Saturday, 21 December 2013

Wreaths were been laid at Dryfesdale Cemetery in Lockerbie to mark the 25th anniversary of the bombing of an aircraft above the town.

Memorial events are also to be held in the UK and the US to mark the attack in which 270 people were killed. The south of Scotland town was devastated when Pan Am flight 103 was blown from the skies in 1988.


Over the years since the tragedy of Lockerbie I have interviewed many of the relatives that had lost loved ones that fateful night. But the one who stood out most to me was Dr Jim Squire who lost his daughter Flora who was only 23 and on her way to meet her American boyfriend that night. Jim always made it clear to me he never believed that Megrahi was responsible for the bombing. This has not always endeared him to the other relatives who have always believed it was a Libyan plot by Col Gaddafi carried out by Megrahi. Dr Swires endless investigations it took until 2001 to discover, that Heathrow Airport’s “airside” had been broken into 16 hours before Pan Am Flight 103 exploded – and just where the bags converging for the Lockerbie flight were to be assembled on 21 December, 1988. He explained: “Try to imagine what it is like to know that your daughter went, unaware of her danger, through the corridors of an airport which knew that its “secure” airside had been broken into, and knew that there was a high terrorist threat to US aircraft at the time and yet still decided not to investigate who had broken in or what his motive might have been. Then try to imagine that you have tried in every way you can think of for 25 years to get an inquiry into why Lockerbie was not prevented and how things could be improved for the future, and been blocked at every stage.”

At one stage during 2009 I remember that Jim had told me he was preparing to sue the Scottish prosecution service because he was convinced it deliberately blocked attempts to bring his daughter's "real" killers to court. He was planning the action under human rights legislation just three days after it was disclosed that the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing is likely to be released later this month. I don’t know if he finally persuade this action. From what I remember Dr Swire told me the evidence that eventually found Megrahi guilty was based on a suitcase bought in Malta that was alleged to have made its way on to the doomed Pan Am flight. Many, including Dr Swire, now believe that the most likely to group to have carried out the bombing was the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC).
At the time, the group was headed by Ahmed Jibril, a former Syrian Army captain, who was based in Damascus and funded by Iran.
Dr Swire suspects Iran was seeking revenge for the shooting-down of Iran Air Flight 655, with the loss of 290 lives, by the USS Vincennes in July 1988 – just five months before Lockerbie. Iran did not accept the US's claim that the incident was a mistake.
Dr Swire believes the families of the victims have been "pawns in a political scenario that had nothing to do with truth".
He added: "The Heathrow break-in would have been the perfect scenario for the Syrian-backed PFLP-GC to put one of its bombs on the aircraft. The grieving father also suspects that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who went on to become the anti-Western president of Iran but then reportedly an ambitious figure in Iran's Republican Guard, may have been involved in Lockerbie.
Another suspect is Abu Talb, a Palestinian later arrested and jailed in Sweden for terrorist bombings: he had circled the date of December 21 1988 in a calendar found at his flat. Other relatives, particularly those in the US seeking "closure" over the tragedy.
Critics say the evidence against Megrahi was, at best, circumstantial, and, at worst, flimsy. His lawyers have dismissed the evidence of Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper and the key prosecution witness.
He said he had sold clothes to Megrahi which had supposedly been in the suitcase that contained the bomb.
But it later emerged that Mr Gauci had seen a photograph of the suspect in a magazine linking him to the bombing. Other witnesses, it is alleged, were paid or offered money to give damaging evidence against the Libyan.
Dr Swire had controversially visited Gaddafi.

Will the truth be every known? What I do know every Christmas since that tragic day in 1988 hundreds of families will continue to mourn those who they lost so tragically.

2 comments:

  1. Maurice your blog is excellent. I love the way you share your personal experiences with us of those who are in the news. Very few have had that privilege. Thank you for bringing the news of David's death as you know I knew him through my BBC yeras. Also congratulations, great news. .

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  2. Agree, Although we don't have you on radio at the moment I do enjoy your opinions especially on your blog and Facebook, Looking forward to your return on radio there is no one on English radio that come anywhere as professional and entertaining as you. Happy Christmas.

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