Relatives of Bombing Victims Not Satisfied With Two Indictments With AM-Pan Am 103, Bjt
FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. (AP) _ The leader of a group of relatives of the victims of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 called for military retaliation against Libya, which was tied to the bombing in a federal indictment.
Other relatives said they still suspect Syria and Iran were involved in the bombing.
Thursday’s indictment of two Libyan intelligence officials shows that the 1988 bombing was an act of state-sponsored terrorism, said Bert Ammerman, president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103. He said the Bush administration should ″show the world that the United States will no longer accept this cowardice.″
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said the United States was considering retaliatory action, adding: ″We don’t rule out any option.″
Aphrodite Tsairis, chairwoman of the victims group, said it will press for full disclosure of the evidence leading to the indictments. The group hopes to meet with Acting Attorney General William Barr in Washington next month.
″It was an exhaustive investigation, there must be thousands and thousands of pages of information that need to come to light and be put to rest,″ said Mrs. Tsairis, whose 20-year-old daughter Alexia, a Syracuse University junior, was killed in the bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Ammerman and other board members of the victims organization met at Mrs. Tsairis’ northern New Jersey home to discuss their reactions to the indictments.
Around the country, other relatives of the bomb’s victims expressed relief that individuals had been charged, but said many questions remain.
″They just caught the carriers today,″ said Oregon Rogers, whose 20-year- old daughter Louise Rogers, of Olney, Md., was killed. ″I would like to see them do something about (Syrian President Hafez) Assad, Iran and something about (Libyan leader Moammar) Gadhafi. I think these people are responsible for this.″
The bombing killed all 259 aboard the Pan Am jet, en route from London to New York, and 11 on the ground.
Initially, the investigation focused on the Syria-linked Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, and on links to Iran.
U.S. officials said Thursday there was no evidence linking Syria or Iran to the bombing. But some relatives of victims were unconvinced.
″They’re shifting the blame to the Libyans because everybody hates the Libyans,″ said Bob Berrell of Fargo, N.D., whose son Steven was among the 35 Syracuse University students on the plane.
″Maybe it’s just a coincidence that we’re now trying to be friendly with Syria, we’re trying to shine the light on Libya and take it off Syria,″ said Peter Lowenstein of Mendham, executive vice president of the victims group. His 21-year-old son, a Syracuse University senior, died in the crash.
Ammerman, whose brother Tom was among those killed, said President Bush promised his group in 1989 that if there were evidence that a government was behind the bombing, the United States would take action similar to the 1986 bombing raid on Libya.
″Mr. President, there are fingerprints of state-sponsored terrorism all over this,″ Ammerman said. Asked what response he would like to see, Ammerman said ″military action″ but would not be more specific.
He noted that the United States intervened in Panama and fought Iraq even though no American lives were lost before the fighting. ″Here were 188 Americans massacred at 31,000 feet, and our government has taken no action.″
Ammerman said his group was divided on the issue of military retaliation. And the mother of another victim said she would not favor attacking Libya.
″I don’t want to see anyone else innocent die. I just want to see the people responsible for this brought to justice,″ said Norma Maslowski of Haddonfield. Her daughter Diane, 30, died in the crash on her way home for Christmas.
Paul Hudson of Albany, N.Y., who heads a group called Families of Pan Am Flight 103-Lockerbie, said the United States and the European Community should use economic sanctions and sever air links with Libya.
″If no follow-up is done, the indictments could be meaningless,″ said Hudson, whose daughter Melina was killed.
Eileen Monetti of Cherry Hill, who lost her son Rick, 20, a Syracuse University junior, said she hoped the indictments would not lead Americans to forget the victims.
″These were real Americans,″ said Mrs. Monetti. ″They were the boy next door, the girl next door, the man down the street with three kids.″