Lockerbie Key Witness Struggles with Memory
A Maltese shopkeeper testified in the Lockerbie trial Tuesday that he sold a Libyan defendant the clothes found in the suitcase bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103 and killed 270 people, reported The Associated Press.
Toni Gauci, proprietor of Mary's House shop in the Mediterranean resort of Sliema, testified in the trial of two alleged Libyan intelligence officer accused of blowing up the plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, Dec. 21, 1988, said the AP.
Prosecutors say the bomb detonated 38 minutes after the plane's takeoff from London's Heathrow airport. The plane started its journey in Malta, where the defendants worked in the Libyan Arab Airlines offices.
According to the indictment, defendant Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi entered Gauci's family-run business on Dec. 7, 1988, and purchased items that were packed around the bomb inside a Samsonite suitcase.
Addressing the court in Maltese, Gauci said he remembered a Libyan man entering the boutique and concluded "it must have been about a fortnight before Christmas” because he remembered other shops were being adorned with Christmas lights.
Prosecutor Alastair Campbell asked the witness why he told police who questioned him about a year after the bombing that no festive lights were up yet.
"Eleven years are a long time for me,” said Gauci, 56. "But in those days I told them everything exactly.”
Gauci said the man had black hair, wore a blue suit and was less than 6 feet tall. He confirmed a series of mug shots and artists impressions that he had been shown by Scottish investigators during several meetings at Malta police headquarters in the fall of 1989, the report said.
The client bought a jacket, two pajamas, a baby suit, two shirts, two pullovers, two trousers and an umbrella, the store owner was quoted as telling the court.
"It wasn't important for him what he was buying,” Gauci said. "When I asked him whether he wanted to try on the trousers, he said it wasn't for him.”
Gauci is one of the strongest links in the prosecution case against al-Megrahi and co-defendant Lamen Khalifa Fhimah. They surrendered last year for trial before a Scottish court in the Netherlands, following nearly a decade of international sanctions against Libya.
The two men have pleaded innocent to charges of murder and conspiracy to murder. When the trial opened on May 3rd, defense lawyers said they would seek to incriminate Palestinian groups in the terrorist attack.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum life sentence in a Scottish prison.
Gauci testified as the trial resumed following a one-week break to give prosecutors a chance to examine recently submitted defense witness statements, said the agency – Albawaba.com
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