Secret Lockerbie court held in Malta, newspaper claims

Jumbo jet fuselage showing bomb damage Prosecutors said the Lockerbie bomb was placed in Malta

The Crown Office has refused to comment on reports in Malta that a special closed court hearing was held there to gather new evidence about the Lockerbie bombing.

The Times of Malta said the hearing, last week, was held in conditions of secrecy.

It followed a formal request by Scottish prosecutors.

The newspaper said even peepholes in the courtroom door were blocked up to prevent proceedings being viewed.

'Travel logistics'

Malta was key to the Lockerbie trial, because it was there prosecutors said the bomb which exploded over the Scottish Borders was placed by the only man convicted of the crime, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

And a Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci, was the only witness to identify Megrahi as the man who he said bought several items of clothing which were later found wrapped around the bomb which destroyed Pan-Am Flight 103.

The newspaper reported several sources said the court was reviewing evidence connected to what it said were "travel logistics."

A number of witnesses were questioned by magistrate, Clair Stafrace Zammit.

Start Quote

This is a live investigation to bring to justice the others involved in this act of State sponsored terrorism.”

End Quote Crown Office spokesman

It followed "commission rogatoire" from Scotland - a diplomatic procedure where prosecutors ask colleagues in another country for judicial assistance, usually the gathering of evidence under oath.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "This is a live investigation to bring to justice the others involved in this act of state sponsored terrorism.

"Dumfries and Galloway police are working with US law enforcement in pursuit of lines of inquiry.

"In order to preserve the integrity of the investigation it would not be appropriate to offer further comment."

The Scottish Parliament's justice committee is due to discuss a petition on 25 September from campaigners demanding the Lockerbie case is re-examined in a public inquiry.

BBC Scotland understands the group, led by Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the 1988 bombing, claims to have substantial new evidence about what it sees as the mishandling of the prosecution case.

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