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Lockerbie appeal: New evidence

Al-Megrahi's appeal is expected to last five weeks
Al-Megrahi's appeal is expected to last five weeks  

CAMP ZEIST, Netherlands -- Two security guards have given evidence at the Lockerbie appeals court that defence lawyers say casts doubt on the conviction of a Libyan for the downing of a Pan Am airliner.

Raymond Manly, a retired security guard at Heathrow Airport in London, was summoned on Wednesday to testify that he had discovered a break-in about 18 hours before the New York-bound Flight 103 took off.

His supervisor, Philip Radley, confirmed Manly had reported the incident to him and that the police were informed.

A bomb, which police said was concealed in a cassette-recorder inside a brown suitcase, destroyed the Boeing 747 on December 21, 1988, over the Scottish town of Lockerbie killing all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground.

In-Depth: Lockerbie appeal 

Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, 49, a Libyan intelligence office, wasconvicted in January 2001 of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with no option of parole for 20 years. Libyan co-defendant Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima was acquitted.

Al-Megrahi later launched an appeal which is being heard by Scottish judges sitting at a special court at Camp Zeist, a former U.S. air base in The Netherlands.

Defence lawyer William Taylor told the court last week that Manly's evidence would support defence claims that the bomb was probably loaded on the plane in London than in Malta.

Manly said the padlock on the door to the baggage area was a u-shaped piece that was secured between two doors by a one-inch-thick metal bar. He said he found the "bar out of position," leaving easy access to the restricted area.

He said it looked like a "very deliberate act" by professionals.

Wreckage from the mid-air explosion was strewn over 850 square miles  

Radley told the five judges hearing the appeal that Manly had reported the broken padlock on the door of the baggage area and he recorded the incident in his logbook.

He said just after midnight on the day of the crash Manly called him at his office and asked him to look at the broken lock himself. The police also were informed.

"The top arm was broken," he said. Asked to be more specific, he said the lock was broken in two, which would have required great force.

He said he was interviewed by the police about the break-in after the Lockerbie disaster.

The security men were never called to give evidence in the original trial, and defence lawyers say they had no knowledge of this line of evidence until after the verdict was delivered.

Five Scottish judges are hearing the appeal in the Netherlands
Five Scottish judges are hearing the appeal in the Netherlands  

Defence lawyer Taylor argued that if the trial judges had known of the break-in, it would have created "reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the appellant."

The prosecution said the circumstantial evidence on which Al-Megrahi was convicted was still valid, and asked the court to uphold his conviction. The court ruled, though, to hear the new witnesses.

The prosecution case, accepted by the trial court, rested on the evidence of a Maltese shopkeeper that Al-Megrahi bought clothes at his store that police said was used to pad the bomb inside the suitcase.

Al-Megrahi has been imprisoned in a secure unit at Camp Zeist, where the nine-month trial was held in 2000. The venue was part of a deal to persuade Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to hand over the two suspects.

"He would be taking a lot of chances of failure by having the bomb ingested in Malta and not in Heathrow," Osborne suggested.

"All sorts of things could have gone wrong with the sequence of flights."


• Judges query Pan Am bomb evidence
February 8, 2002
• Lockerbie conviction defended
February 6, 2002
• Article 'swayed Lockerbie witness'
January 28, 2002
• Lockerbie witness 'changed story'
January 25, 2002

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