Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The secret graveyard of Lockerbie jumbo

[This is part of the headline over a report published today on the website of the Coventry Telegraph. It reads in part (and with interesting photographs omitted):]

The twisted remains of Pan Am flight 103 lie in a forgotten heap – nearly 30 years after a terrorist bomb sent it crashing into the town of Lockerbie.
The 325 tons of aluminium alloy, including part of the fuselage bearing the identification number N739PA, are fenced off in a scrapyard next to a go-kart track, and cannot be moved until all investigations into the atrocity have been concluded.
Among the 270 people who died when the Boeing 747 exploded over south west Scotland on December 21, 1988, were 25-year-old Clayton Flick, from Binley Woods, near Coventry, and his 19-year-old partner Clare Bacciochi, from Kingsbury, who had got engaged only a month before.
Following the atrocity, parts of the plane were taken for examination to an army base near Carlisle.
The mid section, where the bomb exploded, remains under wraps at the HQ of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Farnborough, Hants.
But the rest of the wreckage, including parts of the engines and pieces of the distinctive nose cone of the Boeing 747, was transported to Windleys Salvage in Tattershall, near Boston, Lincs, where it has remained ever since.
Earlier this month, the family of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi lodged a new bid to appeal against his conviction, five years after his death.
Lawyer Aamer Anwar joined family members and supporters to hand files to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission in Glasgow. (...)
He lost an appeal against his conviction in 2002, with the review commission recommending in 2007 that he should be granted a second appeal.
He dropped the second attempt to overturn his conviction in 2009, before his return to Libya, but his widow Aisha and son Ali met Mr Anwar late last year to discuss a posthumous appeal to overturn the murder conviction.
The commission will now decide whether there are grounds to refer the case to the appeal court.
The move has the support of Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, and Rev John Mosey, whose daughter Helga also died.
It is believed the new appeal bid is based on concerns over the evidence that convicted the Libyan, including that given by Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci, who died last year.
Gauci sold the clothes allegedly wrapped around the improvised explosive device that brought the aircraft down.
He was the only witness to link Abdelbaset al-Megrahi directly to the bomb.
Mr Anwar said: “It has been a long journey in the pursuit for truth and justice.
"When Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, killing 271 people from 21 countries - including al-Megrahi, it still remains the worst terrorist atrocity ever committed in the UK - 28 years later the truth remains elusive.
“The reputation of Scottish law has suffered both at home and internationally because of widespread doubts about the conviction of Mr al-Megrahi.
“It is in the interests of justice and restoring confidence in our criminal justice system that these doubts can be addressed.
“However the only place to determine whether a miscarriage of justice did occur is in the appeal court, where the evidence can be subjected to rigorous scrutiny.”
The son of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has said he is “100% certain” his father was innocent.
Ali Megrahi, 22, said: “When my father returned to Libya, I spent most of my time next to him and had the opportunity to talk to him as much as possible before he passed away.
"I am 100% certain that he was innocent and not the so-called Lockerbie bomber.”
Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora, Rev John Mosey, whose daughter Helga was killed, and Geoff and Ann Mann, who lost her brother John, his wife and their two children, joined Mr Anwar.
Dr Swire said: “As the father of Flora, I still ache for her, what might have been, the grandchildren she would have had, the love she always gave us and the glowing medical career.
“It has always been and remains my intent to see those responsible for her death brought to justice.
“I feel encouraged and optimistic that this may mark the start of another step towards discovering the truth about our families, why they were murdered and in particular why their lives were not protected in all the circumstances.”

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