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Thursday, 24 August, 2000, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Bags 'left unattended' at airport
Camp Zeist courtroom
The trial is taking place inside a special courtroom
The Lockerbie trial in the Netherlands has heard witnesses questioning baggage handling procedures at Heathrow Airport.

The indictment against the two Libyans accused of planting the bomb was said to have started its journey at Malta Airport and then routed through Frankfurt and Heathrow airports.

The special court at Camp Zeist was told on Thursday that baggage was sometimes left unattended because of workload and during refurbishment.

One witness, a former Pan Am employee, admitted that anyone wearing a uniform and a pass could have been in the area and would not necessarily have been challenged.

The accused have denied all the charges and have filed a special defence incriminating others.

Talks with CIA

Earlier this week, the trial was told that "good progress" had been made in talks with the CIA about the handover of classified documents relating to the bombing.

Scotland's senior law officer, Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC, met CIA officials on Tuesday, after the defence team demanded full access to the documents.

Twenty-five cables containing CIA handlers' debriefings of a Libyan defector Abdul Majid Giaka have been submitted as evidence but with large sections of text blacked out.

Lawyers for the two accused were supported by the three judges, who called on the CIA to reveal the missing text.

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 three charges - murder, conspiracy to murder and a breach of the 1982 Aviation Security Act
The trial is taking place in a Scottish courtroom at Camp Zeist, in the Netherlands
The case is being heard by three Scottish judges
He is expected to testify that he saw the accused in Malta on December 21, 1988 when a bomb hidden in a suitcase was put on a Maltese airliner, tagged for transfer in Frankfurt onto Pan Am Flight 103.

Mr Boyd had argued in court that the agency's censorship was necessary because the material contained references to spies' true names and current operations.

On Wednesday, Mr Boyd's assistant, advocate deputy Alastair Campbell, said "good progress" was being made in the discussions to have the information declassified and released to the defence lawyers.

The year's worth of dispatches start in August 1988 - four months before the terrorist attack - when the Libyan agent walked into the US embassy in Malta and offered his services as a mole.

Protection programme

Giaka, who now lives in hiding under the US witness protection programme, reportedly saw one of the defendants check in the Samsonite suitcase containing the Lockerbie bomb at Malta airport.

He is due to give evidence next Monday.

The defendants, also Libyan agents, posed as Libyan Arab Airlines employees, according to the indictment.

It is said the suitcase, containing the plastic explosive Semtex, had been checked as unaccompanied luggage through Frankfurt, Germany, to the New York-bound airliner at London's Heathrow Airport.

Maltese police inspector John Ellul, who testified for the prosecution, said that while investigating a murder scene in May 1986, he found three metal biscuit boxes containing wires and Semtex wrapped inside Libyan newspapers.

Al-Megrahi's lawyer Bill Taylor QC responded: "To describe that link with Libya as tenuous is to stretch the word beyond human comprehension."

The trial continues.

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