December 21, 1988 Thirty eight minutes after takeoff from Heathrow Airport, London, the Pan Am Boeing 747 “Maid of the Seas” on its evening flight #103 , en route to New York City, explodes at 7:03 pm, 31,000 feet over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 aboard and 11 on the ground.
December 22, 1988 The New York Times publishes a photo of an “Administrative Notice” from the State Department posted in the cafeteria of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow informing State Department employees of a “Threat to Civil Aviation” : The FAA informed State that “on December 5, 1988, an unidentified individual telephoned a diplomatic facility in Europe (it was Helsinki, Finland) and stated that sometime within the next two weeks there would be a bombing attempt against a Pan American aircraft flying from Frankfurt to the United States.” (The caller, speaking English with a strong Arab accent, actually stated that operatives of the Abu Nidal terrorist organization, using a Finnish woman as an unwitting accomplice, would smuggle a bomb aboard a Pan Am flight from Frankfort to the US in December)…” the “reliability of the information cannot be assessed at this point, but… police …. Pan Am has also been notified)…”post leaves to the discretion of individual travelers any decisions on altering personal travel plans or changing to another American carrier. This does not absolve the traveler from flying an American carrier.”
Though selected government officials were alerted, pilots flying Pan Am planes were never told of this threat, let alone any passengers. Investigators ultimately determined that the caller, who had warned of other bombings that had never taken place, was probably simply trying to punish a man who had “stolen” his girl friend. But a bomb was placed on a Pan Am flight traveling from Frankfort to the United States and it did explode 16 days after the phone call.
This was the first- but unfortunately not the last -peculiar coincidence that was going to plague the investigation and make it very difficult to distinguish between reliable elements in the conspiracy that had brought down the plane from wild and self-serving theories and denials of the facts. And it revealed for the first time publicly, for everyone to see, that the policies of the FAA and the State Department withheld crucial information about serious security threats from pilots, crews and the vast majority of airline passengers.
December 28, 1988 British investigators report that a bomb in the luggage compartment caused the explosion. Because it was an American plane, the FBI, CIA and FAA rushed to send experts over to assist the senior investigating officer, John Orr. They joined Scottish Police, Army, the Royal Air Force and the dog handlers who located the bodies
Debris from the crash had spread over more than 800 square miles –from Lockerbie to the North Sea. The searchers were told: “If it’s not a rock and it’s not growing, pick it up and put it in a bag.” By Christmas Day, a piece of metal was found that FAA senior explosives expert, Walter Korsgaard, identified as the first proof a bomb had caused the explosion.
January 29, 1989 John Cardinal O’Connor organizes a Day of Prayer on our behalf in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City, personally inviting all family members to attend. This was the largest gathering of family members. Paul Hudson (father of Melina), Bert Ammerman (brother of Thomas) and Richard Hartunian (brother of Lynn) stood on the steps of the Cathedral passing out fliers announcing "the preparation of a general newsletter by and for the victim family members." and Victoria Cummock, who lost John, her" husband, best friend and father of her three very young children" handed out an open letter announcing the formation of a support group and information network for the family members only, "since we all have very many questions and have gotten few answers… from Pan Am or any of the U.S. government agencies." Victoria had already been in contact with several congressmen and independent air safety consultants.
February 6, 1989. Paul Hudson arranges our first Press Conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan because neither the White House or State Department had sent any condolences or representatives to any funerals and memorial services (whereas the British Government had to its citizens; because the Helsinki Warning had been shared with all U.S. Embassies and Pan Am, British officials and the U.S. Military in Frankfort, but not with passengers or crew flying Pan Am out of Frankfort, and because even though the FAA had known since 1986, that plastic bombs can’t be detected in checked luggage, it hadn’t established any rules for coping with this new threat, and because personal property was not being returned to the families in a timely manner.
February 19, 1989 Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 is created.
The idea for such an organization began with Paul Hudson, father of Melina Hudson a college student, returning from her term abroad. Family members who flew over to Lockerbie at Pan Am’s expense within days of the explosion, began meeting each other for the first time. The next opportunity for people to meet each other was at the Memorial Service held on January 18, in Syracuse University, for the 35 students who perished returning from their semester in London. Even though his daughter had not been a Syracuse student, Paul Hudson attended the memorial service and met with the parents afterwards, inspiring them to organize.
After the Press Conference, a group met at the home of Wendy Giebler, who had lost Jay, her husband of nine months and subsequently at the Crow’s Nest in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. where the VPAF103 was formally organized.
