JONATHAN MOYLE. Did he stumble into powerful interests?
THIRTY years ago, on March 31, 1990, Silvia Cabrera made a horrific discovery in room 1406 of the Carrera hotel where she worked in Santiago, Chile. The room was in chaos, with papers scattered around. There was a syringe on the table. And the room occupant's body hanging in the wardrobe.
The dead guest was a young British journalist, Jonathan Moyle, a former RAF pilot, working for the journal Helicopter World, in Santiago covering the air show as guest of the Chilean air force.
At first the Chilean police listed the death as a suicide. British Foreign Office officials put out the story that the dead man had died accidentally while engaged in some bizarre and elaborate act of auto-eroticism.
Jonathan Moyle's parents refused to accept that he had killed himself either deliberately or by misadventure. Their son had been in good spirits, following up a story that fitted his special interests, and was looking forward to getting married when he returned.
The evidence uncovered when the case was pursued showed they were right. A Chilean judge pronounced the cause of death as murder. Moyle had been drugged, suffocated with a pillow, injected in the heel with a lethal substance, then strung up in the closet. An improvised nappy had been put on him to contain bodily fluids and smell so as to delay the body being found.
Further investigation by journalists and by Jonathan's father Anthony Moyle indicated that the helicopter journalist had been interviewing Chilean air force officers and officials of a company owned by Carlos Cardoen. He had also received warnings to back off. He appears to have been interested in the company's purchase and modification of some helicopters for military use. It is thought the helicopters may have been sold on to Saddam Hussein.
The Iraqi regime was known as a good customer for Cardoen. In 1987 the New York Times reported that the Chilean arms dealer made a fortune selling cluster bombs to Iraq during the war with Iran. With the war winding down in the late 1980s, Saddam Hussein may still have wanted helicopters both for external and internal use against Kurdish and other rebels. US Congressional papers record that Cardoen tried to manufacture a cheap attack helicopter from a customized Bell Jet Ranger, one of the world's most readily available commercial helicopters. The Iraqi government's officers may have seen this on display at the Santiago show, and put in an order.
Maybe Jonathan Moyle had seen it too. A keen, politically-naieve if patriotic man, said to have informed on fellow-students during his college days. he might well have been using his job as journalistic cover for intelligence work, and would certainly have seen it as his duty to investigate anything he considered of concern to Her Majesty's government, and pass on what he found.
It may not have occurred to him that some people, at least, in HM government, might already know something about supplying weapons and military technology to Iraq, and would thank him to keep his nose out of such things. It was not until November 1992, when three executives of Coventry machine-tool manufacturer Matrix Churchill were charged with supplying equipment of strategic use to Iraq, and during their case that we heard about former defence procurement minister Alan Clarke's advice to be "economic with the actualite".
But already before this another connection had been raised in the House of Commons. Early Day Motion 589, moved by Ken Livingstone,was headed "Mark Thatcher and arms Sales to Iraq:
"That this House welcomes the decision of the United States Congress to investigate arms sales to Iraq; notes the charges by former Israeli Military Intelligence agent Mr Ari Ben-Menashe that a Texan-based company owned by Mr Mark Thatcher was used to move equipment directly from Britain to Iraq, that Mark Thatcher introduced 'Supergun' designer Gerald Bull to South African Military Intelligence General Pieter Van der Westhuizen, who subsequently introduced Mr Bull to the Iraqi Deputy Chief of procurement who arranged payment for Mr Bull's services via Cardoen Industries financial network and that Mark Thatcher introduced Mr Bull to Mark Thatcher's Chilean associate Carlos Cardoen; notes that Mr Ben Menashe also charges that Mark Thatcher sold 48 Chieftain tanks to Chile and proclaimed his admiration for General Pinochet; and, in the light of these charges, hopes the Government will conduct its own investigation to determine the truth of these charges and, if proved true, bring criminal charges against any United Kingdom Government individuals who were aware of these activities".
We may note an interesting coincidence. The Matrix-Churchill trial was linked with Iraq's efforts to build a "super-gun" for accurate firing of missiles. The designer, Canadian engineer Gerald Bull, had previously supplied heavy weaponry to Israel and South Africa, and been recommended for US citizenry by Senator Barry Goldwater, before finding a customer in Iraq. Bull was assassinated outside his Brussels flat on March 22, 1990 less than ten days before the killing of Jonathan Moyle in Chile. It was reportedly carried out by a three-man Mossad hit team, and it is generally assumed that the Israeli secret service was gunning for Bull because he was helping the Iraqis.
But on April 16, 1998, the Flemish daily de Morgen discovered another coincidence. The arrival in Brussels of a four-man team, described in documents as "UK MoD Special Forces Staff", in the weeks before Gerald Bull was killed. They were supposedly looking into supply of special explosive devices by the PRB company. Among them was Stephan Kock, described as both MI6 and SAS, whose company Astra Holdings was in competition with Gerald Bull for ownership of PRB.
There are bound to be tangles of intrigue and disinformation surrounding these cases, with intelligence services, even those which which otherwise co-operate, competing to point the finger at each other.
The fact remains that two men were killed, one in Santiago and one in Brussels, and in neither case has anyone been brought to justice.
Jonathan Moyle appears to have met his death because in his keenness to pursue the truth he stumbled into powerful, ruthless interests. But whose? Carlos Cardoens might have had the motive and the resources to remove this nuisance, but could he alone have arranged a cover-up, and made sure he never faced justice?
The British intelligence services never kill people - we know this because they have more than once said so, and we are supposed to believe them. But it remains striking that, far from pressing the Chileans for an investigation into the death of a British subject, it was British officials who hastened to discourage interest with their story about strange sexual practices.
And after the Matrix-Churchill scape-goating trial collapsed, we had the Scott Inquiry, much of which remained secret, and no further moves to prosecute anyone involved in the Iraqi arms business.