Lockerbie victim’s relative questions whether bomb suspect should be tried in US

Lockerbie victim’s relative questions whether bomb suspect should be tried in US
Abu Agila Masud, center, sits behind bars during a hearing in a courtroom in Tripoli, Libya, Nov. 16, 2014. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 December 2022

Lockerbie victim’s relative questions whether bomb suspect should be tried in US

Lockerbie victim’s relative questions whether bomb suspect should be tried in US
  • Dr. Jim Swire claims case has too many ‘loose ends’ to be fairly tried in America or Scotland
  • Other families disagree, with one claiming trial would represent ‘justice’

LONDON: A campaigner for the victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing has said the man accused of making the explosives should be tried in a court determined by the UN.

Abu Agila Masud was reported to be in custody in the US a month after he was allegedly abducted from his home in Libya.

But Dr. Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town which claimed the lives of 270 people, said that Masud should not be tried in the US or Scotland, with doubts abounding over his role in the atrocity.

“There are so many loose ends that hang from this dreadful case, largely emanating from America, that I think we should remember what (former president of South Africa Nelson) Mandela said to the world and to us then, and seek a court that is free of being beholden to any nation directly involved in the atrocity itself,” Swire told BBC Radio Scotland.

“I think (the trial) should not take place in America. I think, in view of what we now know about how Scotland handled the case, it should not take place in Scotland.

“What we’ve always been after amongst the British relatives is the truth and not a fabrication that might seem to be replacing the truth.”

Not all the families agree with Swire, however.

Kara Weipz, whose brother Richard Monetti was killed in the atrocity, told BBC Scotland: “This is what the families have been fighting for, for almost 34 years — they’ve been fighting for justice, to see those who are guilty of this crime be held accountable.

“To know now there’s going to be a trial … there is a sense of justice for our loved ones. It’s a victory in that sense. At the same time it doesn’t change the fact that our loved ones were murdered and they’re not here with us.”

Her father, Bob Monetti, added: “If it’s in the US, and especially Washington D.C., there’ll be a lot of press coverage and people will hear what’s going on. There will be no confusion about what happened.”

The only man ever convicted of involvement in the bombing, Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, was tried in the Netherlands and released from his life sentence in the UK on compassionate grounds in 2009 after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, dying in Libya in 2012.

However, doubts abound over his true involvement in the event, as well as Masud’s, who is said to have confessed to involvement in the bombing whilst in a Libyan jail accused of bomb-making. Megrahi twice appealed against his sentence and always maintained his innocence.

Megrahi’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said that Masud’s confession would be “strongly opposed” in any US or Scottish court as the warlord who was holding him in jail at the time had a track record of “human rights abuses.”

A spokesperson for the US Justice Department told Reuters that Masud would make an initial appearance in a federal court in Washington D.C.