Though we initially banded together for emotional support, the need to learn the truth behind the bombing is what kept us going for long time. We established 4 goals early in 1989 and have worked at accomplishing them ever since:
To Seek the Truth about the bombing
To improve Aviation Security and Safety
March 14, 1989 Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 testifies in front of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Sub-Committee, the first congressional
hearing into the bombing.
April 3, 1989. On the 103rd day after the bombing, relatives and friends hold a demonstration in front of the White House. Some members of the Board are invited to meet with President Bush to request a congressional investigation into how the U.S. government handled terrorist warnings prior to Pan Am Flight 103. The rest of the afternoon, families and their friends lobby Congress. It is the first of innumerable lobbying efforts over the next 17 years.
August 4, 1989. President Bush signs an executive order creating the President’s Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism with a mission to evaluate aviation security.
May 15, 1990. The President’s Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism issues its report describing the lapses in security by Pan Am and the FAA and decried the lack of “national will” to fight terrorism. The report contained over 60 recommendations forming the basis for the Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990.
October 23, 1990. The Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990 is unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate.
November 14, 1991. Two Libyan intelligence agents, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, are indicted by the U.S. and Scotland along with other unnamed co-conspirators. The evidence suggests involvement by high level aides to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. They were indicted in relation not only to the conspiracy to bomb Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988 but also the conspiracy to bomb UTA Flight #772 which exploded over Niger on September 19, 1989. Both planes were destroyed by a semtex bomb concealed in a Bombeat radio/taperecorder inside a suitcase, the bomb triggered by triggers supplied by the Swiss company, MEBO, to the Libyan government.
Because of the thorough, dedicated work of hundreds of men and women, several critical pieces of evidence were retrieved from tons of debris: the blast damaged fragments of a copper colored Samsonite Silhoutte 4000 hardshell suitcase, the blast damaged fragment of an instruction manual for the Toshiba RT-SF16 stereo radio cassette recorder ( a model named, perhaps not coincidentally, Bombeat), the blast damaged fragment of a printed circuit board from a MEBO MST 13 timer, the blast damaged label from a “Yorkie” brand pair of trousers. A semtex bomb placed inside the recorder and triggered by the MEBO timer, had been wrapped in clothing, placed in the Samsonsite suitcase which ultimately ended up in baggage container AVE4041 where it exploded, tearing a hold in the skin of the airplane, knocking out all electric power, tearing the plane apart, sending it hurtling to earth.
The “Yorkie” label led detectives to the clothing factory and then to a shop in Malta, where the shopkeeper recalled that a Libyan man had purchased a random assortment of clothing in mid December. The shopkeeper ultimately identified Abdel Basset Ali-al-Megrahi as that Libyan man. Fhimah was in charge of Air Libya at the airport, and was indicted because of a diary which he left in his desk when he and Megrahi returned to Tripoli on December 21, 1988. The diary notes that he is to pick up Air Malta tags and also that he is to pick up Megrahi in December , flying in from Tripoli.
January 21, 1992. A resolution to force Libya to surrender the two suspects is approved by the U.N. Security Council.
April 15, 1992. The U.N. ceases all air transport links with Libya and bans sales of arms and aircraft to it in punishment for its refusal to extradite the two accused Libyans.
April 27, 1992. The civil trial against Pan Am by the relatives of the victims begins in Brooklyn New York City, Judge Platt presiding. Legal team representing the Plaintiffs were led by Lee Kreindler of Kreindler and Kreindler.
July 10, 1992. Pan Am is found guilty by a Federal District Court jury of “willful misconduct” that made the bombing possible. Pan Am appeals the guilty verdict all the way to the Supreme Court, which, three years later on January 20,1995 refuses to hear the case, thereby upholding the lower court verdicts. Pan Am Corporation is now forced to settle with the families.
August 5, 1996. President Clinton signs legislation imposing harsh economic sanctions on companies that make future investments in Iranian and Libyan petroleum ventures and vows to wage an international battle against terrorism.
August 24, 1998. Under the instigation of and leadership by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the U.S. and the U.K. propose to convene a Scottish court in the Netherlands in an effort to bring the two Libyan agents to trial.
August 26, 1998. Libya accepts the U.S. and British plan.
April 5, 1999. The two suspects are handed over to the Scottish authorities in the Netherlands. This action enables the Security Council to suspend the U.N. economic sanctions against Libya.
May 3, 2000. Trial begins at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.
January 31, 2001. Abdelbasset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is found guilty; Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, not guilty. Al-Megrahi is given the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.
