This is a crucial distinction, because in position 1 the bomb is in a suitcase transferred from the feeder flight while in position 2 it is in the case which appeared mysteriously in the container at Heathrow while the baggage handler was on his tea break. From the earliest months of the inquiry, received wisdom was that the explosion hadn’t been in the case on the bottom of the stack, so the mysterious brown Samsonite seen at Heathrow could be disregarded. It’s difficult to understand how anyone could be so sure about this, and the reasons cited are unconvincing, but the investigators were adamant.
Multiple strands of evidence reinforce each other to arrive at this conclusion, but the most visually compelling of these relates to the pattern of damage to the two suitcases sitting upright behind the bomb.
The arrangement of the cases at the back, hinge-down-handle-up, like slices of toast in a toast rack, was described by the baggage handler who loaded them. The case on the left, the first one loaded, belonged to the earliest arriving transfer passenger, and can thus be identified with certainty.
The next one was one of three belonging to a party which arrived three and a half hours later, and it can be identified by the pattern of damage it sustained. They say every picture paints a thousand words, but this one is worth more than that.
The left-hand insert is a panel of lining fabric which covered the inside of the hinge end of the case on the left. It has sustained severe, destructive charring at the end facing the explosion. The right-hand insert is the main body of the case on the right, showing the most severe damage to be right at the bottom, at floor level – not half way up the side.
The explosion was quite small, despite its catastrophic consequences. If the bottom front corners of these two cases had been protected by another suitcase sitting below the bomb suitcase, as would have been the case in position 1, this damage simply could not have occurred. If this point of appeal is upheld, the Crown Office will be in an invidious position.
The charade of the Malta crime-scene will no longer be tenable. The investigation will have been shown to have been off the rails from its earliest weeks, and to have pursued a red herring down a blind alley rather than