Parviz Taheri, Testimony

Day 57, October 7 2000 pp 7720-7759

Extended excerpts in italics. 

Prosecution witness, number 996 on the list, Parviz Taheri, gives evidence in Kurdish. 

Before he is brought in, might I remind Your Lordships that he is one of the persons  mentioned in the special defence  lodged on behalf of each accused.  I don't suggest  to Your Lordships that he should be given a warning, but I remind Your Lordships of his status.
LORD SUTHERLAND:  As he is being used as a Crown witness, he would have immunity  anyway.

Bio up to 1988:
At testimony, Mr. Taheri was 42 years old, lived in Sweden, married with a son, and drove a taxi for a living. He was born in Mahabad, Iranian Kurdistan, all relatives still there, except a brother and a sister who live in Sweden.

Before leaving Iran in 1983, he was "a teacher in the villages on the suburbs of Mahabad." "After the collapse of the Shah, Iran, there were two parties, one called Democrat of Iran and the other one Komola." He says he was suspected of fundraising and organizing for the latter, "so I went via Turkey to Germany."

He arrived on 23 December, 1983, lived in Darmstadt in Germany; then Frankfurt in the early 1985. After a year as a student, he "started working in the council of Frankfurt, then in a publishing house of Frankfurt for a few years."

Q  In 1988, did you become engaged to be married?
A  Yes.  
Q  And in 1988, where did your future wife live?
A  In Sweden, because I had moved -- they had moved to Sweden for a year.

"Because I had no constant job, I was using -- I was intending to buy a place with some friends, like a restaurant, or a shop for selling sweets or newspapers.  That was my intention. ... When I moved to Frankfurt in '85, I started thinking of setting up a business ... From '85 to '88. ... I was working from '87 to '88 in -- looking for advertisements in the newspapers.  There was -- then I started looking for auctions or agents for shops.  ... We looked at several places, but it was either because it was unaffordable or because we didn't like the place."

Q  Where did you keep the notes that we've just spoken of?
A  In a notebook which I kept with me.
Q  How many premises did you go to look at?
A  Because it has been for quite a long time since that happened, but as far as I remember -- but I can say that we viewed a place per week. ... I can say in approximately between 40 to 50 places.

Sandweg 28
Q  Did you ever see an advert for premises at Sandweg 28 in Frankfurt?
[...a headquarters of the PFLP-GC cell busted in October, building altimeter bombs like may have downed Flight 103...]
A  I can't remember precisely where that is, but we looked for several places in Frankfurt, but I can't remember all the places.  Even if I was taken to Frankfurt, I might not be able to point out the places -- all the places that we had viewed.
Q  All right.  Does that address mean anything to you now, then?
A  Which address are you referring to?
Q  Sandweg 28 in Frankfurt.
A  It doesn't ring a bell in my recollection.  The only thing that I remember in Frankfurt is my old address and some old addresses that I still keep in contact with them.  Apart from that, I can't remember any other addresses.

21 December, Frankfurt Airport
(cross examination)
Q  ... When you checked in on the 21st of December of 1988 through Pan Am employee Irene Reijheus, did you tell her that you had visited London often and did not require a visa?  It's a simple question, Mr. Taheri.  Did you tell her?
A  I can't remember if I had told anything to her, because I travel in a normal way. You just check in, and you show your documents if required. 
Q  Well, if Ms. Reijheus felt so alarmed by what she saw that she called up her colleague, Jasmine Sadiq, to help her with you ... If Ms. Sadiq, Jasmine Sadiq, who was also an employee of  Pan Am, remembered seeing you at the check-in, and indicated that you looked very nervous, can you explain why she would have that view, if this was a perfectly normal check-in by you, Mr. Taheri?
A  Yes.  People usually get upset if they have a fight, but I was very happy and pleased. I was not upset at all, and I was looking forward to arrive to London to meet my friends and my future wife.  There was no disturbance at all.