1. Megrahi was found to be an agent of the Libyan Intelligence Service who carried a false passport.
2. Libya was proved to have bombed a French flight over Africa in 1989.
3. Libyan officials received 20 sophisticated bomb timers from a company called MEBO and a fragment of one of these was among the debris found at Lockerbie. The timer fragment was found along with parts of the radio in a blast-damaged fragment of a shirt manufactured in Malta and carried by Mary’s House, whose shopkeeper identified Megrahi as the purchaser of numerous articles of clothing that were forensically determined to have been in the bomb bag.
4. Megrahi had business relations with MEBO, shared a business address with that company, and had experience with explosives using these timers.
5. Megrahi travelled to Malta on Dec. 7, 1988, the time that the owner of Mary’s House said he sold a random assortment of clothing ??6. Fhimah’s diary documented that he had accomplished the task of obtaining luggage tags from Air Malta, and his access badge indicated that he used it in December 1988. His diary also mentions going to meet with Megrahi.
6. Fhimah and Megrahi traveled from Libya to Malta together on the evening of Dec. 20, 1988.
7. Megrahi used his false passport and stayed in Malta less than 24 hours before returning to Libya. He never used that false passport again.
Additional evidence revealed during the course of the eight month trial:
“A summary of the world-wide sales figures for Toshiba RTSF16 stereo radio cassette recorders from October 1985 to March 1989 …shows that Libya (purchased) almost 76% of that model from Toshiba between October 1988 and March 1989.
Mr. Bollier (the “Bo” in MEBO) in his testimony for the prosecution at the Lockerbie Trial in June of 2000, stated in 1991 to Scottish and American detectives , that he only sold this model timer to Libya (in 1993 after Libya offered him a loan of 1.8 million dollars, he suddenly recalled he had sold MST 13 timers to the Stasi as well); he delivered radio devices and 20 timers to Libya in 1986 into the hands of Abdelbaset Megrahi, a man Bollier believed to be a Major in the Libyan Intelligence Services.
Bollier taught Libyan military people in the autumn of 1987 in Libya, how to prevent bombs from exploding prematurely. In December of 1988 he tried to deliver and collect payment on 40 more MST 13 timers. He flew to Tripoli on December 18 and booked a return flight on December 20 from Tripoli to Malta on the very same flight that al-Megrahi and al-Fhimah were on. Bollier changed his plans and returned to Zurich on a direct flight. He claims that he did not meet with Abdelbaset. He claims that no one paid him for his timers.
The “Yorkie” brand label on a pair of trousers, led detectives to the factory which led them to Mary’s House, in the town of Slima on the island of Malta. Mary’s House was the clothing shop where the clothing surrounding the Toshiba stereo recorder bomb had been purchased. The shopkeeper, Anthony Gauci, told the police who came to see him for the first time in September 1989, that he had sold two pairs of Yorkie trousers –one bearing the identical order number to the fragment found in Lockerbie - to a Libyan man in December 1988 a fortnight before Christmas. What struck him at the time as peculiar, was that the man also bought a random assortment of clothing, obviously not for any particular person. Anthony Gauci assisted in an artist’s rendering of what the Libyan had looked like in September 1989, picked out the face of al-Megrahi among a group of photographs in February of 1991, picked him out in an identification parade of persons in April 1999, and then, ultimately pointed him out in the dock during the trial in Kamp Zeist in 2000. The judges wrote: “he was entirely credible.. doing his best to tell the truth to the best of his recollection…We are satisfied that his identification of the first accused as the purchaser was reliable and should be treated as highly important evidence in this case.”
Mr. Gauci was NOT PAID before his evidence was accepted by the Court and helped lead to Mr. Megrahi’s conviction. He was not a “paid witness.” (The FBI did offer a 4 Million dollar award to anyone who could help solve the Pan Am case as an incentive to encourage people who had crucial evidence to contribute to contact them.) Mr. Gauci was a difficult and reluctant witness according to Alistair Campbell Q. C, who had the delicate assignment of questioning Mr. Gauci on the stand on day 31 of the trial.. He had not wanted to become involved. He had not been willing to come to the police office.
There are two more pieces of circumstantial evidence that led to the unanimous verdict of guilty before three judges and the upholding of the guilty verdict one year later on appeal before five new judges. Al-Megrahi as a member of the Libyan External Security Organization, traveled with a coded passport, one with a false name that he had been given: Achmed Khalifa Abdusamad. It was this passport that Megrahi used to travel to and fro Malta . (among many other places). This false passport was issued in June of 1987 and was used five times in that year. The next time it was used was December 20, 1988. The last time it was used was December 21, 1988. “If it were being used to purchase airplane spare parts, why did he travel every single month in the last half of 1987 and not again for eleven months in 1988? How come it’s only on the 20th of December that they need a spare part? And how come it’s to Malta that he went for that spare part, the very place and date the bomb was packaged and placed on the aircraft?” (another problem: he used his real name passport on journeys to purchase spare parts for aircraft). (Alan Turnbull, Q.C. from presentation made to the families in a post trial briefing on March 5, 2001 in Baltimore, Md. as reported in Truth Quest, the quarterly publication of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103..
