Saturday, 15 March 2014

Flight 370 families deserve the truth, just as Lockerbie families do

[This is the headline over an article by Niall Fraser in today’s edition of the South China Morning Post.  It reads as follows:]

Barring dramatic overnight news, by the time you read this, more than a week will have passed since a Boeing 777 jetliner vanished over the South China Sea.

Our hearts go out those directly involved, the 239 souls on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and their loved ones waiting for news, who must be in a living nightmare.

The wait for facts and an explanation of what has happened must be as unbearable as it is heartbreaking.

It will come as no comfort to them, but they are not alone. And - at the risk of sounding insensitive - not even time might tell.

More than 25 years ago, on the evening of December, 21, 1988, a terrorist bomb blew apart Detroit-bound Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland, killing 259 passengers and crew instantly. A further 11 people perished on the ground as burning wreckage and aviation fuel rained down on the tiny town of Lockerbie.

The man many - but by no means all - believe carried out the atrocity, Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, has already been jailed, released and died of cancer.

Yesterday, a documentary on the Al-Jazeera news network cast credible doubt over Megrahi's conviction, reporting that the bombing was carried out by Palestinian terrorists on the orders of Tehran as an act of revenge for the downing of a passenger jet full of Iranian civilians by the United States months earlier.

This theory is not new. Less than two weeks after Lockerbie, the newspaper I then worked for in Scotland reported the same story. In fact, it was a widely believed to be a credible turn of events, until, that is, it fell victim to the geopolitical machinations of the United States and United Kingdom, who "discovered" evidence that Libya - a much smaller and convenient suspect - did it.

Almost three decades have passed since Lockerbie and grieving families still ache for the truth. The nearest they came was not long after the Iranian theory was ditched in favour of Libya.

At a meeting in London, Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter, Flora, at Lockerbie was told [RB: It was actually Martin Cadman who was told] by a senior UK official: "Our government knows who did it, the US government knows who did it, but they're never going to tell you."

The families of flight MH370 must be given the truth - whatever it is.

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