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Friday, 2 June, 2000, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Lockerbie bomb location 'error'
A bomb blows a hole in the fuselage of a jumbo jet
Experts ran a full-scale reconstruction of the blast
A key prosecution witness in the Lockerbie trial has been accused of miscalculating the location of the bomb which destroyed Pan Am Flight 103.

Defence advocate Richard Keen suggested to Professor Christopher Peel that a correct figure for the distance from the bomb to the skin of the aircraft would be three inches less than he had indicated.

But Professor Peel, a UK Government scientist who was giving evidence for a third day, insisted his 24-inch figure was correct, which was based on a formula using data from the damage to the plane's fuselage.

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
Mr Keen, for Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, said if the witness had used an earlier calculation then the stand-off distance of the bomb could be as small as 17 inches.

Professor Peel, 54, a chief scientist with the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (Dera) in Farnborough, told the trial on Thursday that his research showed the 1lb bomb was some 24 inches from the skin of the fuselage.

On Friday, he insisted he had used a more accurate figure, which was qualified by further tests.

Under intense cross-examination, his complex calculations came under attack with the defence accusing him of misapplying government software.

His definitions were also scrutinised by Mr Keen who repeated eight times in reference to a picture: "Can you see evidence of shatter at the top of the petal edges?"

Different theories

Re-examined by the prosecution's Alan Turnbull QC, Professor Peel defended the different reports he had produced after the bombing.

He accepted that using different figures and theories the stand-off distance of the bomb could be as small as 12 inches placing it outside the baggage container.

But the court heard how Professor Peel remained confident he had used the more reliable methods.

The court later heard evidence from Maltese Ministry of Education employee, Alexander Bugeja, who in 1988 was assistant general manager at a clothing company on the island.

He said that the firm, Johnsons Clothing Limited, manufactured clothing including a range of shirts sold under the Slalom label made especially for a Valetta-based distributor.

Mr Bugeja identified a singed cuff and chest pocket from fragments of shirts similar to the ones produced by his company, which ceased trading in 1995.

Two hundred and seventy people were killed when the jet crashed on the evening of 21 December, 1988.

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See also:

31 May 00 | World
Case 'not on container floor'
25 May 00 | World
Lockerbie bomb report 'error'
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