[What follows is the texr of a statement by Aamer Anwar Lockerbie appeal lawyer for the family of the late Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, Dr Jim Swire and the Rev'd John Mosey:]
On Thursday information was released through The Wall Street Journal that the US Attorney General William Barr was due to unseal indictments against two other possible suspects for the Lockerbie Bombing.
On Friday evening we were informed by some of the British relatives that instruct us, that they had received an email from the Crown Office Lockerbie Appeal Team that the US Department of Justice, the US Attorney’s Office, the FBI, Attorney General William Barr was inviting all the families of the victims of the Pan Am Flight 103 attack, to join him for an important public announcement and update regarding the investigation on Monday December 21, 2020, at 10:30 am EST/3:30 pm GMT. Internet live stream: http://www.justice.gov/live.
The families I represent are horrified at the intrusion on their grief, on the day that they wish to remember their loved ones. The fact that the outgoing Attorney General William Barr thinks it is appropriate to invite families to watch his ‘grandstanding’ at a press conference is deeply disrespectful to the families and victims.
Many of the families will refuse to do so and suspect the motivation of choosing to prosecute 32 years after the bombing.
The Rev'd John Mosey father of 19 year old Helga who was murdered on Pan Am Flight 103 wrote to the Crown Office and Attorney General to express his disgust at the invitation:
We consider the timing and particularly the choice of this specific day, which is special to many of us, to be bizarre, disrespectful, insensitive and extremely ill considered.
Why exactly when the Attorney General is about to leave office, has he waited 32 years to bring charges?
Why would you use the anniversary of our daughter Helga’s death along with 269 others to parade once more a highly suspect prosecution…..
Your own Department, and perhaps some parts of the Scottish legal system, should also investigated for spending over three decades trying to divert the course of justice and hide the truth.
Ali Megrahi the son of the late Abdelbasset Al-Megrahi whom I represent in the appeal had the following to say:
Monday is just another desperate excuse to accuse Libya and after 32 years want to accuse another Libyan. Why now?
Where were they in the past 32 years, especially when we have been fighting for an appeal over the last 6 years, so why release this information now?
They want to perpetuate lies against Libya and will not let us live in peace- I lost my father and yet America continues to cause our family as well as those of the victims more pain.
As for the American families of the victims of this atrocity, you lost loved ones and I lost my father, I am not against what you are doing, but I assure you that your government have lied to you for the past 32 years and my family and I will not give up fighting for truth and justice.
Robert Black QC stated:
I wonder... why now? Masud’s name (and Senussi's) has featured in the Lockerbie case since the very beginning, when charges were brought against Megrahi and Fhimah in 1991. I think the answer is that Bill Barr, the US Attorney General, is wanting to go out with a bang.
He’s now about to leave the scene and he wants his name to be remembered: Lockerbie at the beginning of his career and Lockerbie at the end.
The other possibility is that it is a blatant attempt to influence the Scottish judges when they have got the latest Megrahi appeal before them and we await their judgement.
To conclude, the actions of the US Department of Justice can only be described as a cynical attempt to use 270 dead victims for propaganda purposes.
The Attorney General must know that if the conviction of the late Al-Megrahi is overturned then the case against Abu Agila Masud is likely to fall apart. The real questions at 3.30pm will be is why now and what ‘dirty deals’ have taken place behind closed to doors to engineer these indictments.
Both the British and US Governments know that if the conviction is overturned then real questions would need to be answered as to why an innocent man Al-Megrahi was sent to prison whilst also punishing the people of Libya for a crime they did not commit.
As we await the decision of the appeal court on the Megrahi case it would be inappropriate to comment any further.