Q  Now, just two final matters.  Your intention was to work in the catering industry; is that right?
A  Yes.  In English it's called take-away. I was, yes, in such a place.
Q  Where did you get that idea, as a teacher, that you would move into catering?
A  I tried to work in my specialization, but I couldn't find any job.  I followed some courses, but it was very difficult to find the job that I wanted.  Therefore, I started thinking of finding some other job with a -- more profit.
Q  Did the German police tell you that that was another coincidence in your account? Because the individuals who were arrested in connection with the possession of arms, ammunitions, and explosives, at the address you had in your notebook, were also concerned in the catering industry, which they used as a convenient front for their activities. So here we've got another coincidence, Mr. Taheri.  Now, these may be coincidences, but there is now four of them.

A  Yes, I was asked by the German police regarding these matters and if I came across  anything to do with ammunition.  Yes, I said I had served in the Iranian army for two years, and in the first six months, I was trained in arms and ammunition in Iran.
Q  There is maybe a fifth coincidence coming along, Mr. Taheri.  You are a trained individual in weapons?
A  Yes, this is correct, because I had a training in my military service, and then after I finished my military service, I worked as a teacher in the villages in Iran.

Q  Now, I think the West German police said to you that if you were not involved in the tragedy that happened to Pan Am 103, did you, with your connections, have any idea who might be involved; is that right?  They asked you that question?
A  Yes, it is correct.
Q  And you told them to look somewhere in particular, didn't you?
A  I don't know what you are referring to.
Q  Well, let's see if I can jog your memory.  Did you direct their attention to the Iranian embassy in Helsinki?
A  No, I haven't contacted Iranian embassy at all.  I had been to Helsinki just as a tourist.
Q  We are at cross purposes.  When the German police asked you if you could help them by giving advice on who might be responsible, did you say to them that they should look at the Iranian embassy in Helsinki?
A  No, I was not asked about the Iranian embassy in Helsinki by the German police, but they only asked my point of view regarding that incident.  And I said I don't know.
Q  My Lord, that's all I ask.
MR. KEEN:  No questions.

LORD SUTHERLAND:  Advocate Depute. 
MR. TURNBULL:  I have no re-examination. Thank you, My Lords.
LORD SUTHERLAND:  Thank you.  That's all. 


Charles said...

I think the Crown is just trying to make the point that they think PT had nothing to do with the matter, and by producing PT with his anodyne evidence they a preventing an appeal by the defence to the criminality of person or persons unknown. Keen speaks for the defence, for he is certain that his client can be demonstrated not to have been at Luqa Airport and therefore falls to be found not guilty.

Remember he is not fighting for Mr Magrahi's acquittal, as the defence of him is Mr Taylor's responsibility alone.

That is why each is separately represented, so that each may, if they so wish back a cut-throat defence.

Taylor is in a more difficult position a he cannot deny his client was at the airport and so has to elaborately prove that the case was not at Frankfurt or London and that Luqa security had not failed, which implicitly the bench rejects for they find Mr Magrahi guilty.

It would not have been in Taylor's interest to cross-examine Taheri unless he could put a lot of flesh on his lying - but T is a transparently honest witness, so its probably not worth the effort.

Understanding how lawyers manage cases is very important indeed, and seems beyond members of the Lockerbie-ocracy, who tend to go on about the evidence, as if it speaks for itself clearly, alone.

Which unfortunately it does not do.

Caustic Logic said...

Thanks, Charles. I'm not sure just yet what to make of this all. Taylor's coincidence mongering is far from conclusive about any direct role in the bombing. Why mention weapons training, but fail to uncover any evidence that he had luggage on the way out?

It's all weird. His wife was in Sweden in 1988, but he was visiting her in London at Christmas? The busiest travel time of the year, and a presumably Muslim couple have to spend it together?

The evidence definitely doesn't speak for itself, clearly. But what it does say is what we've got to work with as for clues to what it's keeping mum about.