Lockerbie break-in evidence 'lost'11/09/2001 - 08:23:07
New evidence has emerged which could throw doubt on the conviction of Libyan Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, found guilty of murder for his part in the Lockerbie bomb blast, it was reported today.
A security guard at Heathrow Airport told police that Pan Am’s baggage area was broken into on December 21, 1988, some 17 hours before the airline’s Flight 103 took off for New York, The Mirror newspaper said.
As the plane passed over the small Scottish town it was ripped apart by a bomb, killing all 259 passengers and crew, as well as 11 Lockerbie residents on the ground.
The newspaper said security guard Ray Manly reported the break-in at the time and was interviewed by anti-terrorist officers the following month.
But his evidence was lost, the newspaper said, and formed no part of the trial in a Scottish court sitting in Camp Zeist, Holland, which saw Al Megrahi jailed for a minimum of 20 years in January.
Fellow Libyan Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah was acquitted.
During the trial, prosecutors claimed that Al Megrahi placed the bomb on a flight from Malta to Frankfurt, where it was then ‘‘interlined’’ on to a flight to Heathrow before being loaded on to Flight 103.
But the defence said it was more likely the bomb was introduced at Heathrow.
Mr Manly told police he found that a padlock near the Pan Am desk at Heathrow’s Terminal Three appeared to have been severed with bolt cutters.
This would have cleared the way for a bomb to be planted among Pan Am luggage which had already passed through security checks, the newspaper said.
Mr Manly told The Mirror: ‘‘I can’t believe the statement was lost.
‘‘No one at the trial knew about the break-in.’’
The High Court of Judiciary in Edinburgh last month granted Megrahi permission to appeal against his conviction.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled to take place in Camp Zeist next month.
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