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BBC probe casts doubt on Lockerbie evidence

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LONDON — A BBC investigation has cast doubt on key evidence in the case against the Libyan convicted of blowing up a US jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, the broadcaster said Wednesday.

A tiny fragment of the timer allegedly used to blow up Pan Am flight 103 — crucial in linking Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi to the bomb — was not properly tested and was also unlikely to have survived the explosion, it said.

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Megrahi was jailed in 2001 for the attack which left 270 people dead, but was controversially released from his Scottish prison in August 2009 because he was suffering from terminal cancer and only had months to live.

Investigators believe the plane bomb was contained in a Toshiba radio cassette player inside a brown suitcase with various items of clothing, and was triggered by a digital timer that was later linked to Libya.

But according to the BBC’s Newsnight programme, the fragment of the timer — found embedded in a charred piece of clothing three weeks after the bombing — was never tested to confirm if it had actually been in a blast.

The BBC also quoted an explosives expert, John Wyatt, who recreated the suitcase bomb 20 times and found that each time, the timer and its circuit board were completely destroyed — casting serious doubt on the fragment found.

“I do find it quite it extraordinary and I think highly improbable and most unlikely that you would find a fragment like that — it is unbelievable,” Wyatt, the UN’s explosives consultant for Europe, told the programme.

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It is not the first time doubts have been raised about the timer fragment — in 1995, a British lawmaker suggested it could have been planted by the CIA.

A review by the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission also cast doubt on evidence linking Megrahi to the clothes in the suitcase and concluded in 2007 that “a miscarriage of justice may have occurred”.

Megrahi, who has always protested his innocence, subsequently launched a second appeal but dropped this in anticipation of his release.

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The devolved Scottish government’s decision to release him caused a diplomatic row with the United States, home to many of the victims, and the British government in London.


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US has first case of community-spread coronavirus transmission — as Trump says spread is under control

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President Donald Trump did a Wednesday press conference where he said that the coronavirus was under control and only a little over one dozen people had it and it would be down to five people soon. In fact, the U.S. hit its 60th person. One dramatic shift happened in the virus, however.

According to KCRA, the first community-spread infection has occurred in California.

A Solano County patient “had no known exposure to the virus through travel or close contact with a known infected individual,” said the California Department of Public Health.

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Trump only sees coronavirus as ‘something he needs to manage for his re-election’: MSNBC host

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On MSNBC Wednesday, host Chris Hayes blasted President Donald Trump's leadership abilities in the midst of the coronavirus emergency — and warned that the president is putting himself and his political prospects before any consideration of what would actually protect the country.

"One of the most important things the federal government is supposed to do is manage risk that cannot be managed by private citizens of the private sector because they are big risks. Said Hayes. "Call them tail risks. Unlikely — in some cases highly, highly unlikely — events that could be truly catastrophic if the government fails. That was Hurricane Katrina for the George W. Bush administration. Financial crisis for both the Bush and Obama administrations. On this administration, the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Now, it could be coronavirus."

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‘He has no clue’: Internet slams Trump’s ‘breathtaking’ incoherence at coronavirus press conference

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On Wednesday, President Donald Trump gave a barely intelligible press conference on the coronavirus outbreak, during which he claimed he saved America by shutting down flights, appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead a coronavirus task force despite having few qualifications to do so, suggesting his public health budget cuts are no big deal because he can just hire more doctors later, and insisting that it was Democrats, rather than the epidemic, that tanked the stock market this week.

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