Dalyell's theorising. He takes the Frankfurt bag-switch theory seriously, as I think did most people (including Paul Foot) until Bedford came out from under the stone at the trial. He's obviously of a CT mindset on this (and he's a black-hearted unionist), but he was an MP with credible contacts and sources, and a qualified Scots lawyer, and not actually certifiable.

Well, it's interesting. And this was following the FAI, at which anyone interested could have heard Bedford's evidence, I believe. Where did that detail come from? And it does seem as if it's the proponents of the Frankfurt bag-switch theory who find themselves on the wrong side of US government reprisals - Francovich, Coleman, Shaughnessy for example.

I certainly don't believe The Maltese Double Cross is deliberate fraud, and this does seem a bit like smoke that may be attached to fire. Not necessarily Semtex fire, but hot stuff nonetheless.
They were all forming their stories, and attempting to weave together alot of information, filtering the contradictory, completely off-track, and the genuine follow ups. I think had they been aware of the suppression for 10 years of the Heathrow break-in, this would have gave them further pause for thought. Perhaps revising the theory that the bag-switch was as sure as it may have seemed to them initially. Latterly Foot did seem to dismiss the drug-swap theory in favour of the Heathrow introduction using a barometric timer. He was fairly critical of Coleman and Goddards final conclusion, but accepted much of what they claimed of still of great importance.



Quote:
Especially when it's the same dodgy scientists handling the forensic evidence, for God's sake!
And we have the the US version carrying out the forensic work in Washington. This isn't by chance.


Quote:
Frankfurt, and something that might have been revealed by close forensic examination of the Frankfurt baggage system, I think. Which wasn't necessarily the bomb. And I'm not entirely sure it was just Jafaar and the heroin sting. McKee and Gannon et al. were also on that flight.... Of course by now they're probably just covering up the cover-up and the original scandal is neither here not there, but it's getting pretty ugly out there.
It's the only plausible reasoning I can conclude for the withholding of the records from Frankfurt. Because, we can be as sure as night follows day they did get their hands on those records within the time they say was essential.

Quote:
Well yes. The printout is too convenient by half, and Bogomira is too convenient by half.

Even if tray B8849 is an interpolation, the very fact of her having preserved a copy so that they could use her as the excuse for producing such a tiny snapshot of the records alone, is mind-boggling.

Not quite so mind-boggling as tray B8849 appearing right smack in the middle of that coding window though. The investigation team would have given a major body part for that piece of evidence. For it to appear as a mistake gives me a bad dose of incredulity indeed.

I've grokked Gauci - he did sell those clothes, unlikely as it may seem, the alternatives are even more unlikely. So then, I consider, is this rampant suicidal carelessness, or might it be a deliberate misdirection away from Heathrow?

I've grokked the MST-13 and the SF-16. Can't prove they're fabricated, and they need not have been, but there is sure as hell a big suspicion they were.

I've grokked the Bedford suitcase. It goes bang.

I still haven't grokked that printout. It doesn't prove a damn thing and should never have been allowed to, but it's way too convenient to live.

I think it's about the fine but absolutely crucial difference between Megrahi's conviction being a complete travesty, which is 100% certain, and being 100% sure he didn't do it. Until we can understand what was going on with the printout, I can only be theoretically confident nothing went on at Luqa, when I want to be emotionally confident.

Rolfe.

Given everything that we've discussed and uncovered, I'm as satisfied as I think I'm going to be about the fragment, the manual and B8849. I'm not at all satisfied with the clothes purchase, and I really need to devote much more time to look at these circumstances in far greater detail. Not satisfied that the clothes, as presented at Zeist, were either as first discovered in the hills around Lockerbie, and if indeed they were the same clothes purchased from Gauci at all. However, given the relatively scant concentration I've applied yet, I'm struggling to present a cohesive narrative.
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Old 19th July 2010, 04:47 AM   #394
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Well, I'm not 100% sure what to think either, but confident that Megrahi didn't buy the clothes, and KM180 didn't carry an unaccompanied bag, then it's extremely hard not to fall on the side of Bogomire's printout being manipulated to infer the, albeit tenuous, possibilty of this bag being inserted by someone at Luqa. However, perhaps unreasonably, I'd like to be more than the 99% sure that this printout was rigged.

