Thursday, 17 August 2017

'I don't want £6m, I want the truth'

[This is part of the headline over a report published in The Guardian on this date in 2003. It reads as follows:]

The brother of a victim of the Lockerbie disaster has vowed to reject a multi-million pound compensation deal from Libya because he does not believe it has been proved guilty of the attack.

Law lecturer Alistair Berkley was a 29-year-old passenger on the New York-bound Boeing 747 which was blown up over the Scottish town on 21 December 1988, killing all 259 on board plus 11 on the ground.

A £1.7 billion compensation agreement was revealed on Friday as part of a package which also included a letter from the Libyan government to the United Nations which has been widely interpreted as an admission of guilt.

The deal amounts to a possible £6.3 million for each of the 270 victims' families, to be paid in stages. About £2.5m will go to each family when the UN lifts sanctions - which could happen as early as next week.

But Matt Berkley, from Hexham, Northumberland, is refusing his share because he does not believe the whole story has been told. He said there was no 'credible evidence' Libya was to blame.

Like many other relatives of those who died, he maintains that the truth about Pan Am Flight 103 is still shrouded in mystery and called on the Government to hold a full public inquiry. There is a strong suspicion among British relatives that the deal was brokered to allow Libya back into the international community and open its markets to Western companies. Colonel Muammar Gadaffi's government has stipulated that the rest of the compensation will be paid when the US lifts its own sanctions and Libya is taken off its list of terror states.

However, Berkley fears that acceptance of the idea that Libya carried out the attack could stifle attempts to launch further investigations into the tragedy which might turn up evidence pointing to the real culprits.

'I went through a process of trying to work out what to do, and it became clear that I would feel bad if I took the money and good if I refused it,' he said. 'I haven't seen what I would consider credible evidence that Libya did it or that any admission by the Libyans would be truthful, rather than simply the result of them being put under enormous pressure by the international community.

'If I sign up, there is a long list of organisations and people that I can't subsequently sue. I don't want to give up my right to sue.'

Libyan intelligence agent Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is serving a life sentence in a unit - known as the Gadaffi Cafe - within Glasgow's Barlinnie prison. In January 2001 at a purpose-built Scottish court in the Netherlands he was found guilty of planting the bomb, but his co-accused, Al-Amin Khalifah Fhimah, was acquitted.

Megrahi's conviction depended on an identification by a Maltese shopkeeper who said he sold the Libyan items of clothing that were found scattered near the bomb site. Megrahi's legal team is trying to have the verdict quashed and a file is expected to be submitted by Glasgow-based lawyer Eddie MacKechnie to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission within days.

The letter from the Libyan government to the UN states: 'Libya has facilitated the bringing to justice of the two suspects charged with the bombing of Pan Am 103 and accepts responsibility for the actions of its officials.'

Long-term Lockerbie campaigner Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora, died, said: 'The agreement still leaves open the question of the truth behind Lockerbie.'

No comments:

Post a Comment