[Pan Am 103 Series]
Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
January 23 2010
Among other points raised in a letter re-posted by Victims of Pan Am 103 Inc., Richard Marquise mused: “It was strange that of all the people in the world, Mr. Megrahi was in Malta the same day the clothing was purchased and was there the same day the bomb left on its fateful journey.” (emphasis mine)
I reminded him of the statement in the comments section at Professor Back’s blog, and posed the following five questions to him. Apparently he never caught them, as he never offered an answer.
1) Is it not strange that of all the days in the subset November 23 and December 7 you and the investigation had to pick the latter as the best fit for the purchase, even though that choice requires badly misreading the actual evidence?
2) What did the SCCRC find about the Christmas light going up?
3) What do local weather records say for rainfall on Dec 7 vs. Nov 23?
4) What do football schedules (Rome-Dresden) say about Paul’s absence at 6:50 pm? What does Paul say?
5) Why doesn’t November 23 work again, aside from Megrahi not being there?
For those who don't know, the clothes thought to have been packed around the bomb that took down PA 103, were traced to a shop in Malta and shopkeeper Tony Gauci, who eventually took $2 million to recall the purchase for investigators. He famously decided the accused al Megrahi resembled the purchaser a bit, and supposedly gave a date that made it at least possible for the accused to have made the buy.
The date was of key importance, and the absence of Gauci's brother, Paul, at the time of the purchase was a key to narrowing that down. Paul was at home in the evening to watch a football game, which was narrowed down to one of two Rome-Dresden matches, on November 23 or December 7 1988. For the earlier date, the accused purchaser, al Megrahi, has a solid alibi of being not on the island. For the latter date, he was present, and the prosecution decided the purchase occurred on December 7. Many have suspected it was Megrahi's presence, and not the clues provided by the Gaucis, that caused them to chose the date. This would seem a hard point to prove, but not at all difficult to indicate. (The following points will be more fully explained and sourced elsewhere - this is just a summary.)
The purchaser Tony remembered came at around ten 'til 7 pm, as Paul was watching his game at home. The December 7 game was aired app. 1-3pm local, while November 23's was aired app. 7-9 pm local. The math is clear. Tony recalled specifically the Christmas lights in his neighborhood were not yet up. As the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission (SCCRC) found years later through new evidence, those lights went up on December 6, meaning his memory if on December 7 would have been recalling they were up, had just gone up. On the 23rd, the neighborhood was still dark and cheerless, as he first recalled the evening. He recalled the purchaser bought an umbrella to deal with the rain outside. Weather records show appreciable but light rainfall in Silema the evening of November 23, but December 7 shows up dry as a bone for that time frame and all day, Island-wide.
Is that confusing, unclear, or ambiguous? The investigators were later clear that December 7 was the obvious choice and the true one, but seem to have been confused, admitting it when pressed. Detective Inspector Harry Bell, who headed the Scottish police effort on Malta and was the main contact point for the Gaucis, was interviewed in 2006 by the SCCRC. Some extracts were re-printed in Megrahi's rock-solid grounds of appeal. Excerpts from there:
DI Bell SCCRC interview (25-26/7/06)
"...The evidence of the football matches was confusing and in the end we did not manage to bottom it out..."
"...I am asked whether at the time I felt that the evidence of the football matches was strongly indicative of 7th December 1988 as the purchase date. No, I did not. Both dates 23rd Nov & 7th Dec 1988 looked likely.
"...It really has to be acknowledged how confusing this all was. No date was signficant for me at the time. Ultimately it was the applicant's [Megrahi’s] presence on the island on 7th December 1988 that persuaded me that the purchase took place on that date. Paul specified 7th December when I met with him on 14th December 1989 and I recorded this..." [Source: Grounds of Appeal]
The bolded is a shocking admission of just what many had guessed. And then, almost as an afterthought (and a quick one I'd venture) "Paul specified 7th December" as the right day, during a meeting of "14th December 1989." He even has the date memorized! No direct quotes provided there of this meeting. But two months earlier, in a 19 October meeting with the same Harry Bell, he clearly specified the other day. In a police report obtained by Private Eye and published in Paul Foot's 2000 booklet Lockerbie, the Flight from Justice, Mr. Gauci said:
“I was shown a list of European football matches I know as UEFA. I checked all the games and dates. I am of the opinion that the game I watched on TV was on 23 November, 1988: SC Dynamo Dresden v AS Roma. On checking the 7th December 1988, I can say that I watched AS Roma v Dynamo Dresden in the afternoon. All the other games were played in the evening. I can say for certain I watched the Dresden v Roma game. On the basis that there were two games played during the afternoon of 23 November and only one on the afternoon of 7th December, I would say that the 23rd November 1988 was the date in question.” [Foot, 2000, p 21]
If indeed the man was specifying the desired date two months later, that's a second admission from Bell. By December 1989 at the latest, they were trying to implicate al Megrahi, and had been trying to long enough that Paul Gauci had taken the hint.
This makes it clear why, despite his specific and useful memory, Paul was not called to give evidence at trial, and reports like this from 19 October were likewise not produced. He did however manage to secure a $1 million payment himself, probably informal sharing rights on his brothers two mil, and the same DoJ witness relocation/protection/silencing program as his brother. Three million will buy a lot of shrimp for the barbie, and it already bought the Americans one of four planks they needed to get their political fantasy to become legal reality.