It's difficult. Weird coincidences do happen. Did you see the bit in Crawford's book where he mentioned Tony being a pigeon fancier, and it turned out he himself had once nicked a pigeon fancier in East Lothian who had subsequently gone to live in Malta with some stellar birds (avian variety) and Gauci knew him? Crawford had also been stationed at Luqa during his national service, when it was an RAF base.

This case is way too full of weird coincidences for my liking, but I rather expect to be left with one or two even after we've dissected out the ones that aren't coincidences at all.

It's certainly possible the BKA got hold of all the records with the intention of sitting on them in perpetuity, but then realised it was politic to release just one tiny snapshot. How to explain that we have just a single record, and nothing else? Hey, what about that nosey IT woman who held on to a printout of the flight loading data? That'll do it! It's a coincidence for sure, very convenient, but maybe if Bogomira hadn't existed, they'd have found some other way to do it.

It then becomes a question of, is the printout genuine, or was tray B8849 added later, on the assumption (or perhaps knowledge) that Bogomira hadn't kept a copy for herself? Maybe there was a third mis-coded or unaccompanied bag, and the data were simply changed slightly to show station 206 at 13.07.

How bent do we think these cops are? How hard might the CIA have been leaning on them? And when did this happen?

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
I'm simply pointing out that even with the Erac printout finally in the possession of the investigators, they themselves were wholly unconvinced by B8849 conflicting assertion given the incontestable evidence supllied by Air Malta.

It's a reasonable and indeed obvious conclusion. The question is, why did they change their minds?

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Well indeed, I really think the silence from Washington and Downing street over the whole matter of the apparent BKA and Frankfurt authroities ineptitude, or obstruction, in procuring evidence from Germany, is notable.

Which again is more consistent with US pressure, than with care for German sensibilities. They started off just covering up like mad, in particular by swiping the Frankfurt baggage records. This was not to be criticised. Then by March the cops had got altogether too much figured out about the Neuss group nevertheless, so the word was out to back off on that.

Cannistraro is involved, so allowing him to turn this into one more thing to beat up on Libya about, has its attractions. So, the MST-13 and the SF-16 start to materialise in the evidence. Still doesn't implicate either Malta or Megrahi though.

The clothes came from Malta, and Megrahi was there at just the right moment to have interfered with a connecting flight to Frankfurt. These are the two incontrovertible facts which provided the central coincidence the rest of it was hung on. I would really, really like to know how this was done.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
And this point, along with the evidence the SCCRC had uncovered, only served to bolster the chances of Megrahi conviction being quashed on appeal. An appeal which was due to restart about 4 weeks after his release.

Three months, actually. Very neat when you come to think about it. Tell the man three months before his appeal is due to come back to court that he actually only has three months to live. If they'd waited until very close to the appeal hearing date, he might have been less amenable to giving it up, especially if he hadn't deteriorated significantly. So they really couldn't afford to wait much later than August to twist his arm.

If this had just been about oil, and the prognosis was really that he might have a year or more, they could have waited a bit. Letting him go too soon might be a convenience at the time, but would only lead to trouble down the road - trouble now apparent in abundance. There was almost an unholy rush to get him on that plane (in time for Ramadan) last August, and there are only two sensible explanations. Either the prognosis of three months was credible, and Kenny was scared to delay in case he popped his clogs while still in a Scottish jail - which would have done no good at all for Middle East relations. Or the prognosis was really for longer, but Kenny was ready to jump at the chance to have the appeal withdrawn.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
I suppose, I'm trying to make the case for allowing the legitimacy in some way for the Erac prinout. I want to believe that, on the whole, people tell the truth. Even more so, when it come to matters of such grave importance. But, in this particular scenario, it has become incresingly difficult.

