Families ‘horrified’ at announcement on Lockerbie bombing anniversary

The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people, spurred global investigations and produced sanctions against Libya.

Families ‘horrified’ at announcement on Lockerbie bombing anniversary PA Media

The US Justice Department is expected to unseal charges in connection with the Lockerbie bombing on the 32nd anniversary of the tragedy.

The bombing of Pan Am flight 103 on December 21, 1988, killed 270 people in Britain’s largest terrorist atrocity.

Now, outgoing attorney general William Barr is scheduled to hold a public announcement on Monday and has invited the victims’ families to watch the briefing live via an online stream.

However, some of the families have said they are “horrified at the intrusion on their grief, on a day that they wish to remember their loved ones”.

The move was also described as “grandstanding” as Barr, who is set to leave his position next week, held the same job when the Justice Department revealed criminal charges nearly 30 years ago against intelligence officials.

Rev. John Mosey, the father of 19-year-old victim Helga Mosey, received an email from the Lockerbie appeal team at Scotland’s Crown Office, which forwarded the invitation from the US Department of Justice.

In response, Rev. Mosey said he considered the “timing and particularly the choice of this specific day, which is special to many of us, to be bizarre, disrespectful, insensitive and extremely ill considered”.

He added: “Why exactly, when the attorney general is about to leave office, has he waited 32 years to bring charges?”

“Why would you use the anniversary of our daughter Helga’s death along with 269 others to parade once more a highly suspect prosecution.”

Aftermath: Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of the bombing.AAIB / Getty Images

The New York-bound flight exploded over Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway less than an hour after take-off from London.

One man — former Libyan intelligence official Abdelbaset al-Megrahi — was convicted of mass murder, and a second Libyan suspect was acquitted of all charges.

Al-Megrahi was given a life sentence, however Scottish authorities released him on humanitarian grounds in 2009 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He later died in Tripoli.

A panel of five appeal judges is currently deliberating on whether to acquit the late al-Megrahi over the bombing following the conclusion of the third appeal against his conviction.

Lawyer Aamer Anwar, who represents the families of al-Megrahi and Rev. Mosey, as well as Dr Jim Swire who lost his daughter Flora in the bombing, said: “The families I represent are horrified at the intrusion on their grief, on the day that they wish to remember their loved ones. 

“The fact that the outgoing attorney general William Barr thinks it is appropriate to invite families to watch his ‘grandstanding’ at a press conference is deeply disrespectful to the families and victims.

“Many of the families will refuse to do so and suspect the motivation of choosing to prosecute 32 years after the bombing.”

The Wall Street Journal and New York Times have named Abu Agila Mas’ud as the suspect expected to be charged.

Ali Megrahi,  al-Megrahi’s son, said: “Where were they in the past 32 years, especially when we have been fighting for an appeal over the last six years, so why release this information now? 

“They want to perpetuate lies against Libya and will not let us live in peace. I lost my father and yet America continues to cause our family as well as those of the victims more pain.

“As for the American families of the victims of this atrocity, you lost loved ones and I lost my father. 

“I am not against what you are doing, but I assure you that your government has lied to you for the past 32 years and my family and I will not give up fighting for truth and justice.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code