2 Mar 2011

Father of Lockerbie victim: ‘Gaddafi should be tried’

The father of a victim of the Lockerbie bombing has told Channel 4 News he is calling for international investigators to start collecting potential evidence on the attack from Libya.

Father of Lockerbie victim: 'Gaddafi should be tried' - Reuters

Dr Jim Swire’s daughter Flora was among the 270 killed when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded on 21 December, 1988, and he has been the main English organiser of British victim support.

Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison in 2001 for the bombing, but was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds due to terminal prostate cancer and returned to Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, prompting outrage from the US: most of the victims in the Lockerbie bombing were Americans. The victims’ families have since been paid a total of £1.4 billion in compensation.

Dr Swire has always doubted Megrahi’s involvement in the atrocity, and told Channel 4 News that – due to the politics surrounding the case – he would be “very sceptical” about an exclusively American, or indeed and exclusively British, inquiry into Libya’s involvement.

“If Gaddafi is toppled and is captured, I would welcome the prospect of him being tried in the International Criminal Court,” said Dr Swire. “If there is any previously unseen evidence there now, and is accessible, it is important to uncover it. But when Megrahi was released, everyone could see the intense political feelings underpinning it, mainly the anger of the Americans.”

“If Gaddafi is toppled and is captured, I would welcome the prospect of him being tried in the International Criminal Court.” Jim Swire, father of Lockerbie victim

He added: “For that reason, I think the right way to go would an international initiative, for the purposes of transparency and to avoid the carrying out of political vengeance.”

Dr Swire’s comments come a day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised the possibility of a US effort to begin combing Libya for evidence. Mrs Clinton suggested Gaddafi should be charged and tried for the bombing, representing a major shift of focus from Megrahi.

Mrs Clinton said she would move “expeditiously” to ask the FBI and Attorney General about the best ways to gather evidence to bring a case against Gaddafi.

President Barack Obama has been handed a letter by the families of Lockerbie victims who pressed him to resume the criminal investigation after former members of Gaddafi’s regime said they has proof of the leader personally ordering the terrorist attack.

In an interview with the Sunday Times last week, the former Libyan justice minister, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, claimed that Megrahi had blackmailed Gaddafi into securing his release by threatening to expose his role in the attack.

Mr Jalil was quoted as saying that Megrahi had warned Gaddafi that he would “reveal everything” about the bombing if he wasn’t rescued from a Scottish prison.

In a separate interview with Sweden’s Expressen newspaper, Jalil said he had proof Gaddafi had personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing but did not describe the proof.

Mr Swire said: “If the claims made by these people are true, they need to be scrutinised as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, Scottish ministers are claiming that there are “too many unresolved issues” surrounding the conviction of Megrahi.

SNP MSP Christine Grahame said: “The Megrahi/Lockerbie issue remains unresolved and highly unsatisfactory to many people.”

A Public Petitions Committee agreed to continue a petition calling for an inquiry into the conviction lodged by pressure group Justice For Megrahi (JFM), with a suggestion that it should be referred to the Justice Committee.