lockerbie bombing cover-up allegations to be broadcast

Relatives of those who died at Lockerbie are far from satisfied with the official version of events. Eddie Gibb talks to Jim Swire, whose daughter was aboard the plane, about the alternative explanation offered in a new documentary.

A controversial investigative documentary about the Lockerbie bombing in which nearly 300 people died is to be shown in public for the first time on Channel 4.

Allan Francovich‘s film The Maltese Daub/e Crass has previously orin been 1 shown privately because of concerns ' that a public screening could amount to contempt of court. which led to the documeritary‘s withdrawl from the London Film Festival last year. The two Libyans. Abdel Basset Ali AI- Merrahi and Lamin Khalifa Fhima. accused of carrying out the bombing of Pan Am Flight l03 in December I988 are still awaiting trial if they can be extradited.

Channel 4 has drastically edited the four-hour film down to 90 minutes. ‘The film that was to be shown at the London Film Festival was less coherent.‘ said a Channel 4 spokeswoman. ‘The Channel 4 version has ironed out any potential legal problems but it‘s also a stronger film.‘

Francovich's film rejects the official explanation supported by the British and US governments which accuses the two Libyans of acting alone. In The Maltese Daub/e (.‘mss. Francovitch alleges that the US government had been expecting an attack to avenge the American air force‘s downing of the Iranian airbus in I988. The film also questions whether a key piece of forensic evidence discovered at the crash scene believed to be a fragment

of the bomb timer can be regarded as ' incontrovertible proof of Libyan involvement.

British and American intelligence agents received several detailed tip-offs about the Pan-Am bombing but failed to act to safeguard passengers‘ safety. according to evidence produced in the documentary. Instead they allegedly


embarked on a huge cover-up exercise. aided by the British government‘s refusal to allow a full independent inquiry. which prevented families of the bombs victims. both on the plane and in Lockerbie. from discovering the truth.

In effect. argues Francovitch. Flight 103 was sacri freed by the intelligence services as the price for allowing the

‘At the very least, you have to say that it’s not right that intelligence services, who are expected to protect ordinary citizens, should not be the subject of an inquiry.’

.~\merican/Iran diplomatic relations to be restored after the airbus bombing. The American government‘s ; demonisation of Gadaffi of Libya ' would make the two men accused of

the bombing plausible scapegoats. he says.

Dr Jim Swire. whose daughter Flora was on board the plane. is a spokesman : for UK Families -- Flight I03 which has5 tirelessly questioned the official 5 explanation for the bombing. Swire. I

who is interviewed in the film. is keeping an open mind about Francovitch‘s theory. but he is convinced that there has been an elaborate cover-up by the British government. ‘I’m satisfied that intelligence services in Britain and America had received multiple warnings.‘ he says. ‘lfso why did they do nothing about it? It's extremely enticing to believe the Francovitch version but I have no way of proving it. But I don‘t believe it was incompetence I think it was something much more sinister.‘

So how did the bombing actually happen? According to an American intelligence source quoted in the film. the US Drugs Intelligence Agency was operating ‘controlled drug runs‘ from the Lebanon to the US via Malta and Frankfurt in an attempt to track down a major drug-importing ring. This involved arranging for bags to bypass police and customs checks on the way to the US. But the operation had been infilatrated by Iranian-backed terrorists. giving the bomb. which Francovitch believes started its journey in Frankfurt. a clear passage through security checks.

Swire is aware that talking about

Al-Merrahl and Fhima: were the two libyans accused of the lockerbie bombing made scapegoats?

conspiracy theories linking drugs. international terrorism and US intelligence is the stuff of airport- lounge paperbacks. But he himself has gathered first-hand evidence of a cover- up by British secuirty services. whose role was never questioned during the fatal accident inquiry following the bombing. ‘At the very least. You have to say that it‘s not right that intelligence services, who are expected to protect ordinary citizens. should not be the subject of an inquiry.‘ he says. ‘Whether Francovich is right or wrong about the Libyans‘ involvement. they were clearly minnows in the pond.‘ Swire accepts the relatives‘ group is no match for the security services. but hopes that the campaign by UK Families Flight 103 will keep the story alive. and maintain pressure on the British government to come clean. ‘If there is atrial at all.‘ he says. ‘I think the case against the two Libyans would collapse. and then people will start asking who the hell did it.‘ The Maltese Daub/e (‘mss is shown an 'I‘harsr/ay l / May at 9. 30pm on Channel 4. Jim Shire takes part in a live television debate on t/tefilm immediately afterwards.

I Volunteer force Body Shop boss Anita Roddick has teamed up with volunteer agency CSV to start a new voluntary programme aimed at young unemployed people. The projects include working with the homeless. elderly and mentally ill. Volunteers. who must be aged between 16—35. will work away from home for up to a year and will receive food. accommodation and pocket money. Call freephone 0800 : 37499] for details. I Brunton bonus After losing its Scottish Arts Council grant earlier this year. Musselburgh‘s Brunton Theatre

has received a £330.000 windfall from the European Regional Development

Fund to assist with refurbishment work. Work is due to start on the theatre shortly. Meanwhile the Brunton‘s ‘fair funding‘ campaign to have its Arts Council grant reinstated continues.

I Theatre crisis Members of the Edinburgh Festival Theatre trust have warned that the cash crisis threatening the prestigious new venue. which opened last year. is ‘very real‘. The council‘s overdraft facility runs out later this month. and the trust. which is headed by former Tory cabinet minister Lord Younger. is looking for new sources of funding. According to the theatre. box-office targets have been exceeded. and the cash crisis relates to the cost of renovating the building.

I Taking T The first bands have been

announced for the second T in the Park outdoor rock festival in Strathclyde Country Park near Glasgow. Already confirmed are: The Beautiful South. Boo Radleys. Echobelly. Goya Curtis. Menswear. M-People and The Prodigy. This year‘s two-day event is on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 August. with ()0 acts expected. Tickets are £25 per day or £45 for a weekend pass.

I Walk of life It‘s that time of year when people pester their office colleagues to sponsor them to walk/ cycle/play tiddlywinks in aid of charity. For those looking for a fund-raising excuse to get some fresh air. here are a couple of sponsored events: Friends of the Earth Scotland is holding ‘Bike to the Future III‘ on successive Sundays.

4 June (Glasgow) and II June (Edinburgh). For details of how to take part contact Stuart Gibson on ()l3I 554 9977. AIDS and HIV charity Cr‘usaid is aiming to raise £30,000 from its series

of sponsored walks around Scotland. including both Glasgow and

Edinburgh. on Sunday 4 June. For details call freephone 0800 374437

I Berlin rock Three Edinburgh bands will get the chance to play live on television to at Berlin audience using an ISDN cable link. The three groups from Jewel and Esk Valley College are Big Girl‘s Blouse. Where‘s Adam and Dirge..The link has been set up by the Institute of Local Television which is I also involved in attempts to bring local programmes to Scotland on Channel 5.1

The List 5-l8 May I995 5