My feelings exactly. I think closer study of the relevant timeline from the incident through to 17th August will help decide.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
They were all forming their stories, and attempting to weave together alot of information, filtering the contradictory, completely off-track, and the genuine follow ups. I think had they been aware of the suppression for 10 years of the Heathrow break-in, this would have gave them further pause for thought. Perhaps revising the theory that the bag-switch was as sure as it may have seemed to them initially. Latterly Foot did seem to dismiss the drug-swap theory in favour of the Heathrow introduction using a barometric timer. He was fairly critical of Coleman and Goddards final conclusion, but accepted much of what they claimed of still of great importance.

The weird thing is that all the cover-up seems to swirl around Frankfurt, more than Heathrow. Or maybe it's just that at Heathrow nobody has really noticed the cover-up? I mean, in relation to the exact provenance of all the luggage interlined into Heathrow for that flight, which should have been in AVE4041 before PA103A landed. There's a lot of evidence there that we should have but don't. It's just that we don't seem to have any record of anyone asking for it!

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
And we have the the US version carrying out the forensic work in Washington. This isn't by chance.

I notice Dalyell mentions that in his speech, although he doesn't mention any RARDE shenanigans. His main thrust is that this is so international that the Met should take over. I'm not clear what good that would have done, really.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
It's the only plausible reasoning I can conclude for the withholding of the records from Frankfurt. Because, we can be as sure as night follows day they did get their hands on those records within the time they say was essential.

By plausible reason, you mean the drug swap thing, or the Neuss group? Or both? Certainly that's all we know about, but there may have been more. The drugs-for-hostages theory might take it to a higher level, and that may be why Francovich, Coleman and Shaughnessy were sat upon - I think they were the only people to mention that part.

Then of course Francovich in particular connected that to McKee's presence on the plane. Although McKee interlined into Heathrow. So his case should have been in AVE4041. Hmmmm.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
Given everything that we've discussed and uncovered, I'm as satisfied as I think I'm going to be about the fragment, the manual and B8849.

I think we've done the timer fragment and the SF-16 manual to death, right enough. I think we still have a lot to do on B8849.

Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
I'm not at all satisfied with the clothes purchase, and I really need to devote much more time to look at these circumstances in far greater detail. Not satisfied that the clothes, as presented at Zeist, were either as first discovered in the hills around Lockerbie, and if indeed they were the same clothes purchased from Gauci at all. However, given the relatively scant concentration I've applied yet, I'm struggling to present a cohesive narrative.

The place for that is of course in the mystery shopper thread. However, I've grokked these clothes much better than previously. Surprisingly, I can't think of any other plausible explanation than that they were purchased from Gauci as described. I'd welcome any other thoughts on the matter though. See you in the other thread. (My conclusion is that a conspicuous purchase of identifiable clothes made hundreds of miles from the actual scene of the crime, and destined to be a dead end because the purchaser was never going to be identified, might have been a nice little red herring. Which worked beyond someone's wildest dreams.)

Rolfe.
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Old 19th July 2010, 08:24 AM   #395
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Just a quick aside on the Frankfurt baggage system. Of course it's all done by bar codes now, and by reading the bar code anyone can find out the exact itinerary of the luggage, and the owner. And they still lose a shed-load of stuff, every bloody day.

But back then, Frankfurt was unusual and progressive in having a computerised system. It was self-contained and only recorded information entered at Frankfurt itself. The coders were there to make sure the luggage went to the right flight, and less concerned with where it had come from. They were not required to make a positive entry for the flight of origin of the items they were coding. I'm not quite sure why - possibly it was perceived it would slow the coders down too much, but if they were coding one flight at a time then a single button-press to confirm they were still on that flight would surely have sufficed for most items.

Anyway, it wasn't done that way. Instead the coders made a handwritten record of what they were coding at any given time, including the flight number. The identity of the coding station and the time were entered into the system, and if a case had to be tracked then that handwritten worksheet would be used to identify the item in the system. This was why the records were kept for a week, so that lost baggage could be traced.

We're told that this was the standard way of tracking luggage, and it worked OK. What they don't tell us is how often it fell down. How often did it prove to be impossible to find the relevant bag, and how often did the staff have to check the previous or subsequent flight to the time actually recorded. It would be interesting.

