Lockerbie trial delayed while "unknown links" to bomb investigated

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The Independent Online

Defence lawyers have requested another delay in the Lockerbie bombing trial to investigate new information that could reveal who manufactured and planted the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103.

Defence lawyers have requested another delay in the Lockerbie bombing trial to investigate new information that could reveal who manufactured and planted the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103.

The trial of two libyans accused of the 1988 terrorist attack was postponed for a fourth week after less than an hour of hearings, and was scheduled to reconvene in one week.

Disclosing a few details of the mysterious information that has repeatedly delayed the trial, defense attorney Bill Taylor said investigators were interviewing witnesses in the Middle East, the United States, Germany and an unnamed European country. A request to subpoena a number of those people may be made this week, he said.

"The information establishes hitherto unknown links" to a Palestinian group called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

"It purports to provide information as to the manufacture of the bomb and to give an explanation how that bomb got on the plane," Taylor said.

He said that Serbo-Croatian translator was needed to help with the interviews, but he didn't say if potential witnesses actually come from the former Yugoslavia.

He also said the reliability of the material needed to be verified.

Hearings have been stalled since prosecutors and later defense lawyers, were provided with 90 volumes of new information from two unidentified foreign countries.

The defense said the "sensitive and complicated" information could have a material bearing on this case.

The accused, alleged Libyan intelligence agents, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah are charged with the murder of 270 people when Pan Am 103 blew up over Lockerbie Scotland on Dec. 21, 1988.

Their indictment says they tagged an explosives-packed suitcase in 0 Malta airport to Frankfurt, Germany, which was then loaded onto the New York-bound jetliner.

The defendants have pleaded innocent and said Palestinian terrorists were responsible for the attack.

Taylor told the panel of Scottish judges at a special court in the Netherlands that solicitors were urgently working to track down the individuals needed to produce evidence.

Interviews will be conducted in Washington Tuesday and Wednesday and six or seven other witnesses have been or will be interviewed in Germany, he said. More meetings were being held this week in Middle East, he said.

Prosecutors said they hope to call their remaining witness when the trial resumes. He is Mohammed Abu Talb, a Palestinian serving a jail sentence in Sweden for terrorist attacks on Jewish and U.S. targets in Europe.