Lockerbie Spokesman Urges Patience
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ A relative of one of the passengers killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 urged all sides to wait for the final verdict before passing any judgment on the case.
``The right position now is to wait and see the appeals process,″ Jim Swire said Sunday at the conclusion of a two-day Arab League conference at which the initial trial verdict was bitterly criticized. Swire’s daughter, Flora, died in the bombing.
On Jan. 31, a Scottish court in the Netherlands convicted Libyan Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and sentenced him to life imprisonment for planting the bomb that blew up the jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. The court acquitted his co-defendant, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, a Libyan Arab Airlines official, of all charges.
Academics and politicians at the conference condemned the verdict. A statement at the end of the conference strongly condemned the verdict and asked for al-Megrahi’s release. It said al-Megrahi was convicted ``solely on political grounds.″
But Swire, a spokesman for a group of some of the victims’ relatives, said the main concern remains finding the truth behind the disaster.
``My eldest daughter was killed on the flight the day before her 24th birthday. Out of respect for her memory I have to fight for the truth. This verdict was provisional. We are still to find out if al-Megrahi was one of the people responsible,″ the retired doctor told The Associated Press.
The conference statement also asked the United States and Great Britain to negotiate with Libya on normalizing relations, and for Libya to be compensated for damages from international sanctions imposed after the bombing.
The sanctions, including an air embargo, were suspended after Libya handed over the two indicted men in 1999. The United States and Britain have called for Libya to acknowledge responsibility for the bombing and pay compensation before the measures are scrapped.