31 AUGUST 2009
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There are certain events in one’s life that are remembered well. For yours truly it was the night that John F. Kennedy died, but there is also another tragic date that is not far from one’s memory.
On Wednesday 21 December 1988, a Pam Am Boeing 747-100 was blown out of the sky over Lockerbie by a bomb deliberately planted on the aircraft.
That evening there was a news flash on the TV, probably at eight thirty when the programmes changed over, followed shortley by the shrill ringing of the telephone. It was Chris Wain, the then BBC Defence and Transport Correspondent, a former army officer.
Chris was brief. In those days the main news was at nine and he had little time to prepare what would be the headline item for that evening.
“You’ve heard the news Malcolm, any ideas? Pan Am are refusing to comment and all Boeing will give is the serial number of the aircraft.”
I take no pride in suggesting that it could have been a bomb and Wain confirmed that others were thinking that way too.
He made a fine presentation less than 30 minutes later, without actually committing himself to the actual cause of the crash.
Move on 21 years and the man found guilty in the Scottish Court (which sat in Camp Zeist, Netherlands (for political reasons) is released on humanitarian grounds. It is said he is dying of cancer.
Outrage in America. Jubilation in Libya. And a cautious statement by Westminster.
Colonel Gaddafi got it entirely wrong. Most even minded people would have been disgusted with the homecoming celebrations.
If Abdel Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi is guilty then in the view of AERBT he should have stayed in jail. He would have murdered 270 people. The question is was the verdict safe?
We have renamed ON TOUR “REFLECTIONS” this week and it is written by the distinguished aviation lawyer Humphrey Dawson, who has taken a great interest in the tragedy and argues that there may have been a miscarriage of justice.
Readers must come to their own conclusions regarding Lockerbie. Is Al Megrahi guilty? He could never have done the deed by himself. If it was him who were his accomplices? And if not who masterminded the whole plot? Will we ever know the truth?
Lockerbie is a nasty reminder that we must be ever vigilant in the war against terrorism.
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