Lockerbie case: new accusations of manipulation of key forensic evidence

I.P.O. Information Service

On 4 August 2007 Dr. Hans Koechler received from Mr. Edwin Bollier, head of the Swiss-based company MEBO AG, a copy of the German original of an Affidavit, dated 18 July 2007 and signed by Mr. Ulrich Lumpert, former employee (electronics engineer) of MEBO AG, Zurich, related to the Lockerbie case.

In a statement released today, Dr. Hans Koechler, who has followed the Lockerbie proceedings since the beginning of the trial in the Netherlands in May 2000, highlighted basic aspects and questions of this new revelation that appear to be of relevance not only in connection with the upcoming second appeal of the convicted Libyan national, but also for new prosecutorial action ex officio by the Scottish authorities.

In his affidavit Mr. Lumpert implicitly admits having committed perjury as witness No. 550 before the Scottish Court in the Netherlands. He states (Par. 2) that he has stolen a handmade (by him) sample of an “MST-13 Timer PC-board” from MEBO company in Zurich and handed it over, on 22 June 1989 (!), to an “official person investigating the Lockerbie case.” He further states (in Par. 5) that the fragment of the MST-13 timer, cut into two pieces for “supposedly forensic reasons,” which was presented in Court as vital part of evidence, stemmed from the piece which he had stolen and handed over to an investigator in 1989. He further states that when he became aware that this piece was used for an “intentional politically motivated criminal undertaking” (vorsätzliche politisch kriminelle “Machenschaft”) he decided, out of fear for his life, to keep silent on the matter.

The rather late admission of Mr. Lumpert is consistent with an earlier revelation in the British and Scottish media according to which a former Scottish police officer (whose identity has not yet been disclosed to the public) stated “that the CIA planted the tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan” for the bombing of the Pan Am jet (Scotland on Sunday, 28 August 2005).

Upon receipt of the document, Dr. Koechler informed the owner of MEBO AG on 7 August 2007 that Mr. Lumpert will have to submit his affidavit under oath before the competent judicial authorities of Scotland. In the meantime (22 August 2007), the owner of MEBO AG has requested the Scottish judicial authorities — by way of the Swiss Prosecutor’s office and on the basis of the agreement on mutual judicial assistance between the UK and Switzerland — to investigate the alleged criminal manipulations referred to in Mr. Lumpert’s statement.

In his capacity as UN-appointed observer of the Lockerbie trial, Dr. Hans Koechler has repeatedly raised the issue of the timer fragment and expressed his amazement at the Defense team’s refusal to look into the matter during Mr. Megrahi’s appeal when questions as to the reliability of forensic evidence had already been raised. (See Dr. Koechler’s appeal report, Par. 10 [c] of 26 March 2002; his statement of 23 August 2003, Par. 10; and his statement of 14 October 2005, Par. 2.)

It is to be recalled that, as witness before the Lockerbie court, Mr. Edwin Bollier had raised the issue of the manipulation of the timer fragments, but was brusquely interrupted in his testimony by the presiding Judge and prevented from giving further information in this matter.

In the meantime (information received on 26 August 2007), Mr. Lumpert has revised part of his Affidavit (Par. 5); he now states that the letter “M” on the timer fragment (supposedly for the German word Muster: sample), unlike previously stated, has been engraved by himself. In view of this and earlier statements, Mr. Lumpert’s credibility will have to be assessed very carefully by the competent judicial authorities and he will have to be made aware of the consequences, in terms of criminal law, of lying to the Court.

At the same time, the credibility of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) is also at stake. In its News Release of 28 June 2007, in which it had announced the referral of Mr. Al-Megrahi’s case to the Scottish High Court for a second appeal, the SCCRC found it necessary to “absolve” the investigating authorities of any suspicion of wrongdoing. Should Mr. Lumpert’s confession be proven to be true, the SCCRC’s statement — “The Commission undertook extensive enquiries in this area but found nothing to support that allegation or to undermine the trial court’s conclusions in respect of the fragment” — will appear highly questionable, even dubious. The public will have to ask why a supposedly independent judicial review body would try to exonerate “preventively” officials in a case which is being returned to the High Court for a second appeal because of suspicions of a miscarriage of justice.

If it is indeed the rule of law that governs the Scottish polity, the Scottish judicial authorities will have to deal with this new revelation ex officio — independently of how the appeal court in Mr. Megrahi’s case will evaluate this witness’s confession of perjury.

Those responsible for the midair explosion of PanAm flight 103 will have to be identified and brought to justice. If there was any wrongdoing, criminal and/or due to incompetence, of the judicial authorities in the investigation and prosecution of the Lockerbie case, this will also have to be dealt with through proper procedures of criminal law. A continuation of the rather obvious cover-up which we have witnessed up until now is neither acceptable for the citizens of Scotland nor for the international public, Dr. Koechler stated.