At Last, a Shot at Justice: Eleven Years Later, the Pan Am 103 Case Goes to Trial

Article excerpt

Libyan defendants, Scottish judges, American families of the dead and the first of thousands of witnesses come together in a makeshift Dutch courtroom this week to see if justice can be done--or begin to be done--in the terrorist bombing of Pan American Flight 103 more than 11 years ago. The trial will certainly be long, several months at least, and already there are signs that when it is over, the verdict may be far from clear.

Pan Am 103 blew up in the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, killing 189 Americans and 81 others in the plane and on the ground. After combing hundreds of square miles of Scottish countryside and following the evidence across Europe, investigators identified two Libyan suspects, Abdel Basset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhima, who worked for the Libyan airline--and reportedly for Libyan intelligence. The country's strongman, Muammar Kaddafi, was persuaded to hand them over for trial after receiving assurances that his government's alleged support for the bombing operation would not be mentioned in court. …