Kadafi death: Relatives of Pan Am 103 victims still seek justice
Relatives of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing — the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland by Libya in 1988 — greeted reports of the death of former strongman Moammar Kadafi with praise for the rebels, as well as a cautionary note.
More needs to be done to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of 270 people, they say.
“Unfortunately, the path to justice is often long and circuitous,” said the Victims of Pan Am 103 Inc. in a statement posted on its website. The group represents the relatives of those killed on the flight.
“Although today is a great day for the Libyan people and for the universal fight for freedom, our work is not done,” the group said.
The Pan Am flight left Heathrow Airport on the evening of Dec. 21, 1988. As it flew over Scotland, a bomb exploded on the craft, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew. Eleven more people were killed in Lockerbie by debris from the Boeing 747.
The incident became an international cause celebre and another battlefront between Libya and the West, which regarded the North African country as a supporter of terrorism. Of the 189 Americans on board, 35 were students at Syracuse University.
Libya repeatedly denied blame for the bombing, but under international pressure finally formally admitted responsibility in 2003, paying several billion dollars in compensation.
That capitulation came after authorities arrested two Libyans in connection with the incident. Abdel Basset Ali Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer and the head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines, and Lamin Khalifah Fhimah, the airline's station manager in Luqa Airport, Malta. Both were eventually tried for murder and Fhima was acquitted.
But Megrahi, who always maintained he was innocent, was convicted and sentenced to prison, where he served more than eight years. He was released in August 2009 on the compassionate grounds that he was dying of cancer. He returned to a hero’s welcome in Libya.
After commending the rebels now in control of Libya, the family advocate group went on to note that Megrahi was still at large “and other Libyan officials involved in the bombing have not been captured.”
“Nevertheless, we will take a moment today to honor our family members: In their memory, we did not give up. We kept fighting for them and for some semblance of justice. Today, we take some satisfaction that justice can be done,” the group said.
— Michael Muskal
Photo: Convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali Megrahi boards a plane to Libya after he was released from Greenock Prison on Aug. 20, 2009, in Glasgow, Scotland. Megrahi had been serving a life sentence for the 1988 Pan Am flight 103 Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 people but was released on compassionate grounds because he had terminal cancer. Credit: Danny Lawson / Pool