Mr Schreiner’s evidence expanded beyond this, to explanations for the the Lords of how coding “would generally begin three to five minutes after the arrival of the baggage at V3,” and that “luggage was always delivered from one flight only” at any given time. The basis for these points must be taken on the man’s word, but they help simplify the Prosecution’s case. Station 206 at 13:04-13:10 means KM180 baggage and nothing else. Simple common sense would dictate a breach of this standard MO is at least possible. A stronger retort was published in Time magazine in 1992, relating a FBI memo following a look at the airport’s records and methods:
On a guided tour of the baggage area in September 1989, it was disclosed, detective inspector Watson McAteer of the Scottish police and FBI special agent Lawrence G. Whitaker "observed an individual approach Coding Station 206 with a single piece of luggage, place the luggage in a luggage container, encode a destination into the computer and leave without making any notation on a duty sheet." This convinced the two investigators that a rogue suitcase could have been "sent to Pan Am 103 either before or after the unloading of Air Malta 180."
This bag would thus appear to investigators to have been part of whatever planeload they were coding there at the time. The same could be at work with our item 8849. The conclusion of this report, sent back to Washington: “"There remains the possibility that no luggage was transferred from Air Malta 180 to Pan Am 103."
The degree of correlation between coding time and flight number is certainly higher than zero and less than 100%, and debatable from there.