[Pan Am 103 Series]
Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
October 21 2009
last edited 10/22
Recently attention has come back onto the MST-13 timer fragment, upon which the Lockerbie investigation solidified its case against Libya, with statements the other day by Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) Christine Grahame. Following suspicions raised by Gideon Levy’s 2009 film Lockerbie Revisited, people are asking like never before was this key evidence, pulled from a shirt collar months after the attack and designated PT/35(b), taken outside of Scotland? Outside Great Britain? Outside Europe and across the Atlantic? As the BBC reported:
Ms Grahame said: "The Crown Office have confirmed to me that the fragment, PT-35, the piece of evidence that it was claimed linked Libya to the attack, was also sent to Germany in April 1990, as well as the US. [...] If there was any suspicion that the fragment had been tampered with, it could have undermined the entire prosecution case.
Clearly this is big news that people will Google, and find things like this, posted last year by Edwin Bollier, co-founder of Mebo, the timer’s makers:
Inspector Keith Harrower (Scottish Police) visited on the 27th of April 1990, this the MST-13 fragment the electronic company Siemens AG in Munich, Germany. Engineer Brosante sawed this first brown original MST-13 fragment into two parts and confirmed: "standard brown PC-platine with 8 layers of fiberglass." The green machine made MST-13 timers delivered to Libya consisted of PC-boards with 9 layers of fiberglass.
So when these “new” questions start leading right to Mr. Bollier’s claims of tampering and worse, some clearing of the waters might be useful. I turn my attention to false or dubious claims, pushed by Bollier and a handful of others, about the fragment being planted or swapped-out with a clearly different fragment, during the process of investigation.
His claims on the board being different colors at different times are too convoluted to fully explore here, but Bollier has been swearing lately that a brown prototype handed to Swiss authorities had been used as the evidence, somehow clearly visible in the first known photograph from 1989 (left), while the later photo (mid-1990, right) of an altered PT35(b) are of a replacement green board.
The MTS-13’s designer, Ulrich Lumpert, apparently spawned this with his 2007 affidavit, by which he handed the brown board over to Swiss investigators who in turn gave it to SCOTBOM, who used as evidence. Engineer Brosante also agrees it was brown, judging by Bollier’s quote (that’s the first I’ve heard of him, so don’t ask me). The official story is of course that it’s always been the same green fragment they found in the wreckage of 103.
It is true that green here seems to mean blue, and the later photo is more blue than the first. However, this (as I found it online) shows clear signs of global photo-tinting and once corrected, the color matches up quite well with the original – dark muted blue-gray, like a green/blue board that had been burnt. It does seem possible some of the carbonized surface material has been cleaned off in the latter view, but otherwise there is no hint of brown I can see in either of these photos, and no color-based sign of meaningful alteration or replacement.
Considering comparison photos of PT/35(b) alongside an intact model board (links above), There are allegations of the curved edge not matching or the “1” touchpad and its relation to the “true edge” differing. But when the outlines are superimposed to scale (right), we find a perfect fit presuming the fragment is missing a sliver off the top. And here we can see a difference with the first photos and later ones – the top is present at first, giving it the right curve of an intact board. Later, it’s gone. Two prominent cuts at right angles also appear, apparently part of forensic examination carried out so controversially in Munich, to check the board’s layering style. This apparently severed a corner piece, put back in place and displayed as separate evidence item DP/31. But the removed top is not so displayed. It’s reasonable to surmise this tiny section – app. 1cm by 1/8cm – was simply ground off to get a profile, but mysteries remain... It's not clear how many layers were really found, but as it appears a green machine-made board, I'm guessing nine.
Among Mebo the clown’s most enthusiastic claims of proven forgery is how “the letter "M" was carved into” the original “brown” item sideways next to the touch pad, while “in the duplicate no. PT/35(b) (fake) it can be clearly seen that no letter “M” was carved into it!” Lumpert mentioned but disowned this in his affidavit: “I had nothing to do with the letter "M" (possibly an abbreviation of Muster 'sample'), which appears." To true scale (at left), this tiny M seems strangely small to use as a marking, nestled in next to the “1.” In reality, as JREF forum member Ambrosia showed with the enhancement below, the M casts a faint but visible shadow, and would seem to be a 3d object, a tiny ziggy fiber of presumably shirt stitching.
Beneath this alleged etching are three small light patches bracketing the solder lines, visible above. Of these Lumpert said “I clearly recognize the scratched remnants of the soldering tracts on this enlarged digital police photograph.” A poster available online shows a blowup with German text, perhaps based on something, labeling these as “Kratzstellen von Ing Lumpert,” scratches by Lumpert. That any villains would have chosen to cut out and display as evidence just the small corner that Lumpert had marked with random micro-abrasions and could identify raises some questions.
What exactly these really are is a minor mystery – perhaps more fibers of a different kind snagged on the solder. Whatever they are they’re as gone later as the M – either the political engineers sanded these off or painted them over, or replaced the board down to he tiniest details except for these scratches, as alleged by recent Mebo pages, or they were some inconsequential surface debris since removed.
And for a preview of what lies at the bottom of this rabbit hole, realize Bollier's claiming a green replacement for a brown original fake of an alleged green Libyan timer; A 'technical report' commissioned on actual graph paper suggests for no reason I can fathom the final PT/35(b) photo is of the green replacement except the corner DP/31, which is actually a matching corner from the original Lumpert-supplied brown fake! And they didn't even use the corner with the irreplaceable "M!" (lower right corner of right view below - the part that's the same blue/green as the rest).
So to summarize, as the graphic above pretty well does, the verifiable changes were the removal of surface debris, perhaps removal of some of the charred layer, loss of a small bit of solder, an apparent flake of damaged plastic (tan under-layer?), minor changes to the touch pad surface, and the obvious cuts and/or grinding to the board consistent with cross-section analysis. Nothing else about it changed, and there’s no evidence that anything misleading was done with this after its initial fraudulent insertion into the evidence chain.
Did everyone catch that? Don’t get distracted, then, is the main point here. There are still intelligent questions to ask.