Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Responsibility for MH17 crash investigation under UN Security Council Resolution

The following was an accurate statement the legal position yesterday morning regarding responsibility for investigating the circumstances of the MH17 disaster in Ukraine:

‘European investigators, who unexpectedly arrived on the Malaysian aircraft crash site in eastern Ukraine, had “no legal locus” to participate in the investigation without Kiev's invite, Professor Robert Black of the University of Edinburgh, known as the “architect of the Lockerbie trial”, told RIA Novosti on Monday.

‘“If the nation decides that they don’t have the necessary facilities or investigative infrastructure, then they can call on another state or states to lend them the expertise,” said Black, a globally recognized legal expert, who specialized in examining the judicial issues surrounding the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.

‘“Air investigation teams from Europe simply arrived at the scene and are now complaining that they weren’t immediately allowed free access to the site,” the lawyer said.

‘“It is understandable that they should be annoyed, but they have no legal locus to be there whatsoever unless and until they are invited to participate by the state which has the legal responsibility to investigate,” Black added.

‘“The law is that the responsibility to investigate is that of the state where the plane came down. But given the circumstances in that part of Ukraine at the moment, it is a difficult question to answer. Who is the state and who is the government of that state?” the expert said.

‘Black agreed it was important for the site to be secured and called for proper international investigation into the circumstances of the crash.’

Later that day, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2166 (2014). This now provides (and is binding in international law):

“The Security Council (...)

6. Demands that the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site, including by refraining from destroying, moving, or disturbing wreckage, equipment, debris, personal belongings, or remains, and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unrestricted access to the site and surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and representatives of other relevant international organizations according to ICAO and other established procedures;

7. Demands that all military activities, including by armed groups, be immediately ceased in the immediate area surrounding the crash site to allow for security and safety of the international investigation;

8. Insists on the dignified, respectful and professional treatment and recovery of the bodies of the victims, and calls upon all parties to ensure that this happens with immediate effect; 

9. Calls on all States and actors in the region to cooperate fully in relation to the international investigation of the incident, including with respect to immediate and unrestricted access to the crash site as referred to in paragraph 6 (...)”

OSCE = Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
ICAO = International Civil Aviation Organization

Lockerbie relative: Grieve MH17 through love, not revenge

[This is the headline over an article by Dr Jim Swire published today on the CNN website. It reads as follows:]

Editor's note: Jim Swire is the father of Flora, who was one of the 270 victims of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

The first question for many relatives of the victims of MH17, as for us after Lockerbie, will be whether their loved ones suffered.

Explosive decompression of an aircraft fuselage at 35,000 feet will cause almost instantaneous loss of consciousness. Explosive decompression is a terribly apt phrase.

If it turns out to be true that MH17 was hit by a Buk Soviet-era SA missile, their warheads contain about 140 times the explosive in the PA 103 bomb. It seems impossible therefore that anyone aboard could have remained aware to suffer in the aftermath.

The essence of the tragedy of MH17 is the suffering of the relatives. Some will need to view the bodies of those they lost. Surely they deserve security to say their last farewells. They should have that option. Bodies need to be treated with respect and precision of identification.

I believe that in the case of MH17 the United Nations should also oversee immediate sending of an international team of investigators, covered by force if necessary, to ensure that relatives' needs, the bodies themselves and the evidence field are protected. It is already very late, but not too late. There has already been looting, abhorrent to relatives, there is something particularly unsavory about the thought of unauthorised interference with bodies, or indeed personal effects of the dead.

There will now be some uncertainty about the evidential material on site. Maybe the U.N. should in future have a standby arrangement for immediate deployment of such an international "sterilizing force." Even in the case of Lockerbie, evidence emerged in court of improper interference with potentially evidential material on the crash site within Scotland.

In the UK we found that a relatives' group predicated on the concept of allowing everyone to grieve in their own way, but always there to support its members, helped. The humanist, highly caring, relative co-ordinating our group cannot know how many of us she has helped through her dedication and skills.

One of the most difficult yet most rewarding aspects of Christ's philosophy was to extend love to others even when they seem to be your enemy. We have witnessed the bitterness and personal destruction that can spring from rampant lust for revenge.

