[This is the headline over a long report in today's edition of The Daily Orange, the newspaper of Syracuse University, New Jersey, thirty-five of whose students died on Pan Am 103. It contains quotes from Frank Duggan, president of Victims of Pan Am 103 Inc (not himself a Lockerbie relative), Susan Cohen (mother of one of the Syracuse students) and Brian Murtagh, a US Justice Department prosecutor at the time who worked on the case and, indeed, formed part of the Lord Advocate's prosecution team in the Scottish Court in the Netherlands. The views of Mr Duggan and Mrs Cohen are well known. I therefore confine myself to reproducing the sections relating to Mr Murtagh (wrongly given as "Murtaugh" in the article itself).]
The Scottish and U.S. governments worked to study evidence from the site of the bombing, said Brian Murtaugh,
then a Justice Department prosecutor. Pieces of cloth, metal from the
aircraft and the remains of the suitcase that held the bomb were
recovered, he said. A storekeeper in Malta said he sold the clothes that
were recovered from the site to al-Megrahi. A double agent stepped forward with testimony, although Murtaugh said it was later discovered that the witness exaggerated his involvement. (...)
Murtaugh, who worked on the case for more than two decades, said if
al-Megrahi had been tried in the United States, it would have been less
likely for him to be released on compassionate grounds.
"A life sentence in the federal system means a life sentence," he said.
Through all the conflict, as well as the confusion of a foreign legal
system, families of the victims wanted to be involved. The Justice
Department funded flights to Scotland and provided access to al-Megrahi
and Fhimah's trial, and closed-circuit televisions were set up in New
After 23 years, the case remains open. Few have details on how the
crime was orchestrated. Gadhafi died at the hands of his own people in
October and al-Megrahi still claims his innocence.
The Scottish and U.S. governments continue to investigate the case with
the hope of finding more people involved. Someone had to make the bomb;
someone else must have delivered it, Murtaugh said.
Closure may be impossible, he said, but people still want to know what happened.
"Trials are an imperfect vehicle to bring justice in a sense of making
the victims whole," Murtaugh said. "We can never make them whole. We can
never bring back the decedent."