Information on Secret Syrian Document Emerges at Lockerbie

Published November 21st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Information on a secret Syrian document that has shaken up the Lockerbie trial in recent weeks began to emerge Tuesday, and was apparently written by a man connected to a Palestinian organization, a defense lawyer said. 

Mobdi Gohan, who was "intimately associated" with the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), wrote the document, defense lawyer William Taylor said. 

A copy of the memorandum -- which could have considerable impact on the trial -- was in the possession of the Syrian government or "one of its agencies," Taylor said. 

Taylor is defending Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, one of two Libyan intelligence agents accused of being behind the bombing of the Pan Am Boeing 747 went down over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, killing 259 persons aboard and 11 on the ground. 

The 'Goban memorandum' consisted of "36 pages of a closely knit document written by a man who was intimately involved in the working of PFLP-GC," Taylor said. 

It could bolster the defense's argument that the two radical Palestinian organizations were behind the bombing, and not the two Libyans currently on trial. 

Goban -- alias "the Professor" -- was a member of PFLP-CG, Taylor said. The organization was blamed for a series of attacks around the world during the 1970s and 80s, notably the killing of several British citizens in retaliation for the US bombing of Tripoli in 1986. 

It -- along with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), another Palestinian splinter group -- was fingered by the defense from the beginning of the Lockerbie trial in May for being behind the bombing of the Pan Am airliner. 

In Camp Zeist on November 8, presiding judge Lord Sutherland announced that a "letter of request" was being dispatched seeking missing pages in the unspecified Syrian document. 

The request was received last Thursday in Damascus, Taylor said, who asked the court to give Syria "reasonable time" to respond before asking the defense to call witnesses and present its case. 

The court adjourned on Monday until November 28, when the defense ended its seven-month long presentation. 

Richard Keen, a lawyer for one of the two Libyan suspects, said he would then depose a "submission of no case," because there was no proof his client was guilty. 

If the judges accept his submission, Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah would be effectively acquitted and released. His co-defendant, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, would remain in jail awaiting a verdict. 

The court would then adjourn again for another week to give the Syrians time to respond to its request. 

According to legal sources, the trial could finish in early January after breaking for Christmas -- CAMP ZEIST, Netherlands (AFP) 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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