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BBC Scotland's Duncam Kirkhope reports
"The prosecution case hinges on the argument that the Libyans were responsible for sending the bomb on its way from Malta"
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Friday, 12 January, 2001, 15:01 GMT
Lockerbie trial hears of security doubts
Frankfurt Airport
Questions have been raised about security here
Defence lawyers in the Lockerbie trial have called into question security arrangements at an airport which handled the luggage containing the bomb.

The defence had alleged that Palestinian extremists - and not the two Libyans accused - were the real bombers behind the outrage which killed 270 people in December 1988.

The prosecution case has focused on allegations that the Libyans were responsible for sending the bomb on its way from Malta and that it was transferred to a Heathrow-bound flight at Frankfurt Airport.

But defence counsel William Taylor QC argued that security procedures at Frankfurt were inadequate, with baggage handlers making mistakes as they struggled to cope with pressures of work.

Trial details
The two accused are Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 48, and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44
Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, killing all 259 people on board and another 11 on the ground
The two men deny murder. Charges of conspiracy to murder and a breach of the 1982 Aviation Security Act were dropped
The trial is taking place in a Scottish courtroom at Camp Zeist, in the Netherlands
The case is being heard by a panel of Scottish judges
The systems in place were much less effective, he said, than in Malta.

The defence case has been that a German cell of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC) had the means and the motive to attack the Boeing 747 Pan Am Flight 103.

Mr Taylor pointed out that the defence did not have to prove anything.

It only had to sow sufficient doubt over the prosecution case against Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah in the minds of the judges.

Mr Taylor, representing Mr Al Megrahi, said: "There was pressure at Frankfurt because of guarantees given in relation to the turnaround of the aircraft to operate the baggage conveyance system as quickly as possible."

He told the court evidence had been heard that security passes were not always checked at Frankfurt and there was at least one example of a "mystery worker" placing luggage into the system and sparking a security alert.

Mr Taylor also raised the question of whether there was a possibility of another unaccompanied bag on the Pan Am flight.

Luqa Airport
The device was allegedly sent from Malta
He said documents from German airline Lufthansa showed there were many questions raised by a piece of luggage which arrived at Frankfurt from Warsaw on the day of the bombing.

The court was told printouts showed it was headed for flight 103 but no passenger from the Warsaw plane was destined for the same aircraft.

"Did it fly from Heathrow on Pan Am 103? Did it contain the improvised explosive device?" he asked.

The case was adjourned until Tuesday when Mr Taylor is due to continue his closing speech.

Richard Keen QC, the advocate representing co-accused Mr Fhimah, 44, will begin his closing submissions next week.

After that, the three judges are expected to retire for a week or more to consider its verdict.

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See also:

11 Jan 01 | World
Lockerbie case 'unproven'
08 Jan 01 | Lockerbie Trial
Lockerbie defence cut short
08 Jan 01 | Lockerbie Trial
Analysis: Conclusion of Lockerbie evidence
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