October 29 2022 — Tony Gauci (6 April 1944 – 29 October 2016) was one of the many proprietors of Mary’s House, a clothes shop in Tower Road, Sliema, Malta. Gauci was the most important witness at the Lockerbie trial. In 2007, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC Ref 23:19) found that US$2 million had been paid to Tony Gauci and US$1 million to Paul Gauci under the US Department of Justice “Rewards for Justice” programme. Many experts believe that Tony Gauci’s memory was not reliable. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
RELATED POST: Remembering Lockerbie — Pan Am 103 Quotes
I had the opportunity to ask the opinion of two experts on eyewitness and memory.
Elizabeth F. Loftus is a Distinguished Professor of Social Ecology and Professor of Law and Cognitive Science at University of California, Irvine. Her research has demonstrated that people can be led to develop rich false memories for events that never happened. She has lectured to the FBI as well as the secret service, the CIA and other law enforcement agencies.
Tim Valentine is Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Both Professor Loftus and Valentine have studied the statements made by Tony Gauci, the only eyewitness of the Lockerbie case who ‘identified’ Megrahi.
Both Professor Loftus and Valentine have serious doubts about the accuracy of Gauci’s statements.
David Canter is Professor of Psychology at the University of Huddersfield and the author of Investigative Psychology: Offender Profiling and the Analysis of Criminal Action. Canter came to the conclusion that Gauci “shows the classic signs of having come to believe in something that never happened.”
“The evidence in court many years later still gives the impression of confident clear memories. But the earlier statements put these in different light. For instance, Mr Gauci initially claimed the man bought no shirts, but ten years later said in court that he had. In early statements he said that the purchase was well before Christmas as there were no Christmas lights in the shop, but by the time he came to give evidence in court the lights were clearly present.
Whole volumes have been written in recent years on how readily people can come to believe that they remembered things that never occurred but which were actually suggested to them in earlier interviews. There is no simple relationship between how confident a person is in what he thinks he remembers and how accurate that memory is. Yet this psychological truth was ignored by the court that convicted al-Megrahi.”
INTEL TODAY would like to know what you think. Please, take this poll and encourage your friends to participate.
PS — Allow me to remind you that there is ZERO evidence of a bomb having caused the tragedy of Pan Am 103. I have summarized all my research on this subject in a single graphic.
I have come to the only reasonable conclusion compatible with the facts. Pan Am Flight 103 disintegrated in flight over Lockerbie because of a massive structural failure due to well-known issues of metal fatigue in section 41 and 42 of the Boeing 747 (Series 100 & 200), not because of an explosive device.
The pieces of the aircraft recovered near Torbeckhill — not described in the declassified documents — almost certainly explained what caused the tragic chain of events.
Lockerbie — Three Decades of Lies: J’Accuse…!
QUICK NOTES — To make it easier for the readers to retrieve various chapters of my book, I have created a special page “Lockerbie” where all the links to the chapters will be listed with a brief description. You can access that page directly as it appears at the far right of the top bar of this blog.
Lockerbie — Three Decades of Lies: J’Accuse…!
According to evidence given at the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial in 2000, Gauci sold the clothes allegedly wrapped around the improvised explosive device (IED) that brought the aircraft down.
He was the only witness to link Abdelbaset al-Megrahi directly to the IED, and was therefore instrumental in convicting Megrahi on 31 January 2001. Gauci died on 29 October 2016 in Malta at the age of 75
Gauci pointed at Abdelbaset al-Megrahi as the man who had bought the clothes from his Sliema shop, which were said to have been wrapped around the bomb which killed 270 people over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988.
In 2008 the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC Ref 23:19) found that US$2 million had been paid to Tony Gauci and US$1 million to Paul Gauci under the US Department of Justice “Rewards for Justice” programme. The SCCRC also concluded that Gauci was not a reliable witness.
“Libyan national Al-Megrahi died in 2012 with the tag ‘the Lockerbie bomber’ despite the fact that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission had described Mr Gauci as an unreliable witness, putting the onus of the responsibility of the UK’s worst terrorist attack in doubt.
The SCCRC said the Crown prosecution suppressed from Megrahi’s defence team statements showing how much Gauci changed his mind about crucial details over the years.”
Five years after the trial, former Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, publicly described Gauci as being “an apple short of a picnic” and “not quite the full shilling”.
After conducting a four-year review of the case, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) reported on 28 June 2007 that there may have been a miscarriage of justice in Megrahi’s case, and granted him a second appeal against conviction.
The SCCRC also revealed that Gauci had been interviewed 17 times by Scottish and Maltese police during which he gave a series of inconclusive statements. In addition, a legal source said that there was evidence that leading questions had been put to Gauci.
It was clear from the SCCRC’s report that the lack of reliability of Gauci’s testimony as a key prosecution witness was the main reason for the referral of Megrahi’s case back to the Appeal Court.
Tony Gauci’s ‘Memories’
Doubts have been raised about his reliability. On 28 June 2007, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission ruled that there were six grounds for a second appeal against conviction.
