Tony Gauci, key Maltese Lockerbie witness, dies

Gauci had played a vital role in the trial of Abdelbaset al-Megrah, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, but doubts later emerged as to whether he had been paid for his assistance in securing the Libyan's conviction.

Tony Gauci, the Maltese man who identified Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi as the Lockerbie bomber has died, after an illness.

Gauci had played a vital role in the trial of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, singling out al-Megrahi as having bought clothes, linked to the suitcase containing the bomb which destroyed Pan Am Flight 103, from his Sliema shop.

All 270 passengers and crew perished in the explosion over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988.

The evidence tendered by Gauci, who lived in Swieqi, was vital in linking Megrahi to the bomb that had been loaded on to flight 103.

But in the intervening years, serious doubts were cast on Gauci’s testimony.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission had described Gauci as an unreliable witness. It later emerged that the SCCRC said the Crown prosecution had witheld statements showing the extent to which Gauci had changed his mind about crucial details over the years from Megrahi’s defence team .

Maltese officers revealed Gauci was unsure, was coached and told to age the photos by ten to 15 years.  

Documents later published purported to reveal that the lead investigator in the Lockerbie bombing had personally lobbied the US authorities to pay at least $3 million to Gauci and his brother Paul for their assistance Al-Megrahi's conviction. One memo reportedly revealed how the FBI and Scottish police had discussed an offer of unlimited cash to Gauci – with “$10,000 available immediately”. Paul was never called as a witness.

That the brothers accepted any money was never confirmed, but the fact that an offer was made detracted from the credibility of Tony Gauci, who became the lynchpin of the case. 

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