Lockerbie detectives plan to question retired East German Stasi officers now in their 80s as they investigate whether they supplied timer for bomb that brought down jet and killed 270
- Seven ex-Stasi agents are said to have been interrogated over the 1988 disaster
- A Libyan was convicted over the crash but could have had help from East Berlin
- The secret police are known to have aided terrorist efforts in West Germany
Scottish investigators want to speak to nearly 20 former East German secret police officers over alleged links to the Lockerbie bombing, it has been claimed.
Seven retired Stasi agents, now in their 70s and 80s, have reportedly been interrogated already, more than 30 years after the crash which killed 270.
Detectives are said to believe that the Stasi could have helped to supply the timer on the bomb, which brought down Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town in 1988.
The secret police could also have provided ‘logistical support’ for the attack, German newspaper Bild reported.
A police officer walks by the nose of Pan Am flight 103 in a field near the town of Lockerbie in 1988. Scottish detectives are said to be investigating possible links to the East German Stasi
Scottish detectives have reportedly sent dozens of requests to authorities in former East Germany to speak to retired agents.
Seven who live near Frankfurt/Oder are said to have been handed over and questioned already, with investigators from Edinburgh present.
Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was found guilty of murdering the 270 crash victims in 2001.
It has long been suggested that then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi ordered the bombing, although he denied it.
However Libya could have had help from East Berlin, where the Stasi are known to have supported terror groups.
At the Lockerbie trial in 2000 the court heard that the Swiss businessman whose company supplied the timer had links to the Stasi.
The Stasi’s former headquarters are seen in East Berlin. Scottish detectives have reportedly sent dozens of requests to authorities in former East Germany to speak to retired agents
The Stasi are known to have given assistance to members of the Red Army Faction, a far-left terrorist network active in West Germany in the 1970s.
Former left-wing terrorists were given shelter in East Germany and given new identities, according to the government of reunified Germany.
Stasi agents were also linked to a 1986 disco bombing in West Berlin, which was also connected to Libya.
The Stasi – short for Ministry of State Security – kept watch over the population of socialist East Germany until its collapse in 1990.
They spied on the population with the help of up to 189,000 ‘unofficial collaborators’ – one for every 90 people – who reported back on their friends, neighbours and even relatives.
They also ran a political prison in a Berlin suburb, where enemies of the state were kept without trial and subjected to psychological torture.
Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi (left) was found guilty of murdering the 270 crash victims in 2001. Pictured right: the crater left by the crash in 1988
Many of the Stasi’s crimes have only been revealed since the fall of the Wall, along with tales of betrayal by parents, children, husbands and wives.
Agents tried to destroy the Stasi archives as Communism collapsed in 1989 but many of them remain intact.
The Lockerbie flight was on its way from London to New York when it exploded, killing 259 people on board and 11 on the ground.
The explosive which detonated was stored in a suitcase in the plane hold.
Many believe the Lockerbie atrocity was committed in revenge for the downing of an Iran Air passenger flight by a US missile cruiser earlier in 1988.
Megrahi was released from prison on ‘compassionate grounds’ in 2009 and died in Tripoli in 2012.
However Megrahi’s family are still pursuing a possible appeal against his conviction.