One Year Ago — Apartheid Foreign Minister Pik Botha Dies [Lockerbie Conspiracy]

“Had he known of the bomb, no force on earth would have stopped him from seeing to it that flight 103, with its deadly cargo, would not have left the airport. The minister is flattered by the allegation of near omniscience.”

Botha’s spokesman Roland Carroll

“Had we been on 103 the impact on South Africa and the region would have been massive. It happened on the eve of the signing of the tripartite agreements.”

Pretorius Official Statement

October 12 2018 — Pik Botha served as his country’s foreign minister for 17 years until the end of the apartheid era in 1994.  He died last night at the age of 86. The German newspaper Die Zeit claimed that Pik Botha intended to fly on Pan Am 103 but had been warned off. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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UPDATE (October 13 2019) — I now believe that there is no truth whatsoever to these conspiracy theories.

The Truth about Lockebie will disappoint many.

END of UPDATE

Several pieces of evidence suggest that the South Africa authorities knew in advance that the Boeing 747 which blew up over Lockerbie in southern Scotland on December 21 1988 was in danger.

A handful of senior South African officials including the then Foreign Minister Pik Botha cancelled bookings for the flight at short notice fuelling speculation that they had been tipped off about the bomb.

The suggestion was that there was a plot to assassinate Bernt Carlsson, the designated UN Commissioner for the newly independent Namibia, who died on the flight. (INTEL TODAY – Carlsson was rebooked on PA103 because he had been delayed by a meeting with De Beers officials in Brussels.)

Mr Botha confirmed that he had indeed been booked onto the flight and cancelled but described the theory as “absurd and far-fetched” pointing out that security agents did not know which flight he was on. (Telegraph)

Mr Botha flew on an earlier flight, Pan Am 101, which, unlike flight 103, had special security checks at Heathrow. No one has been able to definitively confirm or refute the Die Zeit story. (Guardian – Lockerbie conspiracies: from A to Z)

Sixteen days before the disaster, a man rang the US embassy in Helsinki, Finland, and warned of a bomb aboard a Pan Am aircraft flying from Frankfurt to the US. The 1990 US President’s Commission report on aviation security said that “thousands of US government employees saw the Helsinki threat”.

Not a single US worker at the Moscow embassy took flight Pan Am 103 from Frankfurt, a standard and popular route home for Christmas. But the British Department of Transport had told Pan Am in December that British intelligence dismissed the threat as “not real”.

Three days before the Helsinki threat, an intelligence source in the US state department’s office of diplomatic security warned that a team of Palestinians, not associated with the PLO, was targeting Pan Am airline and US military bases in Europe. The comment attached to the message read: “We cannot refute or confirm this”.

In 1994, Pik Botha denied he had been aware in advance of a bomb on board Pan Am Flight 103 which exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988 killing 270 people.

On November 12 1994, REUTERS issued a report titled: “South Africa minister denies knowing of Lockerbie bomb”.

The minister confirmed through his spokesman that he and his party had been booked on the ill-fated airliner but switched flights after arriving early in London from Johannesburg.

He was travelling with South African officials to negotiate peace in Namibia and Angola.

Botha was reacting to a report in The Scotsman newspaper on Saturday which said a documentary film The Maltese Double Cross alleged Botha, now South Africa’s energy minister, and security chiefs were warned of the bomb and did not travel.

“Had he known of the bomb, no force on earth would have stopped him from seeing to it that flight 103, with its deadly cargo, would not have left the airport,” Botha’s spokesman Roland Carroll told Reuters after consulting the minister. “The minister is flattered by the allegation of near omniscience.”

Gerrit Pretorius, at the time Botha’s private secretary, said the then foreign minister and 22 South African negotiators, including defence minister Magnus Malan and foreign affairs director Neil van Heerden, had been booked on flight 103. “But we…got to London an hour early and the embassy got us on to an earlier flight. When we got to JFK airport in New York a contemporary of mine said ‘Thank God you weren’t on 103. It crashed over Lockerbie'”, Pretorius told Reuters.

Darroll said that South African diplomats in the United States were convinced at the time that Botha and his team were on flight 103. He said the flight from Johannesburg arrived early in London after a Frankfurt stopover was cut out. “Had we been on 103 the impact on South Africa and the region would have been massive. It happened on the eve of the signing of the tripartite agreements,” said Pretorius, referring to pacts which ended South African and Cuban involvement in Angola and which led to Namibian independence.

British legislator Tam Dalyell said on Saturday he was going to screen the documentary on the bombing at the House of Commons after it was pulled out of a film festival for legal reasons.

The film by American Allan Francovich challenges the official British and US view that two Libyan agents alone planted a radio cassette bomb that killed everyone aboard the jumbo jet and 11 people in the small Scottish town. The Scotsman said the film claims the United States intelligence service CIA allowed Pan Am flights to be used for regular drug runs to gain leverage with Middle East guerrilla groups.

