US Witness Stymied by Scottish Legal Rules at Lockerbie Trial
Former US presidential aide Pierre Salinger was frustrated by Scottish court procedure on Monday as he gave evidence in the trial of two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing.
Salinger, John Kennedy's former press spokesman, was quizzed by lawyers on an interview he had carried out with the two principal suspects, Libyan intelligence agents Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah.
After his cross-examination, Salinger was clearly flustered that he had not been able to clearly express his version of the events.
At the end of questioning he blurted out that the two Libyans had no part in the bombing and that he had not been able to express "the truth".
"I am here to tell the whole truth about who did it (...) I know the Libyans had nothing to do with it. I know exactly who did it. I know why they did it," he said.
Presiding Judge Lord Sutherland chided Salinger, reminding him that Scottish justice had rules and that he could express his "truth" where he wanted to but not in his court.
Scottish law stipulates that a witness must base replies to barristers' questions on what he or she has directly seen or heard, and not what had been simply overheard or reported by a second party.
The judge and lawyers considered Salinger's statements fell into the second category.
Pan Am flight 103, bound from London to New York, blew up over the small Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21 1988, killing 259 persons aboard, mostly Americans, and 11 on the ground.
In the interview conducted by Salinger for the American television station ABC on November 26 and 27, 1991, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, 48, claimed that on the day of the attack he was in the Libyan capital Tripoli with his family.
He said he had nothing to do either with the attack or the Libyan secret services (ESO).
The prosecution has presented al-Megrahi as a high-ranking ESO officer.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges -- CAMP ZEIST (AFP)
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