Scotland

Lockerbie bomber Megrahi 'visited Malta for sex'

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi
Image caption Megrahi, pictured in 1992, is said to have travelled to Malta secretly to see his mistress

The Libyan jailed for life following the 1988 Lockerbie bombing told investigators he travelled to Malta regularly to have sex.

Prosecutors said the bomb which destroyed Pan-Am Flight 103 was in a suitcase loaded on the island.

Previously secret documents, seen by BBC Scotland, detail the explanations of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, 59, for his presence on Malta.

They also suggest he could travel there without a passport or identification.

The Mediterranean island was key to the case which saw Megrahi convicted, in January 2001, of murdering 270 people in the bombing.

Megrahi was returned to Libya on compassionate grounds in August 2009 after serving 10 years of a life sentence; he has inoperable prostate cancer.

He has always maintained his innocence, and an investigation by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) found he may have suffered from a miscarriage of justice.

Its 821-page report has never been published, but it has now been seen by BBC Scotland.

Identified

It details Megrahi's statement, known as a precognition, given to defence lawyers before his trial in which he talked about how easy it was for him to travel between Libya and Malta.

"As a Libyan Arab Airlines employee and as someone well known, both at Tripoli airport and at the airport in Malta," he told the lawyers, "I could get away with not using a passport or an identification card at all, but simply by wearing my Libyan Arab Airlines uniform.

"This may sound ridiculous but it is true.

"If I wanted to do something clandestine in such a way that there would be absolutely no record at all of me going from Tripoli to Malta and back again, I could do it."

A Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci, identified Megrahi as the man to whom he sold clothes which were later found in a suitcase which had contained the bomb.

He said Megrahi visited his shop, Mary's House, on 7 December 1988.

Controversy has surrounded that date - and was one of the reasons why the SCCRC sent the case back to the Appeal Court.

But defence lawyers realised if the original trial had known how easily Megrahi could travel undetected to Malta it could have strengthened the prosecution case.

The SCCRC document says: "If the applicant (Megrahi) had spoken to this in evidence it would have removed the need for the Crown to establish the date of purchase of the items from Mary's House as 7 December 1988."

SCCRC investigators who interviewed Megrahi in Greenock Prison discovered he had a mistress in Malta whom he may have visited twice in December 1988 - including the night before the bombing.

He told them he could not have sex with his wife.

"It was possible therefore that the reason for his visit to Malta on 20 December was to meet a woman for this purpose," the SCCRC report said.

"The woman in question was the same one that he had suggested he might have met during his visit to Malta on 7 December.

"He had had sexual relations with her on a number of occasions over several years, until 1989 or 1990."

Megrahi was given just three months to live when he was released from prison in Scotland in August 2009.

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