It was admitted in court by Koscha that coders made mistakes, and forgot to write things down then went back later and did it. I simply don't believe that the forgetters always went back. In a system like that there is inevitably a certain incidence of mistakes which is irreducible. You just have to hope that the bag you're looking for wasn't the subject of such a mistake too often.

Might have been quite interesting to have asked a few questions along those lines....

Rolfe.
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Old 19th July 2010, 04:13 PM   #396
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About the timeline I was talking about. The more we can find out the better about how this progressed, in particular when anything relating to this was followed up. We already have a start.

Wednesday 21st December, the day of the incident. Nothing apparently being said at Frankfurt by about 9.30 local time. By 10pm local time the news services are broadcasting information about the crash, including that the flight concerned originated in Frankfurt (which wasn't strictly correct).

Thursday 22nd December. Much conversation about the incident, but no reports of any investigation in the baggage control centre. At about 7.30pm Bogomira decides to make a printout of the loading records for the flight apparently out of a morbid curiosity, but the only anomaly she notes is the relatively small number of bags, later explained by the flight having been merely a feeder with relatively few transatlantic passengers. She also seems to have known there was no baggage left at the gate I think, though I'm not sure how (check this?).

Friday 23rd December. News reports link the incident to the Helsinki warning, of an attack on a flight from Frankfurt to New York, and include Frankfurt airport in the accounts of the investigation as a matter of course.

Not much published from Christmas Eve until 28th/29th December because few newpapers publish over the Christmas weekend and holiday.

Wednesday 28th December, probably date of automatic write-over of computer baggage data.

Thursday 29th December. Confirmation is published that the disaster was caused by a bomb. A pock-marked suitcase and a damage luggage container are said to be the reason. The possibility that a bomb was transferred from the Frankfurt flight is first articulated.

President Regan uses the disaster to extend sanctions against Libya, and threaten military action against Libya, even though there's no evidence Libya had anything to do with it.

Friday 30th December. Frankfurt airport says they have virtually ruled out the possibility of any lapses occurring there. British police said to have travelled to West Germany. (Another report says Saturday 31st.)

Sunday 1st January. First Insight article mentions Frankfurt's sophisticated computerised baggage system, but makes no reference to missing records. It also reports, "Pan Am officials in Frankfurt are adamant that 'security was 100% reliable'; Heathrow asserts that the bomb could not have slipped through its security net." before going on to question security at both airports, especially Heathrow.

Monday 2nd January. The Guardian reports, "In America, a chemical plant at Rabta, 40 miles from Tripoli, has emerged as a prime candidate for an American strike if a Libyan connection is discovered." [Bloody hell.]

Monday 23rd January. Michael Jones finds the loading records of PA103A mising when he visits Frankfurt airport.

25th January or just before, Bogomira Erac gives her printout to her supervisor Berg.

2nd February. Date of "two internal reports describing the inquiries that BKA officers had made about the baggage-handling system at Frankfurt airport" according to Coleman.

Many of the sources state that Berg didn't give Bogomira's souvenir to the BKA until February.

February. Wilfrid Borg reports he was asked by the BKA to provide details of any flight leaving Malta for Frankfurt on 21st December.

March. Date of Brown and Graham's visit to Malta with the Babygro, according to Coleman.

Mid to late August. Crawford and others travel to Kent to inspect the blast-damaged clothing, apparently the first close inspection of any of it apart from the babygro.

17th August. BKA finally tell the Scottish cops they have the Erac printout and some other stuff.

End of August. Bell and Armstrong visit Malta, this time to trace the manufacturer of the Yorkie trousers.

1st September. Acting on information given by the Yorkie clothing company, they and Godfrey Scicluna fetch up at Mary's House and Gauci turns out to be the Memory Man.