Mr. Turnbull went on to quote from the answers al-Megrahi made to Pierre Salinger in an interview filmed for t.v. in 1991, in the security of his home in Tripoli, Libya, confident that Qaddafi would never send him to stand trial after indictments were served against him and al-Fhimah. First he denied that he worked for the Libyan Security Service. “I’m surprised that they told me this. In our family and even in our society here, you have to feel ashamed to work for the intelligence service. It’s not acceptable to work for those people, you see.”
“They say that you stayed at the Holiday Inn, Malta on the night of December 20,21 December ,1988. “I wasn’t in Malta on that date” “Where were you?” “.Here, in Tripoli.”
Problem. The prosecution had the Maltese Immigration Card showing the arrival on 20th December 1988 in Malta of Megrahi using his Abdusamad passport And the prosecution also had in evidence, his registration card at the Holiday Inn for the night of December 20, registering under the same false name of Abdusamad.
Megrahi never took the stand to offer an explanation for his explicit lies to Salinger, nor the use of that passport on those two crucial dates nor why he never made use of it again. So the film served as the cross examination that Alan Turnbull wasn’t able to conduct. Megrahi’s lies remain un-explained to this day.
Under Scottish law, there must be three pieces of evidence the Court accepts as reliable. After they ruled against admitting the testimony of a double agent who said that Fhimah had shown him the semtex in his desk, and also saw him carrying the Samonsite suitcase on the evening of December 20, 1988 across the airport in Malta having arrived with Megrahi from Tripoli, Libya., they were left with only the evidence of Fhimah’s diary. Under Scottish law, they had the option of choosing Not Proven as a verdict; they chose Not Guilty.
February 8, 2001. Families meet with Secretary of State Colin Powell, the Department of Justice and four Senators in Washington D.C. We were reassured that our Justice Department will continue to follow evidence wherever it leads; that our government will pressure Libya to fulfill the remaining requirements of the United Nations Security Council namely, to accept responsibility for the actions of its officials, to pay appropriate compensation to the families and to cooperate with the Justice Department in its work to learn all the facts in the conspiracy to bomb Pan Am Flight 103.
September 11, 2001. The Chief Executive and Convener of the Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scotland, sends a personal letter from Lockerbie to President Bush and Mayors Guiliani and Williams, expressing their heartfelt sympathy. “The scale of your tragedy is unimaginable, but the individual trauma of the victims and the community is familiar to us and fills us with deep sadness. We received comfort and support from America following the Lockerbie Air Disaster in December 1988..Flags are at half mast here this week.”
Individual family members responded personally and professionally. Kathy Daniels Tedeschi, Mary Lou Cuilla and Mary Kay Stratis formed on going counseling groups with the newly created widows and widowers.
January 23, 2002. Appeal trial of Al-Megrahi begins at Kamp Van Zeist.
March 14, 2002. Decision of the five High Court Appeal judges at Kamp Van Zeist in the Netherlands. “ We have concluded that none of the grounds of (Al-Megrahi’s) appeal is well founded. The appeal will be accordingly refused. This brings the proceedings to an end.” Al Megrahi was flown to a Scottish prison to begin serving a minimum 20 year sentence.
May 23, 2002. A Memorandum of Understanding was reached between American and Libyan lawyers in which Libya agreed to pay $10 million per decedent in three installments: the first $4 million linked to the lifting of the UN Sanctions, the second $4 million to the lifting of the US unilateral sanctions and the final $2 million when Libya is removed from the US State Department List of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
September 12, 2003. The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1506 voting 13-0 with two abstentions (The United States and France) to lift its sanctions against Libya.
September, 2003. Libya pays the first $4 million installment to the families.
November, 2003. Megrahi’s sentence was fixed by the original trial judges to a minimum of 27 years served before parole can be considered. This was increased from the original minimum of 20 years. Megrahi appealed this period. He had also asked the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to investigate his case; this investigation has been going on since October 2002.
December 18, 2003. President Bush announced that Colonel Gaddafi has “publicly confirmed his commitment to disclose and dismantle all weapons of mass destruction programs in his country.”
April 23, 2004. U.S lifts its economic embargo against Libya.
December, 2004. Libya pays second $4 million installment.
