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Saturday, 24 June, 2000, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Lockerbie trial delves into 'murky world'
Courtroom
The trial is at a special court in the Netherlands
BBC Scotland's home affairs correspondent, Reevel Alderson has been covering the Lockerbie trial for the past week, and the pages of his reporter's notebook are filled with the murky world of international arms dealers and secret service agents.


For most of the past week a Swiss businessman, Edwin Bollier, has been in the witness stand.

Wearing an open-necked cream shirt with epaulettes, he has been answering questions from first the prosecutor, Allan Turnbull, and latterly from the defence.

He sits back in his chair listening to the question which is translated for him into German, and then leans into the microphone as he gives his answer.

Edwin Bollier
Edwin Bollier: Swiss businessman
Mr Bollier is a key witness because his company, Mebo, manufactured the timer which detonated the Lockerbie bomb.

A tiny fragment of circuit board, which was found in the Lockerbie crash site, led forensic experts to the conclusion that it was from an MST-13 timer, made only by Mebo at the time.

Under normal circumstances, you might imagine a Crown witness, with such significant links to a crime, would be crucial in proving that those in the dock were responsible.

But Mr Bollier has been given a roasting by the Advocate Depute, Allan Turnbull QC - who called him - and then by the defence side.

Normally it would be the defence who would try to discredit a witness called by the prosecution.

Alterations to evidence

On this occasion, Mr Turnbull was doing it for them.

Or rather Mr Bollier was doing it for himself with a series of alterations to his evidence, contradictions to what he had told investigators earlier and a series of mysteries which had happened in the years since the 1988 bombing.

Let me give you an example.

Mr Bollier told the court that a company in Florida also made MST-13 timers, which they supplied to the CIA.

High Court, Netherlands
The case is being heard by Scottish High Court judges
He said that his blueprints had been stolen - until then Mebo had been the only company making the devices.

It was his contention that perhaps the timer could have come from America.

Very patiently Mr Turnbull showed Mr Bollier a photocopy he had made of a blueprint of its design.

The photocopy had been made after the fragment of circuit board had been found so Mr Bollier reluctantly agreed that after all his company was the only one making such devices when the bomb was exploded.

The Libyans were Mebo's biggest customers.

He sold them MST-13 timers and took part in field trials in which they were used to detonate explosions.

Questioned by FBI

But he could not remember how many he had supplied. He has also supplied the devices to the East German secret service, the Stasi.

He has been questioned by police and investigators from Scotland, Switzerland, Germany and the FBI as well as Libya and has made statements to them all.

In court he found he could not agree with some of the statements he had made, claiming he had not said that - he had said something else.

Why it had been changed was a mystery. At one point, with another mystery being queried by the prosecutor, Mr Bollier said he did not understand it.

Police
There is high security at the court
"It's something I ask myself frequently," he said. "And when you ask yourself that question," the advocate depute replied, "what answer do you come up with?"

Mr Bollier was revealed as a man who had been considered for prosecution himself as part of the conspiracy charge.

The Crown had not considered there was sufficient evidence though, but Mr Turnbull told the judges who are hearing the case that just because he was not indicted did not mean that he was not involved.

There was the business of a strange letter Mr Bollier had written to the CIA shortly after the Lockerbie bombing.

Mystery man

He had written it on a Spanish typewriter and in it blamed the Libyans and Colonel Gadaffi.

Mr Bollier explained this letter was written on the orders of a mystery man who had appeared at his office.

In the letter he had mentioned the bomb was in a suitcase - he had made it all up, he admitted.

In fact a lot of his evidence has been challenged as having been made up.

He has said he was in touch with the Libyans after the bombing with good news as he put it.

That was that he was giving evidence that the East Germans had been responsible.

Towards the end of the proceedings he was denying he was an East German collaborator who had tried to blame the Libyans for the bombing.

'Borrowed money'

Defence advocate Richard Keen put it to him: "You became drawn into a web of cunning and deceit and lies, in which you are still enmeshed, Mr Bollier.

"Is that not the case?"

"No. That is not correct."

"Do I take it, Mr Bollier, that you are just a legitimate Swiss businessman? Is that correct?"

"That is correct."

This witness has been a man who tried to borrow money from the East Germans, from the Libyans and from the Americans.

Whatever weight his evidence will be given by the judges, it is clear - if it had not been before this week - that the Lockerbie bombing was the result of international terrorism, and that international terrorists shop in the market place for the weapons of their terrible deeds just like any other customers.

And that no matter how nasty the request, there will be someone who, at a price, will provide.

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See also:

23 Jun 00 | World
Pan Am blast man's Stasi link
19 Jun 00 | World
Trial told of bomb timer links
22 Jun 00 | World
Bomb timer boss blamed Libyans
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