Maybe people can add to this. I don't know if the BKA reports dated 2nd February were produced as a result of acquiring the printout or not. If the BKA were playing games, of course such reports can be post-dated. However, there is the contact with Borg, which was February according to his evidence. I don't know if this was routine as a follow-up of all airports with flights arriving at Frankfurt that morning, or if they knew about the babygro and thought they would check (can we find out when the "Made in Malta" label from the babygro was first identified? - would the Scottish cops have passed that on to the BKA under the circumstances?), or whether it was because they had analysed Bogomira's printout and spotted B8849 as a suspicious item. (If they had analysed the printout, and didn't know about the babygro, did they follow up the other two unaccompanied bags as well?)

Borg's evidence does somewhat suggest that the BKA were thinking about Malta for some very specific reason in February. I can think of only two reasons. Either they'd analysed that printout and seen the connection, or the CIA had pointed them in that direction because they'd already spotted Megrahi right there as a likely suspect/scapegoat.

I wonder if we can find out the dates Candar and Koca were first interviewed? And I would kill to discover when the CIA first discovered "Abdusamad".

Rolfe.
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Old 19th July 2010, 05:20 PM   #397
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I'll try to explain what I'm thinking. It's back to the Maltese Cross - the four separate connections to Malta in this story.
  • clothes bought from Mary's House
  • Megrahi at Luqa that morning as KM180 was leaving
  • the Erac printout showing a connection between KM180 and PA103
  • Abu Talb's autumn collection
I'll leave Abu Talb out of it for now, because having realised that the clothes were really bought from Gauci, and probably not by Talb, it's beginning to look as if he's a red herring all along. (Another spooky coincidence? I'm seeing reports he was really part of a different outfit and that he was never definitely linked to the PFLP-GC.)

Accepting (with poor grace) that the clothes purchase is as described, we have our first significant coincidence. Tray B8849 is the second, and it's straining my credulity. So how could it not be a coincidence?

You know what would be a really neat wrap-up here? Suppose, after the bombing, the CIA had a good look round, and consulted Giaka, and found out about Abdusamad rather quickly. Just the ticket! So they went to Mary's House and got the traceable Maltese clothes, and coached Gauci to say he sold them to Megrahi on 7th December, and turned them into evidence which they fed to Crawford and his mates in August. (Releasing the babygro early for verisimiltude.) It would at least explain the strange delay in looking at the blast-damaged items, when searchers were originally asked to flag up such items for early examination.

And they prepared a printout of the loading of PA103A, subtly altered to show a bag that was consistent with KM180. Or maybe they altered a printout that had been preserved by Bogomira, that might have been for real, and was used in preference to a less plausible rationale for disclosing the selected dataset.

And they fabricated the MST-13 fragment (which took time, hence the retrospective provenance which was screwed up), and the SF-16 manual cover, as discussed elsewhere.

This is simply incredibly elegant. And it falls flat on its face, because the idea that the entire Gauci family performance was staged is really preposterous.

So did the identification of the Maltese clothes, or the knowledge of Megrahi's presence that day, lead to B8849 appearing? Or was it the third spooky coincidence?

Rolfe.
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Old 20th July 2010, 04:10 PM   #398
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Illustrating not simply the drip-drip of information being supplied from Frankfurt and the BKA, but the almost disparaging manner with which the dealt the Scots bobbies.

Some more from that Leppard article of Dec17 '89.

Originally Posted by The Sunday Times
It was not until February this year that a report on operation Autumn Leaves was finally given to the Scottish police. It contained a detailed description of the bombs, the bomb-makers and the terrorist cell. But buried in its pages was a fact which was to prove more significant still to the investigators. The German police, during their surveillance of Dalkamoni, had noted a white Volvo with a Swedish numberplate outside his flat.

The driver, who was arrested, later confessed to running an illegal aliens racket. His name was Mohammed Al-Moghrabi. His sister, Jamila, came from a family of Palestinian terrorists ..and she was married to a Palestinian terrorist living in Sweden, Muhamed Abu Talb.

THE British police's anger at German unhelpfulness turned into a fury on August 16 with the unannounced arrival at the Lockerbie incident control centre of a parcel from the BKA headquarters in Meckenheim.