April, 2005. Libya withdraws the remaining money from the escrow account since it had not been removed from the US State Department List of State Sponsors of Terrorism. (The US State Department had refused to do so, because Gaddafi had been discovered to have instigated a plot to assassinate the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and because the Libyan government had arrested five nurses from Bulgaria and a doctor from Palestine who had come to Libya to assist in health care in 1999, charging them with deliberately infecting children with AIDS. The nurses and doctor were tortured, imprisoned for eight years, sentenced to death by firing squad. They were finally freed in July 2007, flown to Bulgaria where they were pardoned. The European Union paid 461 Million Euros into a Benghazi Hospital fund. Libya also received lucrative antitank and civil nuclear technology contracts with France. In April 2009, the nurses and doctor sued the government of Libya for financial compensation for their ordeal.)
September 16, 2005. Lobbying day on the Hill. Eleven family members meet with people representing the State Department, Senators Lautenberg, Lugar and Biden and Congressman Lantos. We demanded that Libya should only be removed from the State Department List when they fully comply with U.S. specific requirements which must include full and final compensation to the families as agreed to at the U.N. in September 2003. The State Department told the family members that it will not act as an agent for us; it is a legal arrangement between the families and the Libyan government. The Bush administration is moving ahead with re-establishing full diplomatic ties with Libya.
May 15, 2006. The Bush Administration announceds that it will re-establish full diplomatic ties with Libya. It removes Libya from the List even though Libya has yet to make the final payment of $2 million per decedent.
May 24, 2006.Family members return to the Hill. They are joined by lawmakers from New York, which lost 58 and New Jersey, which lost 38 people on Pan Am Flight 103. Senators Lautenberg, Menendez, Kennedy, Clinton, Lieberman, Schumer and Biden and Congressmen Ferguson and Andrews submit resolutions blocking U.S. diplomatic ties to Libya until it completes restitution to the families. Over 75 Representatives, Republicans and Democrats, sign the resolution.
2007 British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in a parting act, signs a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya but claims that the Lockerbie bomber was not a consideration in negotiating this treaty. The Scottish government, new to its independence under devolution, protests that it was now responsible for its own foreign policy and did not want to be included in this Prisoner Transfer Agreement, which to them clearly covered Megrahi, the only Libyan residing in a Scottish prison. The British government claimed that it was not able to negotiate the exclusion of Scotland from coverage under the Agreement, but said that the decision to cover Megrahi was for the Scots to make. It was later claimed by UK officials as well as Col. Gadhafi’s son, Saif Gadhafi, that the Agreement was always designed to include Megrahi.
Jack Straw, The British Secretary of State for Justice negotiates with Libya in the summer of 2007, a new Agreement allowing prisoners to be returned to their respective nations. The original formulation specifically excluded al-Megrahi by name until suddenly in December 2007, Straw withdrew Megrahi’s name, making him eligible for exchange and so informed MacAskill.
“The wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical state, and in view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom, I have agreed that in this instance the PTA should…not mention any individual, ”
August, 2008. Congress passes The U.S./Libya Claims Resolution Act, re-opening the final payment.
October 31, 2008. The State Department announces that all of the settlement funds were transferred from the Humanitarian Fund to the U.S. account for the U.S. plaintiffs.
November 15, 2008. Scottish judges reject an appeal for early release due to Megrah’s diagnoses of incurable prostate cancer
November 25, 2008. Third and final payment received from Libya.
April 29, 2009. Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission began hearing claims that Megrahi’s guilty verdict was based on circumstantial evidence.
May 6, 2009. Libya officially applies to the Scottish Government to transfer Mr. Megrahi to serve out the rest of his 27 year sentence in Libya. In order to be considered for such a transfer, Megrahi has to drop his appeal to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and let the guilty verdict stand uncontested.
The British government appeares to wash their hands of the decision to release Megrahi, so the question fell to the Scottish Minister for Justice, Kenny MacAskill. To be eligible for release under the Prisoner Transfer Agreement, there can be no pending legal action, and Megrahi had been reluctant to give up his latest appeal, launched as a result of a recommendation of the Scottish Criminal Review Commission. His attorneys did, however, seek to have him released under a provision of Scottish law governing “compassionate release,” whenever a prisoner is within three months of death. Claiming terminal prostate cancer, Megrahi had applied for such a release the previous November, but a court determined that his prostate cancer was not as advanced as claimed. Six months later, Megrahi and his attorneys mounted another effort, with much support from the tabloids, a Scottish Member of Parliament, a retired law professor who had been pleading Megrahi’s case for years, and even from some victims’ families in Scotland, to declare him to be within the required three months of death. Some physicians, paid for by Libya, found him to be terminally ill but never produced a medical report.
