Wednesday 22 November 2017

Truth behind Lockerbie bombing may never be known as 25th anniversary marked

File photo dated 23/12/1988 of police officers at the scene in Lockerbie, Scotland, after a Boeing 747 aeroplane, Pan Am Flight 103, crashed after a mid flight explosion on board.
File photo dated 23/12/1988 of police officers at the scene in Lockerbie, Scotland, after a Boeing 747 aeroplane, Pan Am Flight 103, crashed after a mid flight explosion on board.
File photo dated 22/12/1988 of the scene in Lockerbie, Scotland, after a Boeing 747 aeroplane, Pan Am Flight 103, crashed after a mid flight explosion on board.
The scene of the Lockerbie crash 25 years ago

Ryan Hooper

The truth behind the Lockerbie bombing may never be known, says a former British ambassador to Libya.

Only one man, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, was convicted of the bombing when he was found guilty in January 2001 and given a life sentence. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, leading to a decision to free him from Greenock prison under compassionate release rules.

He died in Tripoli last year, though his family are pondering whether to appeal against the conviction.

On the 25th anniversary of the attack, which killed 270 people, former British ambassador Oliver Miles said he believes nobody could be brought to justice for the incident - but said he suspected former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was behind the bombing.

Mr Miles told the BBC: "It was such a shocking and enormous atrocity that clearly nobody was going to rest until the truth was found.

"I don't think the truth possibly ever will be found so perhaps we will be talking about this for years to come."

Several experts and Libyan officials have identified Gaddafi as being responsible for the terrorist attack - particularly since the dictator was killed in 2011.

He said: "I don't think anybody thinks he was the man behind the bombing, I think the question is whether he was one of the operatives who actually did what had to be done if it was a Libyan bombing - he's supposed to be responsible for getting the bomb on to the plane.

"But I don't think anyone thinks he was the mastermind, so to speak - if there was a Libyan mastermind, it was Gaddafi."

Mr Miles said diplomatic relations between Britain and Libya were good since being restored in the late 90s having broken down before the Lockerbie attack.

He said: "While Gaddafi was still in power I never felt there was any real prospect of co-operation from the Libyan side. That's changed. We now have a Libyan regime that has no interest in concealing Gaddafi's crimes - rather the contrary."

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