Lust for revenge is natural, but self-defeating, for the consequence of revenge is so often further revenge. Nor does it even bring peace of mind to the avenger. Of course we condemn the actions of perpetrators and would rightly have them punished for what they have done, but we don't have to hate the perpetrators themselves. Imprisoned, they may emerge one day to do good.

The late Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu helped to create the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. That concept can only work if truth precedes the attempts at reconciliation. Truth may become a fickle wraith for families to pursue through the labyrinth of International politics. It was Mandela too who publicly warned, long before the trial of those accused by the U.S. and UK of responsibility for Lockerbie, that: "No one country should be complainant, prosecutor and judge."

The West ignored this warning.

It is perhaps significant that the Netherlands, which lost far more citizens in MH17 than any other country, finds herself already the home of the International Criminal Court.

Powerful governments have powerful means of controlling what we know and believe. International courts should be immune to that. Perversely it was the evidence produced at the Lockerbie trial in Zeist, Holland, which confirmed for some that Moammar Gaddafi's Libya was responsible.

But for other close watchers, there were doubts there which have now greatly increased and led 25 UK Lockerbie relatives, together with members of the family of the one Libyan found guilty, recently to lodge a request for a third appeal against the Zeist verdict with Scotland's Criminal Case Review Commission.

Nowadays we have a better route, through the International Criminal Court, and what those of us who are not MH17 relatives should do is to monitor and encourage all efforts to pass the whole known truth to the MH17 relatives and to discover and detain those responsible. It is no coincidence that Holland already hosts the ICC, for that nation's record in support of international justice is outstanding.

MH17 relatives may also find help from the small UK charity Disaster Action. This cannot deal with so huge a tragedy directly but carries within it wisdom distilled from Lockerbie and other tragedies.

A controversial conviction

[A letter from Bob Taylor in today’s edition of The Scotsman reads as follows:]

Is it right at this stage to draw any parallel between the
 controversy over the Lockerbie bombing and the disaster involving MH17?

Dr Jim Swire has drawn attention, 
correctly, to the anguish of the victims’ relatives, and to key questions over the Malaysian airliner’s flight path, and the source of the lethal rocket, if that is the real cause of the carnage.

But we should heed, too, the views of Keir Giles. His main point is that investigation of the detail of that carnage is being hampered by local activity of secessionist gunmen and untrained volunteers.

The Lockerbie probe, though by no means flawless, was 
conducted by the appropriate
 police authority, together with intelligence services.

The area around which it
 happened was not, as in the Ukraine, the subject of national and international controversy. A task of investigation which looked utterly formidable was completed and a case made for prosecution of individuals.

We now know that perhaps all the evidence was not looked at, that the Al-Megrahi conviction was controversial, perhaps others were involved, and that even they may be a convenient scapegoat.

It remains the case that a coherent investigation took place as did a trial under Scots law, albeit outwith Scottish territory.

A miscarriage of justice may have taken place, but at least a semblance of legal procedure was followed.

The tragedy in eastern Ukraine is that lawlessness threatens to prevail over an international outrage. Unless pressure on Vladimir Putin’s regime to act 
continues, the reputation of
 international justice and diplomacy will be destroyed. 

[RB: There are credible reports that the integrity of the Pan Am 103 crash scene at Lockerbie was not scrupulously maintained.]

Air crash hypocrisy blog claim

[This is the headline over a report in today’s edition of The Herald. It reads as follows:]

A leading campaigner against the Megrahi conviction for the Lockerbie bombing has accused the Scottish and UK Governments of hypocrisy for demanding full disclosure from Russia over the flight brought down over Ukraine.

Writing on his blog the Justice for Megrahi campaigner and Emeritus Professor of Scots Law at Edinburgh University, Robert Black, is scathing of both governments' approach to the downing of the Malaysian airliner while they refuse to re-open investigations into what happened over his home town of Lockerbie in 1988.

Professor Black said on his blog: "Is there no limit to the hypocrisy of the leaders of the Scottish and United Kingdom governments?

"Both Alex Salmond and David Cameron have refused to countenance an independent inquiry into the Lockerbie case."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Mr Al-Megrahi was convicted in a court of law and his conviction was upheld on appeal." The UK Government did not respond.