The SCCRC concluded:
“There is no reasonable basis in the trial court’s judgment for its conclusion that the purchase of the items [clothes that were found in the wreckage of the plane] from Mary’s House [in Malta] took place on 7 December 1988.” [WIKIPEDIA]
The ‘December 7 1988’ date was critical because it was the only possible day for Megrahi to have bought these clothes in Malta.
The SCCRC also said:
“Evidence which cast doubt on Gauci’s identification of Megrahi had not been made available to the defence, a breach of rules designed to ensure a fair trial.”
“In particular, it said there was evidence that four days before he identified Megrahi, Gauci had seen a photograph of him in a magazine article about the bombing.” [BBC]
Here are some of my own findings regarding Gauci’s testimony which were published in 2009.
A Dubious Identification
On Nov. 18, 1991, the US Dept. of State issued a “fact sheet” regarding the indictment of Libyan citizens Megrahi and Fimah for their alleged role in the bombing of Pan Am 103 on Dec. 21, 1988.
The sheet reads: In February 1991, Megrahi was described “resembling the Libyan who purchased the clothing items… most likely on Dec. 7, 1988.”
On Feb. 15, 1991, Gauci was shown some photographs and failed to identify Megrahi. When asked to concentrate on his picture – a leading procedure to say the least — Gauci correctly pointed out that the man on the picture was in his 30s while maintaining that the man who had bought the clothing items was very much older.
Previously, on Sept. 13, 1989, during a photofit session, Gauci stated that the buyer was about 50 years old. Born on April 1, 1952, Megrahi was 36 in late 1988. The next day, Gauci again told Detective Chief Inspector Bell that Megrahi was too young to be the man who bought the clothing.
“If the man in the photograph was older by about 20 years, he would look like the man who bought the clothing,” Gauci told DCI Bell.
In his first interview held on Sept. 1, 1989, Gauci told DCI Bell that the mysterious buyer was 6 feet tall or more. Megrahi is 5 feet 8, a significant discrepancy considering that it comes from a man who sells clothes for a living.
The trial judges were well aware of this striking discrepancy but they failed to provide any explanation as to how it was resolved.
A Fraudulent Line-Up
During an identity parade held at Camp Zeist in 1999, Gauci pointed out that Megrahi resembles the man who bought the clothing items.
In the line up, Megrahi was the only Libyan and was surrounded by people in their 30s and 5 feet 3 tall, i.e. people who at the time of the event would have been about 30 years younger and at least 9 inches shorter than the person originally and repeatedly described by Gauci.
Regarding the day of the purchase, Tony Gauci remembered that his brother Paul had gone home earlier to watch an evening football game (Rome vs. Dresden), that the man came just before closing time, around 7 p.m., and that there was some very light raining. (The man returned to the shop to buy an umbrella.) The game allows for only two dates: Nov. 23 or Dec. 7, 1988.
The game Rome-Dresden on Dec. 7 was played at 1 p.m., not in the evening. As a result, Paul Gauci thought that the purchases had occurred on Nov. 23, 1988.
And there is more. It did not rain on Sliema on Dec. 7, 1988. Mark Vella, the managing director of METEO-MALTA, told the author that their records – including satellite pictures — unambiguously indicate that it did not rain on Sliema on Dec. 7. On the other hand, Vella could confirm that it was dripping during the evening of Nov. 23, 1988. (NB. Official copies of their records are available.)
When asked to try to assess the most likely day of the purchase by DCI Bell, Tony Gauci stated: “I’ve been asked to again try and pinpoint the day and date that I sold the man the clothing. I can only say it was a weekday. There were no Christmas decorations up, as I have already said, and I believe it was at the end of November.”
During a three years long investigation, the SCCRC has established that the Christmas lights are put up in Sliema on Dec. 6, ruling out Dec. 7 as the date of the purchase.
The defense has identified a person, not heard at the trial, who witnessed the purchase of the clothing items. Although he has not been named by the defense, I understand that the witness is David Wright, a longtime friend of the Gauci family.
Wright told the police in September and December 1989 that the purchase occurred Nov. 23 and that the buyer was not Megrahi. His interview was not passed to the defense team at the time of the trial.
During the first session of the appeal, which, there will be no new witnesses. “Any new witnesses, if the Appeal Court allows them to be heard — and the rules about fresh evidence in appeals are very restrictive — will only feature in later sessions,” writes Pr. Black.
In a phone interview conducted on Jan. 25, 2008, Tony Gauci stated that the three pairs of pajamas he sold to the mysterious buyer were the last from the 16 delivered from the John Mallia Company on Oct. 31, 1988.
On the following day, Tony Gauci called the Mallia Company to order an additional 8 pairs which were delivered 24 hours later.
In Malta, Dec. 8 is a public holiday as the mostly Catholic country celebrates Immaculate Conception Day. As a matter of fact, John Mallia Co. was closed on Dec. 8, again ruling out Dec. 7 as the day of the purchase.
