International Terror: The Lockerbie Atrocity

May 20th, 20125:34 pm @


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5:51pm UK, Sunday May 20, 2012

A total of 270 people were killed when a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, Pan Am flight 103, exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988.

Most of those killed in the bombing of the jet, which was on its way from London to New York, were Americans.

All 259 passengers and crew were killed. Eleven residents of the Dumfries and Galloway town also died after the plane crashed into their homes.

:: Profile – read more on Megrahi

Over the years, services have been held to mark anniversary dates of the bombing – Britain’s biggest terrorist atrocity.

Lockerbie bombing memorial

A Lockerbie bombing memorial in Arlington, Virginia

Loved ones of the victims gather in Lockerbie, Heathrow and in the US to remember the dead.

Libyan Abdelbaset al Megrahi, an intelligence agent during Muammar Gaddafi’s rule, was jailed for mass murder in 2001.

But Megrahi was returned to Tripoli eight years later on compassionate grounds.

Doctors treating him for prostate cancer estimated he had three months to live – it was three years before he died.

Families of those killed in the attack were split over the decision by the Scottish government to release Megrahi in 2009, a move which strained diplomatic relations between the UK and the US, where most of the victims were from.

US fury at the decision to release of Megrahi was compounded by the hero’s welcome he received in Tripoli upon his return.

But some British relatives have been vociferous among a group of campaigners who believe the Libyan was wrongly convicted and long demanded an inquiry into the investigation and court proceedings that convicted him.

Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the atrocity, always maintained that Megrahi was innocent, and expressed sadness over his death.

Lockerbie bombing

A total of 270 people died in the bombing

He told Sky News that when he met Megrahi, he talked to him about clearing his name.

“He still wanted to talk to me about how information which he and his defence team have accumulated could be passed to me after his death,” he said.

American Bert Ammerman, told Sky News they were pleased to hear of Megrahi’s death.

He said Megrahi’s release was “an act of betrayal by the US government and the British government. We knew it was for oil and big business”.

Sky’s Middle East correspondent Emma Hurd said: “There are those who believe the key to the whole Lockerbie case lies with a man called Abdullah al Senussi – the former intelligence chief under Gaddafi.

“He was arrested during the downfall of the Gaddafi regime as he tried to flee.

“This man has been dubbed the black box of the Gaddafi regime.

“There are plenty who believe that when it comes to Lockerbie, this man may hold the key. Now whether he will talk, if he is put on trial, we don’t know.

“But certainly, the secrets haven’t died with al Megrahi.”

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