[Here is the full text of my criticism: “Is there no limit to the hypocrisy of the leaders of the Scottish and United Kingdom governments? Both Alex Salmond and David Cameron have refused to countenance an independent inquiry into the Lockerbie case, notwithstanding the wishes of the relatives of UK victims and the now almost universal acceptance, on the clearest of evidence, that the conviction of Abdelbaset Megrahi was a travesty of justice and the inculpation of Libya at best precarious.”]

Monday, 21 July 2014

Maltese Prime Minister on Lockerbie

[What follows is a brief extract from a long article just published on the website of the Maltese newspaper The Independent:]

A question regarding the Lockerbie bombing ... was flung at Prime Minister Joseph Muscat during a question and answer session at the London School of Economics whilst discussing the Commonwealth. (...)

He added that Malta has been lucky that British bases were closed peacefully, without bloodshed. “We are a model as to how a country can transform from a colony to a free state”.

On the subject of Lockerbie, Dr Muscat argued [Dr Jim] Swire, the father of a girl killed in the bombing, said that Malta had nothing to do with the bombing and that he has met with Swire many times and will meet him again in the future. 

[The Maltese Foreign Minister has expressed himself even more clearly on Lockerbie: see Maltese minister believes Megrahi innocent.]

Crash scene integrity: Ukraine and Lockerbie

Amidst all of the reports about the MH17 crash scene being “severely compromised” (of which this is a typical example) so rendering investigation of the circumstances of the disaster more difficult, it is perhaps worth remembering that serious claims have been made by reputable sources about interference with the integrity of the Pan Am 103 crash site at Lockerbie from the evening of 21 December 1988 onwards. This issue is dealt with in Dr Ludwig de Braeckeleer’s essay Suspicious Activities at Lockerbie Crash Site.

Legal responsibility for aircraft accident investigation

[I was interviewed this morning by Mark Hirst for RIA Novosti. Here is his report:]

European investigators, who unexpectedly arrived on the Malaysian aircraft crash site in eastern Ukraine, had “no legal locus” to participate in the investigation without Kiev's invite, Professor Robert Black of the University of Edinburgh, known as the “architect of the Lockerbie trial”, told RIA Novosti on Monday.

“If the nation decides that they don’t have the necessary facilities or investigative infrastructure, then they can call on another state or states to lend them the expertise,” said Black, a globally recognized legal expert, who specialized in examining the judicial issues surrounding the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.

“Air investigation teams from Europe simply arrived at the scene and are now complaining that they weren’t immediately allowed free access to the site,” the lawyer said.

“It is understandable that they should be annoyed, but they have no legal locus to be there whatsoever unless and until they are invited to participate by the state which has the legal responsibility to investigate,” Black added.

“The law is that the responsibility to investigate is that of the state where the plane came down. But given the circumstances in that part of Ukraine at the moment, it is a difficult question to answer. Who is the state and who is the government of that state?” the expert said.

Black agreed it was important for the site to be secured and called for proper international investigation into the circumstances of the crash.

Malaysia Airlines' Flight MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, causing death of 283 passengers and 15 crew members.

Ukrainian government and militia have been trading blame for the alleged downing of the plane, with independence supporters saying they lacked the technology to shoot down a target flying at altitude of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

Commenting on the crash, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it was vital to abstain from hasty conclusions on the case before the international investigation was over.

The UN Security Council late on Sunday night completed the text of its resolution regarding the Malaysia Airlines crash. Russia introduced its own draft resolution to the UN Security Council, calling for an impartial investigation into the circumstances of the crash.

The price paid at Lockerbie for an appalling and unforgivable blunder

[Today’s edition of The Daily Telegraph contains an article headed This is Putin’s war, and this disaster is his responsibility by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson. It reads in part:]

On the morning of July 3 1988, a passenger jet was taking off from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. It was an Airbus A300 operated by Iran Air, and on board were 290 people including 66 children. They were about to make a routine flight to Dubai, where many of them intended to have a holiday – Iran being a bit miserable at that time, since it was the middle of the Iran-Iraq war. At 10.17am, the plane left the tarmac and began to climb to 14,000 feet for the 28-minute flight. They took an entirely predictable route. They turned on their transponder – in accordance with normal practice – so that it emitted a “squawk code” identifying the aircraft as civilian. The crew was experienced, and at all times maintained communication, in English, with air traffic control.