According to a well informed source, the defense will establish that contradictory statements made by Gauci were not passed to the defense team at the Zeist trial.
The defense will also establish that the Gauci brothers were paid a large amount of money in exchange for helping the conviction of Megrahi and that the defense had not been informed regarding the payments themselves or the promise of rewards.
The Slalom Shirts
Although it has not yet been announced, I understand that the defense will also question the origin of the Slalom shirts alleged to have been sold by Tony Gauci to the mysterious buyer.
This issue is of paramount importance as forensic experts claimed to have discovered in the collar of one of these shirts the fragment of an electronic timer which provided the key link between the bombing and Libya. (NB. This writer has never quite understood how the size of the breast pocket did not match the size of the collar of the shirt recovered at Lockerbie, but that is another story.)
During his first interview with DCI Bell, Tony Gauci made a list of the items he had sold to the mysterious buyer. The list matched exactly the items that forensic experts at RARDE believed to have been in direct contact with the bomb, except for a black umbrella that they eventually “identify”. On that day – Sept. 1, 1989 — Gauci made no mention of the Slalom shirts.
On Jan. 30, 1990, Gauci was shown a SLALOM shirt and was asked if he had sold one to the mysterious buyer. “That man did not buy any shirt, I am sure,” Gauci stated to the investigators.
Then, on Sept. 10, 1990, Gauci suddenly recalled selling two Slalom shirts. It is not just odd, but contradicts a statement Gauci made on his first interview and repeated at the trial.
During his first interview, Gauci told DCI Bell that he remembered that the bill amounted to 76.5 Maltese pounds (LM). Gauci even clearly remembered that the man paid him with eight 10 LM bills, and that he returned 4 LM as he was not able to give a half pound in change.
Quite logically, DCI Bell then asked him to check the price of all the items he had just mentioned. And, lo and behold, the sum added to 76.5 LM… without any Slalom shirt. Had Gauci sold two shirts to the mysterious buyer, the bill would have been 84.5 LM.
Obviously, if the SLALOM shirt is a fabrication, so must be the items discovered inside it, including the infamous fragment of the MST-13 timer.
In a recent book, Former Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill had written that “clothes in the suitcase that carried the bomb were acquired in Malta, though not by Megrahi…”
In April 2002, McCulloch –a former detective chief superintendent with Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary — wrote to the US Department of Justice to recommend that Tony Gauci and his brother Paul receive a reward of $3m because ‘the pair fitted the criteria for its Reward for Justice programme’.
“All proceedings were complete before I nominated the Gauci brothers for consideration.”
The ‘SLALOM’ Shirt
PT/35(b) — the infamous timer fragment linking Lockerbie to Libya — was discovered in the collar (PI/995) of a grey “Slalom” shirt, which Tony Gauci allegedly sold to Megrahi. That story is not free of anomalies either.
Dr Hayes examined PK/339 and PK/1973 on May 22 1989. PK/1978 was examined on October 10 1989. PK/1978 was found in/with an item tagged PK/1359
Now, please take a good look at the description of PK/1978. (as well as PK/1359)
It is no easy to confuse a shirt with a trouser… And, even though I am not a linguist, I would think that “MELTED” would better apply to a “SLALOM” trouser (the kind that people use for skiing in Europe at that time of the year) than to a shirt. What exactly is melted in PK/1978 anyway?
Now, allow me to share with you some basic observations about PK/339. Here is a control sample of a similar shirt. (Dr Hayes p 153)
And here is the first examination by Dr Hayes of PK/339.
I suggest a few anomalies.
To start with the obvious, I notice that Dr. Hayes had initially written: ” No IED fragments recovered”. Then, he goes on to describe the “frags” he recovered..
Less obvious is the length of the material: 320 mm. However, under close inspection, it appears that the 3 was initially a 5.
Here is a magnified view of “320 mm”.
Last but not least, let us pay attention to the “buttonholes”. You can see two of them. Then, about 10 cm below, you will notice a third hole, exactly at the right distance where you might expect another buttonhole. Question: is it or not a buttonhole?
Who cares? Well, here is the issue. It is or it is not a buttonhole.
Now, if it is a buttonhole, we have a problem. Because we have 4 of them under the pocket (3 on PK/339 as well as one on PK/1978) and this shirt should only have three of them.
But, if it is not a buttonhole, the length of the shirt under the last buttonhole is much too long.
What do you conclude from all this nonsense?
Tony Gauci on al-Megrahi
A video program highlighting inconsistencies regarding key evidence against the convicted “Lockerbie bomber.”
Shopkeeper Tony Gauci describes a man unlike Megrahi in almost every physical way, and describes a day of purchase when it could not have been Megrahi.
The mystery of the judges’ acceptance of Gauci’s evidence as relevant to Megrahi is a mystery the video cannot and does not resolve.
Maltese man who determined Lockerbie bombing trial dies— Times of Malta
On This Day — Lockerbie Key Witness Dies (October 29 2016)