DUMFRIES, Scotland -- Heathrow Airport baggage handlers said Monday they would have recognized any intruders or imposters in their area on Dec. 21, 1988, when they unknowingly loaded onto Pan Am flight 103 a hidden radio cassette bomb that killed 270 people.
Marina de Larracoechea, 43, whose sister Nieves, 39, was an air hostess aboard the ill-fated flight, was given special permission to cross-examine Pan Am baggage handlers during the fatal accident inquiry being held at Dumfries, Scotland.
She asked Amarjit Singh Sidhu, 41, if he knew of at least three security breaches at Heathrow staged after the disaster, and that journalists had created fake identity cards to enter the forbidden area.
But Sherriff Principal John Mowat, the presiding judge, overruled the question, saying: 'I'm not concerned with Heathrow after the disaster and what precautions were taken there. My concern is with what led up to the disaster.'
Spanish-born de Larracoechea, who gave up her work as a designer in New York to devote time to investigate the tragedy, explained she wanted to establish whether Pan Am employees would have recognized an intruder.
'I don't know how they could control it if anyone was really set on a bomb attempt ... they would get through quite easily, I believe, because of lack of control,' she said.
She asked Sidhu if he recognized new workers by their badges or their uniform. The Pan Am employee said this was a task mainly for security officers, but all employees had been briefed to check on anybody they did not recognize.
Sidhu said loaders on duty for Flight 103 would have known if a stranger or an imposter had been part of the group that loaded container 4041, which contained the suitcase in which had been hidden the radio bomb that killed all 259 occupants and 11 residents of the Scottish town of Lockerbie.
He two other handlers said they had seen no irregularities or any strangers during the unloading of cargo from a connecting Frankfurt flight. Terence Crabtree, 42, said container 4041 had about six or seven suitcases from different airlines. He said when it was full, he locked it and drove it to the awaiting Boeing 747.
News reports have accused Middle Eastern extremists for the attack.