It was a tragedy for all concerned that on that same morning, a state-of-the-art US warship, the USS Vincennes, was lying more or less beneath them in the Straits of Hormuz. The USS Vincennes had been involved in an engagement in the past few hours, when one of its helicopters had come under small arms fire from Iranian vessels. It was only a year since 37 US sailors had died in an airborne attack by Iraq on the USS Stark. It would be fair to say that the crew on the bridge of the Vincennes were in a state of high battle alertness, if not nervousness.

At any rate, they somehow managed to mistake the Iranian Airbus flight 655 for an F-14A Tomcat fighter of the kind used by the Iranian air force. They thought the plane was descending in an attack run, when it was actually climbing. When the plane failed to respond to their calls, they took this to be a sign of hostile intent. With only minutes to spare, they made a decision to neutralise what they thought was a threat to their lives. They fired SM-2MR missiles at an unarmed jet, and blew it out of the sky, killing everyone on board. There were passengers from Iran, India, Pakistan, Yugoslavia and Italy. It was an appalling and unforgivable blunder, for which America and her allies were to pay a heavy price – not least at Lockerbie. (...)

The reason I mention the Iranian Airbus is not to suggest that there is some kind of moral equivalence between the two disasters – both of them the accidental shooting-down of a passenger jet – but rather the opposite. My purpose is to show the difference between these two events, and the difference that consequently emerges between a great and open democracy and the Russia of Vladimir Putin.

I will not pretend that the Americans were perfect in their handling of the Airbus tragedy. They never made a formal apology to Iran, and for some (incredible) reason the captain of the USS Vincennes was later awarded the Legion of Merit. But the first and most important difference was that when America erred, there was no significant attempt to deny the truth, or to cover up the enormity of what had happened. An inquiry was held, and it was accepted that there was absolutely no fault on the side of the Iranian plane. It was concluded that the bridge crew had essentially made a disastrous error in thinking the plane looked hostile, and this was ascribed to “scenario fulfilment”, whereby people trained to respond to a certain scenario (attack by air) carry out every detail of the procedure without thinking hard enough whether reality corresponds to the scenario.

Many in the US Navy went further, and said that the captain, William Rogers III, was at fault in the sense that he was notoriously willing to “pick a fight”. Furthermore, the US actually compensated the Iranians for the disaster, in that they eventually settled an international court case by paying $131.8 million, most of the sum going to the families of the deceased. In accepting some measure of responsibility towards the bereaved, and in trying to get at the truth, the US showed a degree of maturity and wisdom. Contrast Putin, with his evasion and obfuscation and lies. Can you imagine him ever accepting the reality of what has happened, let alone doing something to atone, such as sending money to the families of the victims?

Then there is the final and fundamental difference in the circumstances of the downing of the two passenger jets. The Americans made a horrific mistake, as they admitted; but they were not in the Straits of Hormuz as belligerents. On the contrary, the US Navy was trying to keep those seas safe. They were there to try to protect all the civilian and commercial traffic that was vulnerable because of the Iran-Iraq war.

Look at what Putin is doing in Ukraine, and the distinction is obvious. There is only one reason why those drunken Russian-backed separatists had access to a Buk surface-to-air missile. It was a present from Vladimir in the Kremlin. He has set on this conflict. He is fanning the flames of violence in a sovereign European state. This is his war. He bears responsibility, and he must not be allowed to get away with it.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Lockerbie and MH17: is there no limit to the hypocrisy of Salmond and Cameron?

