Father of Lockerbie bombing victim hopes for truth if US announces new charges

Lucinda Cameron, PA Scotland
·4-min read

The father of a Lockerbie bombing victim has said he hopes “some truth will come out” after it emerged the US Justice Department expects to unseal charges in connection with the attack.

The bombing of Pan Am flight 103, travelling from London to New York on December 21 1988, killed 270 people in Britain’s largest terrorist atrocity.

Former Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was found guilty in 2001 of mass murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years, was the only person convicted of the attack.

US media reports claim the country’s Justice Department expects to unseal charges in the coming days, with the Wall Street Journal and New York Times naming Abu Agila Mas’ud as the suspect.

Lockerbie appeal
Jim Swire lost his daughter Flora in the atrocity (Danny Lawson/PA)

Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the attack, is convinced the late Megrahi was innocent.

He told BBC Breakfast: “My position has been difficult in that I cannot bring myself to feel that the evidence we’ve heard so far does in fact point us towards the truth of who committed those 270 foul murders back in 1988.”

Asked whether he thinks Mas’ud may be able to offer information, he said: “I cannot see how a connection can be made to the Lockerbie bombing with this guy, but it is quite possible that it may be.

“I do hope that with what’s going on at the moment, coming up to the 32nd anniversary of this awful business on Monday, that some truth will come out of what’s happening now.”

Mr Swire has spent more than 30 decades searching for answers over the death of his daughter, who boarded the flight on the eve of her 24th birthday.

He said: “My pursuit over this past 32 years has been for the truth about who murdered our lovely daughter Flora and why she wasn’t protected from the terrorist attack which had been copiously warned about in advance.

“I don’t feel confident that the material that was provided to indicate that the bomb had come from the hand of a Libyan in Malta was correct, I listened throughout the trial of that man and it seemed to me that the evidence did not support the verdict that was reached.”

Asked how he remembers his daughter, he added: “We remember Flora every day that dawns because we miss her and we miss all that she would have brought and contributed to life if she had been allowed to live. Bereavement is a life-long process, one can’t escape that.”

Lockerbie bomber case
Megrahi died in Libya in 2012 (Danny Lawson/PA)

Megrahi was released from prison in 2009 on compassionate grounds while terminally ill with cancer.

He returned to Libya and died in 2012.

A panel of five appeal judges in Edinburgh is currently deliberating whether to acquit Megrahi over the Lockerbie bombing after the conclusion of the third appeal against his conviction last month.

A statement issued on behalf of the Megrahi family by their lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said: “This morning the appeal team will be urgently seeking a full explanation from the Lord Advocate, Scotland’s most senior prosecutor, as to why information we believe relevant to appeal was not disclosed to the defence.

“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 it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

US journalist Ken Dornstein told Today on BBC Radio 4 that he passed fresh information about Mas’ud to the FBI after learning more details about him.

Mr Dornstein, who lost his brother David in the bombing, told the programme: “It matters… for all the families that the facts be known and I think there’s a threat when it seems like there is no narrative of why something happened and questions continue to be raised, I think that’s corrosive on the process of grieving and putting something behind you if you can’t settle on the truth.

“I think a little bit of truth, if it can be established beyond any real doubt in this case, is always important to fight for.”