[Allan Francovich died at Houston Airport, Texas, on this date in 1997. What follows is excerpted from his obituary in The Independent, written by Tam Dalyell:]
That Allan Francovich should die prematurely, succumbing to a heart attack in the Customs Area of Houston Airport, is hardly astonishing to those whose lives were touched by this remarkable, hyperactive film director. I picture him arriving to meet me in the Central Lobby of the House of Commons, bag and baggage full of contents, out of breath, and blurting out the latest discovery that he had made about the iniquity of the authorities.
He reeled off facts at a mind-boggling rate. Yet, unlike most conspiracy theorists - of which he was proud to be one - Francovich was scrupulous about fact, and particularly about unpalatable facts which did not suit his suspicions. I never caught him cutting any inconvenient corners to arrive at the conclusion he wanted. He was, above all, a seeker after truth, wheresoever that truth might lead. (...)
My first introduction to Francovich was from Dr Jim Swire of the British Lockerbie Victims, who said that he had persuaded the best investigative film director in America to turn his attention to the crash of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, on 21 December 1988 that had killed his daughter Flora along with 269 other victims.
Once persuaded that there was a cause for suspicion, Francovich was the most determined of ferrets. The end result was his film The Maltese Double Cross (1995), made in conjunction with his fervently loyal colleagues John Ashton and David Ben-Aryeah and their cameraman Jeremy Stavenhagen. The showing of the film on Channel 4, and in the House of Commons, did more than anything else to awaken the British from J S Mill's "deep slumber of a decided opinion" about responsibility for Lockerbie.
Quite simply, Francovich proved the so-called Malta connection, on which the case against Libya depends, was a fabrication. Francovich identified the shooting down by the USS Vincennes of an Iranian airliner carrying pilgrims to Mecca as the starting point for Lockerbie. The Iranian Minister of the Interior, Ali Akbar Mostashemi, swore that there should be a "rain of blood" in revenge. He had been, crucially, the Iranian ambassador in Damascus from 1982 to 1985, and had close connections with the terrorist gangs of Beirut and the Bekaa valley. They had infiltrated an American drug sting operation, which allowed them to circumvent the security precautions at the Rhine Main airport in Frankfurt. It was typical of Frankovich that he could go to the Jafaar family of the naive courier who had perished in Pan Am 103, and capture them on film in a powerful sequence showing up the activities of the Neuss terrorist gang operating in Germany.
It was Francovich's multi-dimensional, multilingual talents which I am sure will eventually unlock the truth about Lockerbie. Rare indeed, outside fiction, are the crusaders of truth who, time and again, have put themselves in personal danger as Francovich did.
Allan Francovich, film director: born New York 1941; married 1970 Kathleen Weaver (marriage dissolved 1985); died Houston, Texas 17 April 1997.