[From the BBC News website yesterday:]

One Scot is known to have died after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in east Ukraine, First Minister Alex Salmond has confirmed.
Ten UK citizens were among 298 people who were killed in the incident. (...)
Describing the incident as an "appalling atrocity", Mr Salmond called for an international investigation to take place "quickly and effectively". (...)
He added: "It is now vitally important that an international investigation into the cause of the crash proceeds swiftly and effectively, and that investigation teams are given full access to the crash site.
"The Scottish government is in touch with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to ensure that any and all relevant expertise and experience in Scotland will be made available to the investigation now and in the coming weeks."
[From Prime Minister David Cameron’s Facebook page today:]
Like the horror of Lockerbie in 1988 when I was a young man, the images of the burnt-out Malaysian plane, 298 victims and their personal effects strewn across the wheatfields and villages around Grabovo in eastern Ukraine will never leave me. (...)
We must establish the full facts of what happened. (...)
We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action. Action to find those who committed this crime and bring them to justice. But this goes much wider than justice. (...)
First, there must be immediate access to the crash site and the crime scene must be preserved. The remains of the victims must be identified, treated with proper respect and dignity and returned to their families. There must be a ceasefire. And there must be a full investigation into what happened.
[Is there no limit to the hypocrisy of the leaders of the Scottish and United Kingdom governments? Both Alex Salmond and David Cameron have refused to countenance an independent inquiry into the Lockerbie case, notwithstanding the wishes of the relatives of UK victims and the now almost universal acceptance, on the clearest of evidence, that the conviction of Abdelbaset Megrahi was a travesty of justice and the inculpation of Libya at best precarious.]

Lockerbie: none of the evidence points to Libya

[The following are excerpts from Peter Hitchens’s column in today’s edition of The Mail on Sunday:]

One thing we should have learned in the past 100 years is  that war is hell. We might also have noticed that, once begun, war is hard  to stop and often takes shocking turns.

So those who began the current war in Ukraine – the direct cause of the frightful murder of so many innocents on Flight MH17 on Thursday – really have no excuse.

There is no doubt about who they were. In any war, the aggressor is the one who makes the first move into neutral or disputed territory.

And that aggressor was the European Union, which rivals China as the world’s most expansionist power, swallowing countries the way performing seals swallow fish (16 gulped down since 1995).

Ignoring repeated and increasingly urgent warnings from Moscow, the EU – backed by the USA – sought to bring Ukraine into its orbit. It did so through violence and illegality, an armed mob and the overthrow of an elected president.

I warned then that this would lead to terrible conflict. I wrote in March: ‘Having raised hopes that we cannot fulfil, we have awakened the ancient passions of this cruel part of the world – and who knows where our vainglorious folly will now lead?’

Now we see. (...)

Powerful weapons make it all too easy for people to do stupid, frightful things. Wars make such things hugely more likely to happen. (...)

In July 1988, highly trained US Navy experts aboard the cruiser Vincennes, using  ultra-modern equipment, moronically mistook an Iranian Airbus, Iran Air Flight 655, for an F-14 Tomcat warplane. They shot the airliner out of the sky, killing 290 innocent people, including 66 children.

All kinds of official untruths were told at the time to excuse this. In October 2001, bungling Ukrainian servicemen on exercise were the main suspects for the destruction of Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 over the Black Sea. Whoever did it, they killed 78 passengers and crew en route from Israel to Novosibirsk – though Ukraine has never officially admitted guilt.

Complex quarrels about blame for such horrors are often never resolved. I am among many who do not believe that Libya had anything to do with the mass murder of those aboard Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988, very likely an Iranian-backed retaliation for the Airbus tragedy. All the evidence points to a terror group operating from Syrian-controlled territory, and none points to Libya.  

But at the time of the prosecution, we were trying to make friends with Syria, which has since gone back near the top of our enemies list but may soon be our ally again, against the fanatics of Isis. Confused? You should be.

So, let us just mourn the dead and comfort the bereaved, and regret human folly and the wickedness of war. Let us not allow this miserable event to be fanned into a new war. That is what we did almost 100 years ago, and it is about time we learned something from that.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Lockerbie relatives know the human costs of a disaster like the downing of flight MH17

[This is the heading over a letter from Dr Jim Swire published today in The Daily Telegraph.  It reads as follows:]

Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, describes the consequences for victims' families

Relatives and friends will ask: did those aboard flight MH17 suffer? Following the Lockerbie disaster of 1988, in which my daughter Flora was among those murdered, we learnt that the answer was that loss of consciousness would be virtually instantaneous, from the moment that the fuselage depressurised.