With pressure mounting, MacAskill tells the Scottish Parliament that he will make a decision to release Megrahi either under the provisions of the Prisoner Transfer Agreement or under compassionate relief.
June 20, 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder telephones MacAskill and states that the U.S. is opposed to Megrahi’s release, that there has been an agreement among nations that the prisoner would serve his term in Scotland, and that if released, Megrahi would return to “a hero’s welcome in Libya.” During a state visit to Africa, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also telephoned MacAskill with a similar message, and the White House made it known to MacAskill that President Obama was opposed to the release of Megrahi. The families of the American victims also made their case in a teleconference with MacAskill from the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the Consulate in New York. MacAskill told the victims’ families that he would tell them his decision before they read it in the press. The families thought that they had been convincing enough in their teleconference and that their wishes would prevail.
August 18, 2009 Megrahi receives permission to withdraw his appeal,
August 19, 2009 John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Terrorism, speaks to MacAskill at the behest of the President and comes away from the conversation not knowing what MacAskill will do. However, he has been assured through diplomatic channels that the Libyans would not stage any “celebratory activities” if Megrahi’s release to Libya takes place.
“I was the last US official to speak to MacAskill the afternoon he made his announcement. He gave me no indication of what he had decided to do. I strongly urged him that if he were to release Megrahi, do not do it until after September 1 –“Libyan Revolution Day” That conversation took place at 1:45 on Wednesday August 19.” (from conversation with Board of VPAF103 September 22, 2009).
August 20, 2009 MacAskill’s announcement stated that he was not releasing Megrahi under the Prisoner Transfer Agreement between the UK and Libya, because Megrahi had been found guilty by the three judges in the trial at Camp Zeist, and the guilty verdict had been upheld a year later by five new judges.?However, MacAskill went on to declare that he was releasing Megrahi on “Grounds of Compassion” because he “might die within three months from terminal prostate cancer,” and refused to consider transferring him elsewhere in Scotland because security would be too difficult. He based his decision on a report of several Libyan-paid physicians that Megrahi had three months to live. Pertinent parts of the medical report have not been made public.
At the time MacAskill was holding a press conference, Megrahi was on his way home to a hero’s welcome in Saif Qadaffi’s private plane. The promise of “no celebratory activity” was “honored” by parades and demonstrations in Libya. The timing coincided with the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the revolution that brought Gadhafi to power.
FBI Director Robert Mueller, breaking a lifelong practice of not commenting on another prosecutor’s case, wrote a very strong protest to MacAskill calling the release a “miscarriage of justice.”
August 30, 2009 The Sunday Times of England published an article entitled Secret Letters Reveal Labour’s Libyan Deal
(BP’s) search for oil off Libya and in a 20,000 –mile area in the west of the country (of Libya) potentially offers as much as 15 Billion pounds in new revenue…BP was finally given the go-ahead six weeks after a volte-face by the British government to include Megrahi in a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya under which prisoners could serve out sentences in their home countries. Jack Straw, the justice secretary, revealed this decision in a letter to his Scottish counterpart. He cited “wider negotiations” and the “overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom”…
“The detailed correspondence seen by The Sunday Times confirms that the Lockerbie bomber’s fate was regarded by the UK government as pivotal to relations with Libya. It also shows how anxious the government was to curry favor with Colonel Muammar Gadaffi by being seen to open the way for Megrahi’s release. …
“The Libyans insisted that Megrahi must be covered by the prisoner transfer agreement. The government relented and Straw was forced into a U-turn. “I have not been able to secure an explicit exclusion,” he wrote .. to Kenny MacAskill…I have agreed ..the (prisoner transfer agreement) should be in the standard form and not mention any individual.” Six weeks later BP announced its deal had been ratified….
“ In an interview published yesterday, Megrahi, who insists he is innocent, said, “We all want to know the truth. I support the issue of a public inquiry.”
September 23, 2009 Official opening of the UN General Assembly. Colonel. Gadhafi was going to appear for the first time at the UN and to deliver a speech immediately following President Obama.. In protest, ALFA –The American Libyan Freedom Alliance organized a demonstration across the street from the U.N. About 40 family members of the Pan Am Flight 103 stood along side Libyan expatriate groups who have had family members killed and kidnapped by the Gadhafi regime during the past 40 years. People were there from Northern Ireland whose families members were murdered as a result of explosives and weapons provided to the IRA by Libyans for many years.
Murdering 270 people in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 is only the most notorious crime the Gadhafi regime has committed during its 40 year reign of terror at home as well as abroad.
