Lockerbie Witness Says Germans Once Accused him in Bombing
A prosecution witness in the Lockerbie trial on Thursday said he had once been accused by the German police as an accomplice in the 1988 Pan Am bombing that killed 270 people.
Hassan el Sahili, a Lebanese living in Germany, testified that the police, questioning him in April and May 1989, believed that one of the Lockerbie victims, Khaled Jaafar, a US citizen then 20, may have been used to unwittingly carry the bomb abroad the Pan Am jet.
The court heard that el Sahili and another Lebanese, Naim Ghannam, went to a Dortmund (then West) Germany travel agency days before the bombing and, without Jaafar's knowledge, cancelled an air ticket he had on a December 19 1988 flight from Dusseldorf, Germany, to Detroit, Michigan, where his father lived.
In its place, they booked him on the December 21 ill-fated flight from Frankfurt to London, that was to have gone on to New York but which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, the court heard from testimony given to the German police by el Sahili in 1989.
"They (the German police) accused us of exploding the bomb. I was a suspect at the time," said el Sahili.
Under cross-examination, defense lawyer Richard Keen asked el Sahili, "You were referred to sometimes as the accused, were you not accused (by the German police) of knowing that Khaleed Jaamal had been used to take a bomb onto the Pan Am plane?"
Replied el Sahili, "No, he did nothing of the sort."
At some point el Sahili, who has lived in Germany since 1988, was released as a suspect in the bombing, but there was no immediate explanation for that.
The testimony raised speculation that the Lockerbie bomb originated in Frankfurt and not in Malta as was earlier suggested.
El Sahili earlier testified that Jaafar arrived in Dortmund on November 8 1988 and stayed at his apartment until shortly before the bombing, never leaving without the company of el Sahili, Ghannam, or other Lebanese staying in the apartment.
Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, 48, and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44, Libyan intelligence agents, have been on trial since May on charges of bombing the Pan Am jetliner over Scotland and the deaths of 270 people, most of them Americans.
The US government has offered a four-million-dollar reward for information leading to a conviction.
The trial is being held under Scottish law at this former US military base, declared by the Dutch government as Scottish territory for the duration, under a complex multi-country arrangement, which persuaded Libyan leader Moammer Kadhafi to turn over the suspects -- CAMP ZEIST, Netherlands (AFP)
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