Lockerbie: The Gaucis and compensation
A document seen by the Scottish Review Commission which reviewed the Lockerbie trial proceedings shows that star witness Tony Gauci had shown an interest in receiving money.
Mr Gauci, the owner of Mary's House clothes shop in Sliema, had picked out Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi as the person who bought clothes which were wrapped round the bomb which downed a Boeing 747 over Lockerbie.
The document was a memorandum dated February 21, 1991, titled Security of Witness Anthony Gauci, Malta, that consisted of a report sent by investigator Harry Bell to Supt Gilchrist just after Mr Gauci identified Mr Megrahi from a photo-spread six days earlier.
The memorandum was never disclosed by the prosecution during the trial.
Mr Bell discusses the possibility of Mr Gauci’s inclusion in a witness protection programme. The final paragraph, however, makes reference to a different matter: “During recent meetings with Tony he has expressed an interest in receiving money. It would appear that he is aware of the US reward monies which have been reported in the press.”
In a statement to the commission, Mr Gauci, however, denied he had ever discussed compensation with Mr Bell or the police and all he wanted was protection. He also alleged that former Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi had wanted to reward him handsomely.
But the review commission also had access to a confidential report dated June 10, 1999 by British police officers drawing up an assessment for the possible inclusion of Tony Gauci in a witness protection programme administered by Strathclyde Police.
In the report Mr Gauci is described as being “somewhat frustrated that he will not be compensated in any financial way for his contribution to the case”.
Mr Gauci is described in the report as a “humble man who leads a very simple life which is firmly built on a strong sense of honesty and decency”.
But the officers also interviewed Mr Gauci’s brother Paul, in connection with his inclusion in the programme.
The following passage in the report details their conclusions in this respect: “It is apparent from speaking to him for any length of time that he has a clear desire to gain financial benefit from the position he and his brother are in relative to the case. As a consequence he exaggerates his own importance as a witness and clearly inflates the fears that he and his brother have... Although demanding, Paul Gauci remains an asset to the case but will continue to explore any means he can to identify where financial advantage can be gained.”
The report makes it clear that until then the Gaucis had not received any money.
But the commission established that some time after the conclusion of Mr Megrahi’s appeal, Tony and Paul Gauci were each paid sums of money under the Rewards or Justice programme administered by the US State Department.
Of particular note is an entry in Mr Bell’s diary for September 28, 1989: “He (Agent Murray of the FBI) had authority to arrange unlimited money for Tony Gauci and relocation is available. Murray states that he could arrange $10,000 immediately.”
When interviewed by the commission, Mr Bell was asked if Agent Murray had ever met Mr Gauci, to which he replied “I cannot say that he did not do so”.
However, the commission also noted that FBI Agent Hosinski had met with Mr Gauci alone on October 2, 1989 but Mr Bell said he would “seriously doubt that any offer of money was made to Tony during that meeting”.
See also Lockerbie: Report reveals Megrahi may be innocent