Luggage container was first Lockerbie clue

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A blackened luggage container recovered from the site of the Lockerbie disaster gave investigators the first real clue to what had happened, the Scottish Court in the Netherlands was told yesterday.

Tens of thousands of items, including personal property such as rings, watches, wallets and clothing, rained down on Lockerbie after Pan Am flight 103 was blown out of the sky. Each item was painstakingly recovered and examined for clues.

On the fourth day of the trial of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 48, and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44, who deny charges of murder, conspiracy to murder and breach of the 1982 Aviation Security Act, the court was told how various items, including charred pieces of the aircraft's luggage container, were found scattered across the country.

Officers were particularly looking for wreckage that they suspected may have been damaged by explosives, the court heard. Suitcases were examined by sniffer dogs for explosives amid fears of secondary devices. The trial continues.