Lockerbie lawyer says 'evidence' is fantasy

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A crucial prosecution witness in the Lockerbie bombing trial was accused of being a fantasist after defence lawyers asked him if he was familiar with the literary figure Walter Mitty.

A crucial prosecution witness in the Lockerbie bombing trial was accused of being a fantasist after defence lawyers asked him if he was familiar with the literary figure Walter Mitty.

Abdul Majid Giaka, a former CIA double agent in Libya, was also asked by lawyers acting for the two Libyans accused of bombing Pan Am flight 103 whether he had decided how to spend a $4m (£2.7m) reward put up by the United States government.

Mr Giaka, 40, came under renewed attack on the 52nd day of the trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands for allegedly fabricating key parts of his testimony to satisfy his CIA handlers and justify his continued payments from the CIA and other US agencies.

According to lawyers acting for Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah and Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who are accused of planting the bomb that killed 270 people on the Boeing 747 and in Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, Mr Giaka is a liar.

On Wednesday, the lawyers alleged that Mr Giaka had fabricated evidence that he saw the men with the suitcase used for the bomb, saw Mr Fhimah's desk drawer packed with explosives and had discussed the bombing plot in person with Mr Al Megrahi.

These claims were only made, they claimed, after his CIA controllers began to lose patience and threatened to end his privileged status as a paid informant, getting $1,000 a month, under protection in the United States.

His most damning allegations about the defendants were made in late 1991, nearly three years after the bombing, when he was taken on boardan American warship off Malta and after repeated warnings that the CIA did not believehe was up to scratch as aninformant.

Accused of being little more than a car maintenance man for Libyan intelligence, Mr Giaka was also questioned on Wednesday about his claims to be related to King Idris of Libya, and that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, and other senior Libyan officials were actually Freemasons.

Closing his cross-examination yesterday, Richard Keen, acting for Mr Fhimah, asked: "While you have been in America, have you been able to dip into gems of American literature, such as their short story writers like James Thurber?" He added: "Have you encountered someone called Mitty, first name Walter?" In Thurber's 1947 story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the title character is a meek, hen-pecked husband who escapes his everyday existence with heroic delusions.

"I've read some books but not all authors," Mr Giaka answered dryly in Arabic, through electronic voice and image scramblers used to protect his identity.

Mr Keen then asked: "Have you made any plans of how you would spend the $4m reward if the accused in this case are convicted?" Mr Giaka replied that this was "rubbish". He added: "I did not have any promises of any award whatsoever, at all, not even once. You can ask the government, the US government."

The court later heard from FBI and CIA witnesses that Mr Giaka had received a total of $110,800 in witness compensation from the FBI since his defection in 1988 and another $30,130 from the CIA. He may have received additional compensation from other US agencies, the court was told.

The trial continues.