Pan Am 103 Families Seek Justice
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Families of victims of the Pan Am 103 bombing told Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday that they expect a stern U.S. response against Libya if last week’s conviction of a Libyan agent in the 1988 attack withstands an appeal.
About 50 representatives of the victims met with Powell to take stock of the situation following the conviction of intelligence agent Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi by a special Scottish Court sitting in the Netherlands. An alleged accomplice was acquitted.
Aphrodite Tsaris of Franklin Lakes, N.J., whose daughter, Alexia, died in the bombing, said she recommended a naval blockade of Libya if the appeal fails.
In response, Powell made no commitments, saying there are a lot of options, she said.
Bob Monetti of Cherry Hill, N.J., whose son, Rick, was killed, said, ``We will be on top of them (U.S. officials) regularly. We’ll be back here in six months when the appeal is over to ask Powell what he’s going to do next.″
George Williams, of Joppatowne, Md., who lost his son, George, said that if the appeal fails, ``I expect our government to keep the pressure on long and hard, and to put the pressure on the U.N. to reimpose sanctions because he (Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi) is a pariah.
``We know that he (al-Megrahi) didn’t do this on his own. There are no free-lancers in a totalitarian government. He had orders.″
Gadhafi has been scornful of the conviction, accusing the judges of a political cop-out. But he has failed to produce evidence he maintained would vindicate the defendant.
Al-Megrahi’s lawyer filed the appeal Wednesday and now has six weeks to submit a detailed argument with documentation on why the conviction should be overturned. A judge would then be appointed to decide whether the case should go before an appellate panel.
The Dec. 21, 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, killed 270 persons, including 11 on the ground.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that now that the verdicts are in, Powell wanted to consult with the families and discuss next steps.
U.N. sanctions against Libya, including a ban on air travel in and out of the country, were imposed in 1992 and were suspended _ but not lifted _ in 1999 when the two Libyans were turned over for trial.
Williams said Powell reaffirmed to the family members that the U.N. sanctions would remain in place until Gadhafi admits complicity, pays compensation to the families and renounces terrorism.
Dan Cohen of Cape May Courthouse, N.J., who lost his daughter, Theo, said a majority of the families are less interested in compensation than in obtaining an admission of responsibility from Gadhafi.
But Monetti said he favors compensation even though, he said, most family members would feel uncomfortable about accepting money.
``The reason people use terrorism is that it is a very cheap way to get your point across,″ he said. ``What we’ve tried to do all along is to make this more expensive. The more money he pays out the more expensive it will be.″
Rosemary Wolfe, of Alexandria, Va., whose stepdaughter, Miriam, was killed, said she was encouraged by a Powell statement that he would not rule out future indictments in the case.
``To me this is very important,″ she said. ``We have only got the tip of the iceberg with Magrahi. We got one of them. It took 12 years. But I’m sure glad to hear the State Department make this commitment.″
On the Net: State Department Near East bureau: http://www.state.gov/www/regions/nea/index.html