Lockerbie key witness 'peddled fantasies'

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The Independent Online

The prosecution's star witness in the Lockerbie trial produced "evidence" about the Pan Am bombing a day after his CIA masters threatened to cut him off without a penny "unless he came up with something", the court heard yesterday.

The prosecution's star witness in the Lockerbie trial produced "evidence" about the Pan Am bombing a day after his CIA masters threatened to cut him off without a penny "unless he came up with something", the court heard yesterday.

Until then Abdul Majid Giaka had been "peddling fantasies" and pocketing $1,000 a month as a CIA informer. One of his main contributions had been to claim Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, was involved in a Masonic conspiracy with the President of Malta to destabilise the West.

CIA papers produced at the Scottish court sitting at Camp Zeist, in the Netherlands, showed Mr Giaka told his handlers he was related to Idris, the deposed king of Libya. In fact, Mr Giaka, 40, was no more than a car maintenance man in the Libyan secret service and had no connections with the late king, defence lawyers said. Under cross-examination Mr Giaka said the aggrandisement of his position was due to misapprehension by the CIA.

Mr Giaka, now living under the US Federal Witness programme, is the key witness in the trial of Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah and Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed Al Megrahi, charged with planting the bomb that destroyed Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, killing all 270 people on board. The defendants deny conspiracy to murder and a breach of the 1982 Aviation Security Act.

Mr Giaka is the only witness to link the defendants to the bomb placed on the plane in a Samsonite suitcase.

The court heard he was forever dreaming of scams to milk more funds from the CIA. But by 1989 it was losing patience. A cable recommended his contract be ended unless he delivered useful information. A CIA document said: "Giaka was procrastinating ... We will want to ensure Giaka understands what is expected of him and what he can expect from us."

Mr Giaka was said to have been devastated. His wife was pregnant and he was worried about his future. A CIA cable to its headquarters said: "He has no intention of returning to Libya and prefers not to remain in Malta, where he believes his life is in danger."

The CIA set up a meeting for Mr Giaka with the Department of Justice in Washington, which was investigating the bombing. Within 24 hours he claimed he had evidence of complicity by Mr Fhimah and Mr Megrahi. He said he and Mr Megrahi had discussed placing an unaccompanied case on a flight and that he had seen both him and Mr Fhimah with the Samsonite case. He also said he had seen Mr Fhimah's desk drawer at Luqa airport, Malta, where he worked, packed with explosives. It was the first time in his two-year association with the CIA that Mr Giaka had mentioned knowing about the Pan Am bombing.

William Taylor QC, acting for Mr Megrahi, said: "Your only hope for your wife and child was this meeting with the Department of Justice. Come up with something and the future is rosy, come up with nothing and you're cut off with nothing, tossed back to Malta There has been two years of deafening silence on this from you but the very next day you came up with the invention about the Samsonite suitcase."

At one stage yesterday Mr Giaka was asked six times how he knew Colonel Gaddafi was a Mason. He refused to name his source because it would jeopardise the person's life. The four judges agreed he should not be forced to do so.

The trial continues.