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Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 17:58 GMT
Lockerbie witness branded liar
Courtroom
The court heard of Mebo's links with the Libyans
A prominent witness in the Lockerbie trial has been severely criticised by counsel representing one of the two Libyans accused of the bombing.

Swiss businessman Edwin Bollier, whose company is said to have manufactured the timing device for the bomb used in the atrocity, was branded a "liar and a fantasist" who was motivated by greed.

William Taylor QC, who has been defending Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, also turned his fire on Mr Bollier's partner Irwin Meister and said they had misled the court.

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
He told the court at Camp Zeist, Holland: "They have falsely focused in on Libya and Libyans with whom they dealt and told lies about them."

Mr Bollier and Mr Meister's Swiss firm MEBO manufactured and sold MST13 timers - the type said to have triggered the Lockerbie bomb.

A tiny fragment of the timer's circuit board was found amid the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 and traced back to MEBO.

Mr Taylor said Mr Bollier was a man "prone to invention" who hoped to receive a cash reward from the American authorities for information about the 1988 bombing.

In 1988, Mr Bollier travelled to Libya after he received an urgent order for timers from the Libyan army.

He had previously sold them MST13 timers but on this occasion could not produce them so took over 20 Olympus timers instead.

His Libyan contacts rejected these and he returned to Zurich with them.

Mr Bollier claimed that on his return he discovered they had been programmed for 1930 hrs on a Wednesday - the Lockerbie bombing occurred at 1903 on Wednesday 21December 1988.

Mr Meister told the court a similar story.

Edwin Bollier
Edwin Bollier's evidence came under attack
However, Mr Taylor insisted they concocted that evidence, adding: "They are both thoroughly unreliable witnesses."

Mr Taylor said they also lied about supplying MST13 timers to the Stasi - the secret police of the former East Germany.

Until October 1993, Mr Bollier always claimed such timers were only sold to Libya.

His technician Ueli Lumpert, who designed the unique timer, said in court that two prototypes of the device were made for the Stasi in 1985.

Mr Bollier later claimed he had forgotten about this supply, only telling the police about it in 1993.

Mr Taylor insisted that it was unlikely Mr Bollier had forgotten but that he and Mr Meister deliberately concealed the supply.

Stasi link

Mr Taylor told the court that they hid the information because they wanted to concentrate only on their dealings with Libya - therefore any evidence from them implicating Al Megrahi could "not be trusted".

He added: "The Stasi was one source an organisation such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) could have obtained timers from to carry out the destruction of Pan Am 103."

CIA graphic
Giaka is receiving protection from the CIA
The PFLP-GC is one of two Palestinian terror groups named in a special defence as being responsible for the Lockerbie disaster.

Later, Mr Taylor attacked the evidence of crown witness Abdul Majid Giaka, a former Libyan spy who defected to the United States and worked for the CIA.

He described Giaka as "a man who tells lies for a living".

Giaka, who lives in the US under a new identity as part of the federal witness protection programme, claimed he started working for the Libyan security services (JSO) in 1984.

He said he was moved to work at Malta airport in 1986 alongside the two accused men.

Giaka has told the court that Fhimah once showed him a desk drawer filled with explosives in their office.

He also said he was asked by Said Rashid, of the JSO, to explore the possibility of placing an unaccompanied bag on board a British aircraft at the airport.

'Nonsense' claims

Mr Taylor insisted that the information given by Giaka to his CIA handlers was exaggerated and designed to suggest he had more insight into the JSO than was the case.

He said Giaka's motivation was a desire to prove himself valuable to the CIA, to make sure he received payment from them and also a relocation to the US.

Mr Taylor described the explosives story as "utter nonsense."

He said the story was "virtually unverifiable" by the CIA and that it was improbable anyone would keep explosives in a place where they could be discovered by cleaners or co-workers.

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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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