Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Pan Am 103 Case Winding Down, despite Continued Doubts about Libya's Guilt

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Pan Am 103 Case Winding Down, despite Continued Doubts about Libya's Guilt

Article excerpt

Dr. Robert Black, professor of criminal law at Edinburgh University in Scotland and mastermind of the unique legal arrangements for trying Libyan defendants under Scottish law in the Netherlands, reiterated to the Washington Report on Sept. 15 his doubts that Abdul Basset Ali alMegrahi was guilty of bombing Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on Dec. 21, 1988. An appeal of Megrahi's conviction to the Scottish Criminal Law Review Commissioner on grounds that he had had an inadequate defense will be ready within weeks, Black said.

Prospects are good that an appeal will be successful, in the law professor's view, but this does not mean that a full public inquiry into who really planted the bomb that destroyed the plane is likely. Too much time has passed for that, Black said. If the appeal is successful, it would go a long way to restore confidence in the Scottish judiciary, which suffered from a 75-page judgment finding Megrahi guilty when a decision of "not proven" had seemed clearly indicated.

According to the Aug. 1 London Observer, Matt Berkley, who lost a brother in the Pan Am 103 crash, will not accept his share of the $2.7 billion offered by Libya as compensation. According to Berkley, there was "no credible evidence" that Libya was to blame. Like many other (British) relatives of those who died, he maintains that the truth about Pan Am 103 still is shrouded in mystery, and has called on the government to hold a full public inquiry. There is a strong suspicion among British relatives, the Guardian reported, that the "the deal was brokered" to allow Libya back into the international community and to open its economy to Western companies. Berkley believes that further investigation would turn up evidence pointing to the "real culprits."

The majority of relatives, however, appear likely to accept the compensation, and, except for winding up the details, the Lockerbie case seems over. Jim Swire, spokesman for some or all of the relatives, and who lost a daughter, Flora, in the crash, was quoted as saying, "The agreement still leaves open the question of the truth behind Lockerbie." He did not say whether he would accept the compensation.

Tripoli is acting as if Lockerbie is indeed over, and is doing all it can to negotiate the unsettled details with Washington, according to the Financial Times of Sept. 22. Libyan Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Shalgam said that the first round of talks with the United States could begin in early October, the goal being "to normalize bilateral relations. …

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