Thomas Thurman

In the late 1980s and for most of the 1990s, James Thomas Thurman was employed at the FBI forensics laboratory, which investigated explosives-related crimes. In written reports or giving evidence in court, Thurman would describe himself as an "explosives forensic expert" although it eventually transpired that he had no formal scientific qualifications. [ [ Thurman's integrity questioned] ]

He left the FBI lab in 1997.

Inspector-General's Report

In his 1997 report the US Inspector General, Michael Bromwich, criticized Thurman for altering laboratory reports in such a way that rendered subsequent prosecution pointless. Following this criticism, Thurman was assigned to duties outside the FBI lab and, as a result, was not to be called in any trial as an expert witness. ["The FBI Laboratory: An Investigation into Laboratory Practices and Alleged Misconduct in Explosives-Related and Other Cases" (DOJ, April 1997) - Report by Inspector General Michael Bromwich] After leaving the FBI, Thurman joined the faculty at the School of Criminal Justice, Eastern Kentucky University.

Forensic investigator

Thomas Thurman was said to have played a crucial role in leading the investigation of both Pan Am Flight 103 and UTA Flight 772 bombings to the door of the Libyan regime. He was accused by French investigative journalist, Pierre Péan, of conspiring to incriminate Libya in an article published in March 2001, just after the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial had ended with the conviction of Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi on the strength of just one piece of hard evidence: a tiny fragment of a timing device manufactured by the Swiss firm Mebo. Two years earlier, six Libyans were tried in absentia and convicted in 1999 by a Paris court for the UTA Flight 772 bombing. Péan claimed there was something wrong::"It is striking to witness the similarity of the discoveries, by the FBI, of the scientific proof of the two aircraft that were sabotaged: the Pan Am Boeing 747 and the UTA DC-10. Among the thousands or rather tens of thousands of pieces of debris collected near the crash sites, just one PCB fragment was found in each case, which carried enough information to allow its identification: Mebo for the Boeing 747 and "TY" (from Taiwan) for the DC-10." [ [ "Les preuves trafiquées du terrorisme libyen" by Pierre Péan (Le Monde diplomatique)] ]

In 1989, Thurman had conducted test explosions in the US, when he used metal baggage containers, loaded with suitcases which were filled with clothing wrapped around bombs, to replicate the aircraft bombings. The tests were witnessed by British forensic expert, Alan Feraday. Thurman was publicly credited with figuring out the timer fragment's evidentiary importance when he told "ABC News" in 1991 that he had matched the Lockerbie timer fragment with a timer that had been confiscated in West Africa from Libyan agents::"When that identification was made, of the timer, I knew that we had it," Thurman said.

Three years later, he claimed credit for identifying the Mebo MST-13 timer (proven at the Lockerbie trial to have triggered the PA 103 bomb) when he was interviewed in the 1994 film "Maltese Double Cross". ["The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie", Producer: Allan Francovich, 1994] Thurman said he had made the identification on June 15, 1990. Because of the IG's 1997 ruling, Thurman was not called to give evidence at the UTA Flight 772 trial in Paris in 1999 or the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, which took place at Camp Zeist, Netherlands from May 2000 to January 2001.

Lockerbie review

On June 28, 2007, after a three-year review, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission announced that it was granting Megrahi a second appeal against conviction. [ [,,2114463,00.html Libyan jailed over Lockerbie wins right to appeal] ]

In a statement dated June 29, 2007 Dr Hans Köchler, international observer at the Lockerbie trial, expressed his surprise at the SCCRC's narrow focus and apparent bias towards the judicial establishment::"In giving exoneration to the police, prosecutors and forensic staff, I think they show their lack of independence. No officials to be blamed, simply a Maltese shopkeeper." [ [ Statement by Dr Hans Köchler] ]

econd appeal

New information casting fresh doubts about Megrahi's conviction was examined by three judges at a preliminary hearing in the Appeal Court in Edinburgh on October 11, 2007:
#His lawyers claim that vital documents, which emanate from the CIA and relate to the Mebo timer that allegedly detonated the Lockerbie bomb, were withheld from the trial defence team. [ [ 'Secret' Lockerbie report claim] BBC News October 2, 2007]
#Tony Gauci, chief prosecution witness at the trial, is alleged to have been paid $2 million for testifying against Megrahi. [ [,,2182343,00.html Fresh doubts on Lockerbie conviction] "The Guardian" October 3, 2007]
#Mebo's owner, Edwin Bollier, has revealed that in 1991 the FBI offered him $4 million to testify that the timer fragment found near the scene of the crash was part of a Mebo MST-13 timer supplied to Libya. [ [ Lockerbie trial: an intelligence operation? New revelation about financial offer to key witness from Switzerland] ]
#Former employee of Mebo Ulrich Lumpert swore an affidavit in July 2007 saying that he had given false evidence at the trial concerning the MST-13 timer ["Fragment of the imagination?" "Private Eye" issue 1195 (page 28) 12-25 October 2007] The second appeal will be heard by five judges in the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2008. [ [ Lockerbie bomber in fresh appeal] ]


External links

* [ Police investigations of "politically sensitive" or high profile crimes]

ee also

*Alternative theories into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103
*Hans Köchler's Lockerbie trial observer mission
*Investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103
*Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial
*Jean-Louis Bruguière
*Dr Thomas Hayes

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