Paul Rogers: Pan Am 103 ... Libya and A Case Unclosed





Paul Rogers is professor in the department of peace studies  at Bradford University.

The death on 20 May 2012 of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the bombing of a passenger airplane over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, has been followed by calls for a renewed enquiry into the circumstances of and responsibility of the tragedy. The focus of these calls is thus very different from the controversy over al-Megrahi's release from custody by the Scottish government in August 2009 on medical grounds, for it relates to the murders of the 259 people on Pan Am 103 and the eleven townspeople who died in Lockerbie itself.
 
This may seem a fine distinction, since the "compassionate" release in 2009  provoked fierce international criticism of the Scottish government's decision; not least because of suspicions that it was linked to potential oil deals between the British government in London and the then Libyan regime of Colonel Gaddafi. Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond stoutly denies any such hidden agenda, and points out that the case remains under police investigation; for, whatever the extent or otherwise of al-Megrahi's guilt, few people, whatever their views, believe that he acted alone.
 
The doubts over the case revolve around several areas, but at the outset it is worth bearing in mind two things:
 
* Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was one of two people tried for the attack; the other, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, was cleared, released and returned to Libya
 
* Al-Megrahi's case was itself up for consideration by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission in 2007 following the raising of issues about his conviction, a review process that ceased on his release.
 
But the core issue regarding the Lockerbie attack goes much further than details of legal proedure, important though these are. It concerns the question of Libyan involvement as a whole. This has been pursued by a number of people, most notably the families of some of the British passengers who were among the 270 people killed when Pan Am 103 exploded over Lockerbie...



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