by Paul Foot
As he basks in the success of his controversial visit to Libya, the prime minister has to grapple at once with an awkward letter. It was delivered on Monday by UK Families Flight 103 representing most of the British families bereaved by the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The letter starts by reminding Blair that the families supported his visit to Libya in the expectation that the talks with Colonel Muammar Gadafy would lead to more information about the bombing. Moreover, the letter says, their support for the visit was widely used by ministers to justify the visit to Libya. Yet the visit has not led to any more information about the bombing.
And recent letters to the secretary of the group, Pamela Dix - whose brother died at Lockerbie - from Baroness Symons, minister of state at the Foreign Office, and from the Crown Office in Edinburgh, have argued that any further questions to the Libyans about Lockerbie would not be helpful. In short, ministers took the credit of the families' support without asking a single question about Lockerbie to justify that support. In a sense of deep outrage, the families are asking the prime minister for a meeting to discuss Lockerbie as a matter of urgency.
More people died at Lockerbie than in Madrid, and you would have thought that the government, if only as proof of its horror at terrorism, would be keen to question its new friends in Tripoli about the bombing. Not so, apparently. So the only hard information the families have is that Abdul Basset al-Megrahi, a Libyan official, apparently working in intelligence, was convicted in January 2001 of bombing the airliner. How he accomplished this feat is still a mystery. The details of the crime did not emerge at the trial, which was held by Scottish judges sitting without a jury in Holland. It lasted 18 months and cost an estimated £50m.
Megrahi's co-accused was acquitted, so the prosecution's suggestion that the two men conspired to bomb the plane cannot be right. Indeed, the crucial evidence that the bomb was put on a feeder flight at Malta and was transferred twice, at Frankfurt and at Heathrow, was so thin it was derisory.
No one knows whether anyone else took part in this sophisticated crime of terror. One man has been convicted. The Libyan government has forked out many millions in compensation. And that, apparently, is the end of the matter. Many of the bereaved relatives, including Dix, are increasingly disturbed at the behaviour of ministers who talk business and politics to the Gadafy regime, but are not remotely interested in pressing anyone in it to tell the whole story about Lockerbie.
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