When we commit ourselves to sit in a thinly clad metal fuselage travelling at about 500mph, some six miles above the earth, survival depends absolutely upon maintenance of a calm air pressure not too much different from that at sea level.

When the fuselage is suddenly disrupted, the instantaneous reduction of air pressure results in immediate loss of consciousness.

The bomb that destroyed the Lockerbie aircraft in 1988 held less than a pound of explosive. If it is confirmed that MH17 was hit by a Soviet-built Buk missile, the warhead would contain an explosive charge 140 times greater, adding to the certainty of immediate unconsciousness.

Some relatives will want to see the bodies of their loved ones, some will not. They should be given the choice, but in the knowledge that many bodies will be dismembered, and that any recognisably retrieved will show the bloated features of rapid depressurisation. In addition, a forensic examination will probably be required, and to perform this on so many victims will require remains to be preserved; so even a lock of hair is likely to be pungent with preservative.

Later will come the allegations and recriminations. Why did Malaysia Airlines overfly an area of conflict when some other airlines avoided it? Who provided the rocket, assuming it was hit by one? Who had the skills to organise the radar painting of the target? Who pressed the button?

There is no answer to the question: “Why did it have to be the aircraft with my loved ones aboard that was destroyed?” It is poignant for us Lockerbie relatives that the Dutch, who showed us so much kindness during the Lockerbie trial of two Libyans in 2000 near Utrecht, should now be so heavily wounded by this dreadful event.

An unusual feature after Lockerbie was the absence of credible claims of responsibility. This left the field open to the chicanery of international politics seeking to apportion blame. Relatives of MH17 victims should be cautious in assessing where guilt lies, for governments can massage apparent facts in ways which families may be unable to unravel.

The long-term consequences for relatives will cascade down the decades. It will be wise to seek professional help for post-traumatic stress disorder, and relationship and financial repercussions.

There is a small British charity called Disaster Action which, although not equipped to deal with the acute phase of an international disaster of this magnitude, does seek to support those affected, and draws on the experience of many such victims’ relatives.

Second Lockerbie air accident investigator speaks about MH17

[Another of the air accident investigators involved at Lockerbie has been talking about the MH17 crash. What follows is excerpted from an article in today’s edition of The Daily Telegraph:]

The painstaking process of investigating the Malaysian Airlines disaster will be made immeasurably more complicated by the crash site’s location in the middle of a country on the brink of civil war, experts said.

The investigation will require scrupulous mapping of debris - to help give a clear picture of how and why the fuselage broke up - followed by recovery of every piece of wreckage and possible forensic examination for traces of explosives.

Peter Claiden, who was a senior engineer in the AAIB investigation into the 1988 Lockerbie disaster, said: “There really needs to be a proper, professional investigation if they want to secure evidence from the wreckage.

“It was difficult enough to achieve at Lockerbie so the problems facing investigators in what is effectively a war zone are very serious indeed.”

Mr Claiden, who was responsible for reconstructing part of Pan Am Flight 103 after it was blown up mid-air above the Scottish town killing all 259 onboard and 11 on the ground, said: “The first problem will be to try to identify how widespread the wreckage is.

“They will need to find the infrastructure to take away the wreckage and store it safely.

“If the aircraft was destroyed by a missile, in an ideal world you must get all that wreckage and reassemble it. Then you might get an idea of the origin of the disaster.”

Air accident investigators must sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to establish the cause of a disaster - as in the case of Lockerbie which became Britain’s largest ever murder inquiry.

Part of the fuselage of Pan Am Boeing 747 - which exploded above Lockerbie in December 1988 - was reconstructed in a hangar in Farnborough, Hants, by the AAIB, where it remained for 24 years while diplomatic and legal machinations wore on.

The reconstruction was essential in proving Flight 103 broke up mid-air after the detonation of Semtex high explosive concealed in a Toshiba radio cassette recorder, which was contained in a Samsonite suitcase in the aircraft’s hold.

Fragments of the items, plus a long-delay electronic timer made by a Swiss firm, MEBO, were presented in the trial of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi held under Scottish law in Camp Zeist, the Netherlands, in 2000.