It said a former CIA agent says in the film he was asked to set up a ‘dirty tricks’ operation to implicate Libya in drug running. The paper said the bomb was unwittingly carried onto the flight from London to New York by suspected drug runner Khaled Jaafar, one of the 270 victims.

Allan Francovich: The Maltese Double-Cross – Lockerbie (1994) 

The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie is a documentary film about the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

Produced, written, and directed by Allan Francovich and financed by Tiny Rowland, the film was released by Hemar Enterprises in November 1994.

With a controversial premise, it was immediately threatened with legal action by lawyers acting for a US government official, and the British government prevented screenings at the 1994 London Film Festival, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and at several universities.

But Labour MP Tam Dalyell ignored libel warnings and went ahead and showed the film at the House of Commons on November 16, 1994.

Though it was never widely distributed, the film stirred up a great deal of controversy – particularly in the United Kingdom.

Reviews of the film in major UK publications were mostly negative, even as they said that the film revealed certain problems in the mainstream account of the Lockerbie bombing.

The film came in for fierce criticism from some American family members of victims of Pan Am 103 and from the governments of Britain and the United States. Other (mainly British) family members endorsed the conclusions of the film. [Wikipedia]

UPDATE (October 22 2018) — Retired High Court judge Chris Nicholson has  written an article — Pik’s Lockerbie mystery —  published on October 20 2018 in South Africa’s Saturday Star newspaper.

On January 11, 1989 [South African foreign minister Pik] Botha travelled to Stockholm in Sweden with other foreign dignitaries – including UN Secretary-general Javier Pérez de Cuéllar – for the funeral of the UN’S Commissioner for South-west Africa, Bernt Carlsson.

Botha was interviewed by Sue Macgregor on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, and alleged that he and a 22-strong South African delegation, who were booked to fly from London to New York on December 21, 1988, had been targeted by the ANC.

However, having been alerted to these ANC plans to kill him, Botha said he managed to outsmart them by taking the earlier Pan Am Flight 101 from Heathrow to JFK Airport, New York.

Despite having the knowledge, the question remains why he did not tell the airline security and alert the other passengers that their deaths were going to follow in a few minutes. Is there any other conclusion but that Botha was happy for them to go to their deaths?

(…)

The grave misgivings of the public about this tragedy persuaded a relative of a victim to write to retired South African MP Colin Eglin of the Democratic Party, asking him to make enquiries on the South African side. On June 5, 1996, Eglin asked Justice Minister Dullah Omar in Parliament if Pik Botha and his entourage “had any plans to travel on this flight (Pan Am Flight 103) or had reservations for this flight; if so, why were the plans changed?” In reply on June 12, 1996, Omar stated he had been informed by Botha that shortly before finalising their booking arrangements for travel from Heathrow to New York, they learnt of an earlier flight from London to New York, namely, Pan Am Flight 101. They were booked and travelled on this flight to New York.

Eglin wrote back on July 18, 1996, and added: “Since then I have done some more informal prodding. This has led me to the person who made the reservations on behalf of the South African foreign minister Pik Botha and his entourage. This person assures me that he and no one else was responsible for the reservations, and the reservation made in South Africa for the South African group was originally made on PA 101, departing London at 11:00 on 21 December 1988. It was never made on PA 103 and consequently was never changed. He made the reservation on PA 101 because it was the most convenient flight connecting with South African Airways Flight SA 234 arriving at Heathrow at 07:20 on 21 December 1988.”

Eglin gave the victim’s family the assurance that he had “every reason to trust the person referred to” as he had been given a copy of “rough working notes and extracts from his personal diary of those days”. In his letter Eglin wrote: “In the circumstances, I have to accept that an assertion that the reservations of the South African group were either made or changed as a result of warnings that might have been received is not correct.”

Could the “rough working notes” and the “personal diary of those days” have been fabricated to save Pik Botha’s skin from a most embarrassing and possibly criminal act? Two years before Eglin asked the questions in Parliament, Botha was contacted by the press and his replies were reported on a Reuters Textline of November 12, 1994, under the heading “South African Minister denies knowing of Lockerbie Bomb”.

The article said: “Former foreign minister Pik Botha denied on Saturday he had been aware in advance of a bomb on board Pan Am Flight 103 which exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988, killing 270 people. The minister confirmed through his spokesman that he and his party had been booked on the ill-fated airliner but switched flights after arriving early in London from Johannesburg.”

REFERENCES

Pik Botha: Key figure in South Africa’s apartheid transition dies — BBC

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Lockerbie Conspiracy — Apartheid Foreign Minister Pik Botha Dies

Lockerbie Conspiracy — Apartheid Foreign Minister Pik Botha Dies (UPDATE)

One Year Ago — Apartheid Foreign Minister Pik Botha Dies [Lockerbie Conspiracy]

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