Closed-door Lockerbie hearings in Malta focused on new case against co-accused
Double jeopardy legislation passed by the Scottish parliament last year
Court hearings held behind closed doors in Malta last month were part of a fresh investigation by Lockerbie bombing investigators who are examining evidence that could implicate Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, the Libyan originally acquitted of the atrocity, The Scotsman newspaper reports today.
The secret hearings were revealed by The Times. It was reported at the time that police of the Dumfries and Galloway constabulary – which is responsible for the town of Lockerbie – were working with US law enforcement “in pursuit of lines of enquiry”.
The Scotsman said the Crown Office had always maintained that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Libyan agent convicted of the 1988 bombing, did not act alone. The basis of last month's hearings in Malta related to the actions of Megrahi, Fhimah and others in the Libyan intelligence services.
They focused on the explosive package allegedly placed on Air Malta flight KM180, which was transferred on to Pan Am flight 103, and exploded above Lockerbie, killing 270 people.
Fhimah, a former station manager for Libyan Arab Airlines, stood trial alongside Megrahi at Camp Zeist. He was acquitted in 2001 and returned home to a hero's welcome in Libya. He could face a new prosecution under double jeopardy legislation passed by the Scottish parliament last year.
Documents sent along with a "commission rogatoire" – a formal request for judicial assistance – by the Crown Office to officials in Malta, reveal that Fhimah is still in the sights of prosecutors, the newspaper says.
The Crown Office declined to disclose details of the letter other than to say that: "The circumstances giving rise to this request are that it is alleged that the said Megrahi and Fhimah, acting in concert with others and with the Libyan intelligence services... caused an improvised explosive device to be placed among clothing and an umbrella, which had been purchased in Malta, within a suitcase which had been tagged so as to enable it to be carried on Air Malta flight KM180 to Frankfurt on 21 December, 1988."
A Crown Office spokesman told the newspaper: "The trial court accepted that Megrahi acted in furtherance of the Libyan intelligence services in an act of state sponsored terrorism and did not act alone. It would not be appropriate to offer further comment."