It contained a computerised baggage loading list of all passenger bags put aboard PanAm 103A, the first leg of the flight at Frankfurt.
The Scottish police had asked for this information in January only to be told first that it was not available and then that it had been destroyed. Eight months later they had the information that married up with the mystery Babygro and the check trousers.

In any investigation of this nature 'unaccompanied' baggage is of prime importance. The list showed that a bag had been transferred on to the American jet from Air Malta flight KM180 which had left Valletta at 8.50am on the day of the disaster. Yet none of the 39 passengers on the Malta flight had transferred with it. Attached to the list was a BKA report dated February 12.

'We were absolutely staggered, ' one British security source said. 'The list was obviously a crucial piece of evidence. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money have been spent sending officers all over the world carrying out needless inquiries when all the time the Germans knew we should be looking at Malta.'

Not available in January, and then announced the records had been destroyed!? Only then, 8 months later, the BKA send tis crucial bit of information by courier to arrive at the Lockerbie Incident Center. What the hell is going on?
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Old 20th July 2010, 05:13 PM   #399
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Beats me.

This is clearly the crucial piece of evidence. Everybody is getting very aerated about the timer fragment and I can see why, but in a way it's peripheral. It was never linked to any particular suspect. This is different. It's a finger pointing straight at Abdusamad.

But it isn't, not just because of the Malta records, but because of the sheer insanity of setting a bomb off on that route, timed to go off at 7pm regardless. It would have had a sporting chance of getting lost. Even if it didn't, Maier should have caught it on the x-ray, given that he'd been told about Toshiba radio-cassettes. Even if it got through, it had at least a 50% chance of being too far from the skin of the plane to do any damage. And there was a decent chance Maid of the Seas would still have been on the tarmac at 7pm, through fog or congestion or some idiot missing his flight with his suitcase already on board.

So we're back to
  • insanely stupid plan that just happened to be magically effective, especially at getting through Luqa
  • random lost bag coded for PA103A at 13.07 and Koca forgot to make a separate note of its flight of origin
  • the Disneyworld trip
  • the BKA added that line
The second is obviously more likely than the first, but it's unsatisfactory in the sheer brilliance and perfection of the coincidence. And given the behaviour of the BKA, well, you're thinking what I'm thinking.

Rolfe.

ETA: And this time his account agrees with Crawford, so they tend to provide corroborration for each other.
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Old 20th July 2010, 05:34 PM   #400
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Beats me.

This is clearly the crucial piece of evidence. Everybody is getting very aerated about the timer fragment and I can see why, but in a way it's peripheral. It was never linked to any particular suspect. This is different. It's a finger pointing straight at Abdusamad.

But it isn't, not just because of the Malta records, but because of the sheer insanity of setting a bomb off on that route, timed to go off at 7pm regardless. It would have had a sporting chance of getting lost. Even if it didn't, Maier should have caught it on the x-ray, given that he'd been told about Toshiba radio-cassettes. Even if it got through, it had at least a 50% chance of being too far from the skin of the plane to do any damage. And there was a decent chance Maid of the Seas would still have been on the tarmac at 7pm, through fog or congestion or some idiot missing his flight with his suitcase already on board.

So we're back to
  • insanely stupid plan that just happened to be magically effective, especially at getting through Luqa
  • random lost bag coded for PA103A at 13.07 and Koca forgot to make a separate note of its flight of origin
  • the Disneyworld trip
  • the BKA added that line
The second is obviously more likely than the first, but it's unsatisfactory in the sheer brilliance and perfection of the coincidence. And given the behaviour of the BKA, well, you're thinking what I'm thinking.

Rolfe.

ETA: And this time his account agrees with Crawford, so they tend to provide corroborration for each other.
Yes, I'm torn between 2 and 4. However, the claim that no one at Frankfurt thought about the records for 103A, the behaviour of the BKA and their apparent reluctance to divulge much of their information, combined with a pretty extraordinary story about a fortuitous programmer retaining her own souvenir printout, and then the BKA suppressing it for 8 months, certainly lends alot of weight to the latter.

All the while the D&G bump their gums and the silence from Washington and London is uninterrupted.
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