November 20, 2009 On the three-month anniversary of the day al Megrahi was supposed to succumb to prostate cancer, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) calls for the return of Megrahi to a Scottish jail..
August 20, 2009 Megrahi, violating his agreement when he relinquished his Appeal and accepted the guilty verdict, immediately began using the press to protest his innocence. He has been joined by some members of the press, especially in Great Britain, challenging the integrity of the entire investigation and court decisions.
January 6, 2010 BBC aired a program on its Newsnight series in which it was charged that some of the crucial evidence used to convict Megrahi could not have existed. The team of Scottish lawyers who prosecuted the case wrote to the BBC to correct their misinformation. Letter in full follows at September 29 entry.
March 2010 Megrahi blocks release of medical reports which he is required to provide every month to the East Renfrewshire Council. He also refuses video link, which are also required under the release agreement. He only agrees to phone conversations with the doctors who are supposed to be monitoring his “terminal” prostate cancer.
June 2010 By coincidence, two new plays about the Lockerbie case are performed in England and Scotland. “The Families of Lockerbie” by Michael Eaton, was performed at the Nottingham Playhouse with fictional characters dramatizing the conflicting views of American and British families. The majority of American families believe that Megrahi is guilty as charged and his release a grievous insult. The majority of British families appear to believe that his conviction represents a miscarriage of justice. And a one man play written and performed by David Benson “Lockerbie: Unfinished Business” based on Dr. Jim Swire’s unpublished book of the same name was staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Dr. Swire, whose daughter Flora died in Pan Am 103, has been the leader of the UK Family Group and has never accepted the verdict of two Scottish courts that al Megrahi, acting on behalf of the Libyan Government of Colonel Gadhafi is guilty as charged for assembling and getting the bomb on board Pan Am Flight 103.. Dr. Swire continues to lead a campaign calling for a public inquiry to reopen the case.
(This article lists the evidence considered by the appellate judges, not just the original verdict but whatever else the defense could raise. The court considered them all. Scotland's most senior judge said: "For the reasons given in the judgment, in which we all concur, we have concluded that none of the grounds of appeal is well founded. ")
July 19, 2010 Senator Schumer holds a press conference at Syracuse University at the memorial to the victims of Pan Am Flight 103, calling for a US Senate investigation whether BP’s acknowledged lobbying on behalf of Libya influenced the decision to release al Megrahi on compassionate grounds.. BP, as a company that does business in the US (and had recently captured the attention of the US with the eco-catastrophe of the oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico ) can be prosecuted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Three family members spoke: Martha Alderman Boyer (sister of Paula Bouckley and sister-in-law of Glenn Bouckley) Linda Smith (sister of Suzanne Miazga) and Helen Engelhardt (wife of Tony Hawkins).
Prime Minister Cameron. visiting the US later that month, called the release “completely and utterly” wrong but refused to call for his government to look into BP’s role. He agreed to meet with Senator Lautenberg but not with Schumer or Menendez, also calling for an investigation.
August 16, 2010 Doctors who were treating Megrahi publicly state that they were not asked for their opinion about his life expectancy and were surprised to learn that the convicted mass murderer was being sent back home to Libya. “These revelations have led to fresh calls for al-Megrahi’s full medical records to be released amid allegations that the Scottish government had been guilty of a “sage of contradictions, confusion and broken promises.”
August 17, 2010 Professor Roger Kirby, a consultant urologist at St. George’s Hospital in London goes on the record saying that “Chemotherapy extends lives up to three years. (Megrahi) is in such chemotherapy in Libya. He should have received that chemotherapy in jail, not back in Libya.”
August 20, 2010 –First anniversary of Megrahi’s release –a flurry of attention from the press calling family members in the US on how they feel about the fact that Megrahi is still alive and well enough to be reputed working on his memoirs!.
MacAskill states “I acted appropriately and I stand by my decision.” Refuses to meet with US Senators but will talk with them if they travel to Scotland.
B.P. in a public release: “It is a matter of pubic record that in late 2997, BP told UK gov. they were concerned about the slow progress on obtaining a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya. This is likely to have a negative impact on UK’s commercial interests and the ratification by Libyan Government of BP’s exploration agreement.”
(BP is the biggest company in Britain and the fifth biggest on Earth Sir Mark Allen, former head of the counterterrorism department of Britain’s M16 intelligence service, retired from that post to become a senior executive in British Petroleum.)
September 29, 2010 Senator Menendez convenes the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to explore the circumstances which led to Megrahi’s release.
