CIA agent gives Lockerbie evidence

A former CIA double agent came out of hiding today to testify as the star witness in the trial of two alleged Libyan spies accused of destroying a Pan Am airliner in 1988. The former CIA mole, a 40-year-old Libyan man identified in court as "witness number 684: Abdul Majid Abdul Razkaz Abdul-Salam Giaka," took the stand behind a bulletproof glass wall in the sleek, computerized courtroom. As he spoke in Arabic, the witness told the court through an official translator that he preferred to be referred to has "Abdul Majid." His voice and face were scrambled on monitors in the public gallery. But he was in clear view of defendants Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah. Giaka, who defected to the United States in 1991, is expected to provide the strongest link yet between the defendants and the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people, mostly Americans. Giaka began his testimony by describing his upbringing and education in Tripoli, Libya, in response to quest

A former CIA double agent came out of hiding today to testify as the star witness in the trial of two alleged Libyan spies accused of destroying a Pan Am airliner in 1988. The former CIA mole, a 40-year-old Libyan man identified in court as "witness number 684: Abdul Majid Abdul Razkaz Abdul-Salam Giaka," took the stand behind a bulletproof glass wall in the sleek, computerized courtroom. As he spoke in Arabic, the witness told the court through an official translator that he preferred to be referred to has "Abdul Majid." His voice and face were scrambled on monitors in the public gallery. But he was in clear view of defendants Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah. Giaka, who defected to the United States in 1991, is expected to provide the strongest link yet between the defendants and the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people, mostly Americans. Giaka began his testimony by describing his upbringing and education in Tripoli, Libya, in response to questions from prosecutor Alastair Campbell. He also began describing his recruitment into the Libyan intelligence service. The defendants were put on trial before a special Scottish court on May 3, after being handed over by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 1999 to face mass murder charges at this neutral venue. Tuesday is the 50th day of hearings. Giaka's appearance has been delayed several times since mid-August. Defence attorneys have challenged CIA records of information he provided on their clients. The records, in the form of cables Giaka's handlers sent to CIA headquarters between 1988 and 1991, represented the first time the U.S. intelligence agency provided evidence to a foreign court. To fend off the defense motions, the CIA declassified extra cables and uncensored long passages in order satisfy the court that it had provided all evidence relevant to the case. The court now has a total of 61 cables, expected to become the focus of the coming week's testimony. Excerpts read aloud in court in recent weeks suggested that CIA handlers quickly began to have doubts about Giaka's claims to connections at the highest levels of Libyan intelligence. They threatened to cut off his dlrs 1000 monthly stipend unless he provided better information. Security at Camp Zeist, a former U.S. air base, has been stepped up in connection with the witness's appearance. Scottish police with flak jackets and submachine guns patrolled the perimeter of the encampment while vehicles entering the parking area were searched from top to bottom by police using explosives-sniffing dogs. According to the indictment, the defendants sent a unaccompanied Samsonite suitcase containing a Semtex plastic explosive from the Mediterranean island of Malta. Giaka, al-Megrahi and Fhima were nominally working for Libyan Arab Airlines on Malta as undercover agents for the Libyan Intelligence Service. The defendants have pleaded innocent to the murders of all 270 victims, as well as conspiracy to murder and endangering air safety. They have blamed the attack on Palestinian terrorist groups active in Europe at the time. Prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case within weeks, leaving the floor to the defence.