BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

BBC Scotland's Reevel Alderson reports
"A baggage container has been reconstructed by air accident investigators and brought into court"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 30 May, 2000, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Container viewed by Lockerbie court
Reconstructed plane
The fuselage was ripped apart by the blast
An aluminium baggage container reconstructed after the Lockerbie bombing has been examined at the trial of two Libyans in the Netherlands.

The six-foot high container and its floor panel was dismantled and then rebuilt at the request of the defence.

It was originally reconstructed by Peter Claydon, from the UK's Air Accident Investigation Branch, who gave evidence at the trial of the two men accused of bombing the New York-bound Boeing 747 in December 1988.

Questioned by prosecuting counsel Alan Turnbull, QC, Mr Claydon said that in his opinion, the damage to luggage container 4041 was caused by a "high energy event" - "possibly an explosion".

There was no doubt in his mind, that the "event" occurred within the baggage container itself.

Baggage container
The baggage container was brought to court
Mr Claydon, 53, said he reached the conclusion after studying the differing degrees of damage to different sections of the hold including the floor and outboard panels - one of which clearly displayed the Pan Am logo.

"In a broad sense, it did appear the focus for this damage would have been in the aft outboard quarter of the container," he said.

"In simple and broad terms, we formed the view that surface had been protected by something from the blast.

"The first thing was that the surface had been protected by a piece of baggage - something that did not allow the direct effects of an explosion to impinge upon that surface."

The trial
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 48, and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44, plead not guilty
They are charged with murdering 270 people
They face alternative charges of conspiracy to murder and a breach of the 1982 Aviation Security Act
They have lodged special defences of incrimination blaming, among others, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command
About 1,000 witnesses are expected to give evidence
The trial could last for a year
The air accident investigator said he "reasoned" that if a device had exploded within a suitcase it was unlikely to have been placed directly on the floor.

It was more likely to have been on top of and overhanging another suitcase, he explained.

The prosecution says the two accused put the clothes in a suitcase which was loaded onto a feeder flight from Malta to Frankfurt and then onto the fated flight to New York.

If that is the true, the suitcase had to be at the bottom of the baggage container.

The defence wants to prove that the position of the case would have meant it could not have come from Malta - meaning the accused could not have been responsible.

It is believed this complicated matter of physics could prove crucial to the overall case.

The crash killed all 259 people aboard and 11 people on the ground on 21 December, 1988.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

25 May 00 | World
Lockerbie bomb report 'error'
24 May 00 | World
Paper defends Lockerbie story
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more World stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more World stories