LOOKING INTO THE AL-MEGRAHI RELEASE ONE YEAR LATER
(from the Crown Office of Scotland)
Following the broadcast of the Newsnight program on 6 January we did specifically advise the BBC before the second screening that the program inaccurately described the piece of clothing as containing a label which said "Made in Malta" and we provided them with the information described in the statement below about explosive tests which had been carried out in 1989, the results of which were clearly inconsistent with what were reported as Dr Wyatt's findings.
The statement we released is referred to in the 7 January program. We enclose a copy of the full statement for your information:
On 6 January 2010, the BBC’s Newsnight reported claims regarding the timer fragment (PT 35), which formed part of the case against the convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.
The report included an interview with a consultant, Dr John Wyatt, who suggested that it was unlikely that the timer fragment survived the mid-air explosion over Lockerbie.
The trial court accepted evidence that the PT 35 fragment was part of the timer which had detonated the explosion on Pan Am Flight 103.
A Crown Office spokesperson said:??"The only appropriate forum for the determination of guilt or innocence is the criminal court. Mr Megrahi was convicted unanimously by three senior judges following trial and his conviction was upheld unanimously by five judges, in an Appeal Court presided over by the Lord Justice General, Scotland’s most senior judge. Mr Megrahi remains convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity in UK history.
Dr John Wyatt has never examined the timer fragment (PT 35) or the piece of clothing from which it was extracted by forensic experts, later identified as part of a shirt sold to a Libyan man in Malta two weeks before the bombing. Crown Office has not seen any report of Dr Wyatt’s findings, nor were we approached by the BBC for any comment. Had the BBC asked the Crown for a comment, it would have been possible to identify the errors in the report, including the inaccurate description of the piece of clothing as containing a label which said “Made in Malta”.??The steps taken by the police to identify the origin of the fragment were described in evidence to the trial court at Camp Zeist and conclusive forensic evidence proved that the fragment was part of the timer in the Improvised Explosive Device (IED), a Toshiba radio cassette recorder, at the time of the explosion which destroyed Pan Am 103.??It was reported in the program that tests carried out by Dr Wyatt suggest that the fragment was unlikely to have survived the mid-air explosion and that the radio used in his tests “totally disintegrated” and “went into tiny, tiny bits”.
In fact, extensive explosives tests were carried out in the United States in 1989, some time before the fragment PT35 was extracted by the forensic experts, as part of the Lockerbie investigation. The purpose of these tests was:
· to estimate the amount and location of the explosives used on PA103;
· to establish the extent of damage to the improvised explosive device (“IED”), the adjacent suitcases and their contents;
· to ascertain what parts of the IED and its contents it was possible to recover and identify.
After a number of test explosions a detailed search was made and circuit board fragments, radio cassette casing and parts, fragments of instruction manual, the suitcase and clothing were all recovered in a condition which was consistent with the debris recovered in relation to the Lockerbie disaster.??The forensic evidence placed before the court included:
· Evidence about the appearance of the fragment;
· The fact that when it was recovered, it was embedded within a fragment of a blast damaged grey Slalom brand shirt, which had been found in Newcastleton, Roxburghshire on 13 January 1989 and which in the opinion of the scientists, had been packed within the suitcase housing the IED (the “primary suitcase”); This piece of shirt did not, contrary to the claims made in the BBC program, contain a label saying “Made in Malta”.
· Also embedded within that same clothing fragment were pieces of a Toshiba RT-SF 16 radio cassette recorder owner’s manual. Separately, another fragment of the owner’s manual was found on 22 December 1988 in Morpeth, Northumberland;
· The fragments of the owner's manual recovered from the grey Slalom shirt by the forensic scientists were found to have come from parts of the same page of the same manual, close to one another".
(addressed to the American families)
When we wrote to you in August and October of 2009 we indicated that the case was under review, and we thought it might be helpful to provide you all with a brief update as to where things stand, as a number of you have been in contact with us about this.
Dumfries and Galloway Police are continuing to review the material held in relation to the case, with a view to establishing if any new investigative opportunities exist, as the Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway Police indicated in a press release on 26 October 2009. We had a brief meeting in December 2009 with the police officers involved to discuss progress, and another one is scheduled to take place in March 2010.
As you will all know from our recent communications this does not relate to the case against Mr Megrahi but to others who may be implicated in the crime. As with all major criminal cases, it remains under the direction of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and any further information that it is possible to provide on the status of the review, without of course prejudicing potential lines of further inquiry, will come from COPFS rather than Dumfries and Galloway Police.
December 13, 2010 As the 22nd anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 approaches, Megrahi remains alive a year and one month longer than he was supposed to survive.
On December 21, 1988
400 parents lost children
46 of them –their only child
65 women were widowed
11 men became widowers
140 children lost a parent
7 children lost both parents