Accident Investigators Give Evidence in Lockerbie Trial

Published May 25th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Air accident investigators are due to give evidence Thursday in the trial of two Libyans accused of bombing Pan Am Boeing 747 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people, according to AFP. 

Michael Charles, a British air accident investigator who led the inquiry into the disaster, told the trial Wednesday that a bomb punched a 20-inch-square (50-centimetre-square) hole in the fuselage of the plane's left-hand forward baggage hold. 

As the plastic explosive turned into a ball of gas, it blew a larger "petal-shaped" hole in the metal skin of the plane's left-hand forward baggage hold, he added. 

This caused cracks to spread through the plane, leading to its disintegration above the southwest Scottish town on December 21, 1988, killing all 259 passengers and crew and 11 people on the ground, he said. 

AFP reported that Richard Vance, an inspector in Charles' team from Britain's Air Accident Investigation Branch, told the court the plane's flight recorders had picked up a short, loud sound in the seconds before contact was lost with air controllers. 

Another inspector, Christopher Protheroe, is due to continue giving evidence when the trial continues Thursday. 

The prosecution alleges that Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, 48, and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44, were Libyan intelligence agents who planted a time bomb in a suitcase aboard Pan Am Flight 103. 

 

PAPER DEFENDS LOCKERBIE STORY 

 

A Scottish newspaper severely criticized at the trial of the two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing has said it is standing by its claims, according to a BBC.online report.  

The Sunday Herald reported that the prosecution case was in tatters amid concerns over evidence due to be provided by a man described as a key witness, said the BBC.  

The newspaper alleged that the "disarray" had prompted the Crown to seek a 12-day adjournment in the case.  

Scotland's Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd QC, told the court there was no truth in the allegations and statements attributed to Crown Office sources had not been made.  

But in a statement on Wednesday, the newspaper said: "The story was accurate and, we believe, in the public interest. We will print a full and robust response to the criticisms in our edition on Sunday."  

The presiding judge, Lord Sutherland, had warned that if the case had been a normal jury trial the newspaper report, on 14 May, would have been gross contempt.  

Boyd described the article, which reported allegations that the case was about to collapse after an analysis of the explosion from witness Edwin Bollier allegedly contradicted the Crown's version of events, as "largely inaccurate and misleading".  

He said it was not for those reasons that he brought the article to the judges' attention, but because "it makes allegations about the Crown's conduct which impinge on our relationship with the court".  

Boyd said he would not comment on the report which he has received from the Crown witness, except during submissions to the court and was not prepared to comment on the assertions made in the article.  

He said no member of his team nor anyone with any knowledge of the Crown case had spoken to the Sunday Herald -- (Several Sources)  

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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