Thursday, 25 May 2017

Very serious unanswered questions

[What follows is excerpted from a report published in The Scotsman on this date in 2004:]

Tony Blair told families of Lockerbie victims yesterday that he would use his renewed links with Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi to press for further information about the 1988 Pan Am tragedy.

The families emerged from a meeting with the Prime Minister at Downing Street to say they were "encouraged" by Col Gaddafi’s reaction to their demands for further action to uncover the truth about the bombing.

They requested the meeting after becoming concerned that, despite the renewal of Britain’s relations with Libya, little progress has been made to identify those responsible for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

They have long called for a full public inquiry into the outrage, but a spokesman for the families, Dr Jim Swire, declined yesterday to say whether that specific demand had been made at the meeting. He said: "The Prime Minister did listen very carefully to all the things we asked for and didn’t reject any out of hand.

"We expect the issues we raised to be considered and we expect to be informed as to what decisions are made about them. I am encouraged."

Asked whether he believed an inquiry would be called, Dr Swire said: "We shall have to wait and see. Time will show.

"The Prime Minister of our country has spent considerable time listening to the concerns of people who have been bereaved now for 15 years and firmly believe that there are very serious unanswered questions surrounding the circumstances of that bereavement.

"All we can hope for, I think, is that he - as someone who was not in the know politically at the time - will now indeed consider - and I am sure he will do, as he has undertaken to do - what has to be done about the mess that currently still exists."

Dr Swire said he hoped the families would hear Mr Blair’s response within "quite a short timescale" but said he was unable to estimate how long it would be. (...)

A Former Libyan intelligence agent, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, 51, was convicted of the bombing at a special trial in the Netherlands in 2001 and is serving a life sentence at Barlinnie prison in Glasgow.

But the UK Families Flight 103 Victims Group has made it clear that his conviction did not answer their questions about the outrage.

They want Mr Blair to use the UK’s improved relations with Libya, following Col Gaddafi’s renunciation of weapons of mass destruction last year, to press for the truth about how the bombing was planned, financed and perpetrated.

In a statement issued before yesterday’s meeting, the families said: "Recent letters from [the Foreign Office minister] Baroness Symons and the Lord Advocate make it plain that the criminal investigation is effectively inactive and that no further initiatives are planned by government to take advantage of the renewed relationship with Libya.
"Libya is not being asked to abide by its written commitment to the UN Security Council to co-operate ‘in good faith’ with any further inquiries into Lockerbie.

"We will therefore be asking Mr Blair to find a means to address the outstanding and unresolved questions about the circumstances of the biggest mass murder of the 20th century in the UK.

"What was the motivation for the bombing of Pan Am 103? Who was responsible? How was it financed?

"How was the bombing allowed to happen, given the amount of information available to the intelligence and security services? What lessons have been learnt from Lockerbie?"

After the meeting, the Rev John Mosey, whose daughter Helga, 19, died at Lockerbie, said that the families had raised questions over why Flight 103 was the only transatlantic service with empty seats in the busy pre-Christmas period and whether this was as a result of intelligence that it could be a target.

Mr Mosey said: "The Prime Minister said he is going to look into certain things we raised - the fact that there has never been a forum granted to ask the important questions about how this disaster was allowed to happen.

"He has undertaken personally to look into certain matters on warnings and they are going to get back to us. We have to wait and see whether he is as good as his word."

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