by Paula Murray
The Lockerbie bomber was the only Libyan in the crucial identity parade before his trial in the Netherlands, the Sunday Express can reveal.
Secret documents prepared by Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi’s lawyers show Dutch officials struggled to find volunteers who resembled the terror suspect.
The pool of lookalikes included white Europeans, men who were significantly taller or shorter than Megrahi and one who would have been 14 at the time of the atrocity.
Even so, Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci – the Crown’s key witness who was paid £1.2million to testify – still struggled to pick out Megrahi.
The revelations cast further doubt on the Libyan’s conviction over the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing, which killed 270 people. in December 1988.
Yesterday, details of a secret report emerged showing that there were seven major flaws in the evidence.
The father-of-five, now 59, was released from prison two years ago as he was judged to have less than three months to live with cancer.
First Minister Alex Salmond and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, writing in today’s Sunday Express, have defended their decision.
Yesterday, Mr Salmond said the new evidence “could and should have been judged in a court of law” but added that he “did not doubt” Megrahi’s guilt.
Megrahi is being kept alive with cancer drugs not available in the UK and has not been told about the Libyan rebels’ advance on the capital.
One source said: “Brother Al-Megrahi is very weak and eating very little. A great deal of information is being kept from him, including the advance of the rebel forces.”
A dossier for Megrahi’s appeal – which was dropped days before his release – claim the ID parade in April 1999 “fell short of what was fair”. Gauci, who sold clothing that was later packed in a suitcase with the bomb, said he could not be sure if any of the men were the same individual who had visited his shop a decade earlier.
Eventually, he picked out Megrahi as the one who “looked a little bit like exactly” the purchaser.
The report claims the parade was carried out after “an extraordinary length of time” using “stand-ins” who were not “sufficiently similar”.
It also points out that Megrahi’s photograph had widely published.Police reports from the parade are described as “incomplete and confusing”.
Professor Steven Clark, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, states: “At no time did [Gauci] ever clearly and definitively assert that Mr. Megrahi was the man who came into his store.
“Rather, in each identification procedure, he stated that Mr. Megrahi was ‘similar’ or ‘resembled’ the man.”
Another eyewitness identification expert, Professor Tim Valentine, of Golsmiths University of London, said: “I do have concern of the quality of the identification evidence. I wouldn’t want to be convicted on identification evidence of that quality.”
Scottish campaigner Iain McKie, a member of the Justice for Megrahi committee, added: “The identification process of Megrahi was totally and utterly flawed and wrong. Yet the conviction rests on that identification. The whole process was rotten.”
Courtesy of the Scottish Sunday Express