Interior Ministry to Brief Relatives of Crash Victims
BONN, West Germany (AP) _ West German officials will brief relatives of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103 next week about their investigation of the bombing, but a spokesman said Friday the information already is widely known.
Three U.S. congressmen said Thursday a group of relatives from among the 270 killed in the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of the jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland would visit Bonn and Frankfurt to learn what they could about the incident.
″I imagine that these people are seeking information that would help them put together a picture of where the investigation stands,″ said Detlef Dauke, spokesman for the federal Interior Ministry overseeing the inquiry.
Dauke said investigators from the United States, Britain and West Germany have been cooperating closely in sharing information about the case.
″I can’t imagine that any new details will come out,″ Dauke said.
The group is expected to arrive Wednesday for talks with airport administrators and officials of the Federal Criminal Investigations Office, the West German equivalent of the FBI.
Pan Am Flight 103 originated at Frankfurt Airport. After landing at London’s Heathrow Airport, passengers and luggage were transferred to a Boeing 747 that exploded and showered fiery debris over the town of Lockerbie after taking off for New York on Dec. 21.
West German and Scottish investigators say a radio-cassette player packed with plastic explosives and an air pressure-regulated timing device exploded in a suitcase.
The Criminal Investigations Office in Wiesbaden confirmed earlier this week that investigators were pursuing clues that the bomb-laden suitcase was transferred to Flight 103 after being brought to Frankfurt Airport unaccompanied on an Air Malta flight from the island nation. Air Malta has denied any connection with the disaster.
U.S. media reports have alleged that the bombing has been traced to terrorists jailed in West Germany who belong to the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.
Pan American World Airways, facing $300 million in lawsuits over the bombing, asked a U.S. federal court for access to any information showing West Germany warned U.S. authorities of suspicious activity in Frankfurt Airport’s baggage handling area 90 minutes before the flight took off.
The Criminal Investigations Office has denied issuing any such a warning and the State Department has denied receiving any.
A U.S. presidential commission formed to look into the bombing will investigate Pan Am’s claims, U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Alfonse D’Amato, R-N.Y., told a Washington news conference Thursday.
The relatives group visiting West Germany will be accompanied by staff members from the office of Rep. Cardiss Collins, D-Ill.