UK & World News

  • 22 December 2013, 1:13

Lockerbie 25th Anniversary: Victims Remembered

Special memorial services to mark the 25th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing have taken place in England, Scotland and the US.

Pan Am flight 103 was on its way from London to New York when it exploded above Lockerbie, in southern Scotland, on the evening of December 21 1988, killing 270 people - everyone on board and 11 on the ground.

Simultaneous remembrance services took place in Lockerbie, Westminster Abbey in London and Arlington National Cemetery in the US - where most of the victims were from.

Relatives read the names of the victims following a minute's silence at 7.03pm (2.03pm EST in the US), marking exactly a quarter of a century since the tragedy.

Another service also took place at Syracuse University in New York state, from where 35 students were killed in the bombing as they returned from studies in Europe.

British Prime Minister David Cameron described the bombing as "one of the worst aviation disasters in history and the deadliest act of terrorism" ever committed in the UK.

He said: "Though 25 years have passed, memories of the 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 Lockerbie residents who lost their lives on that terrible night have not dimmed.

"Today our thoughts turn to its victims and to those whose lives have been touched and changed by what happened at Lockerbie that night."

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the disaster, told Sky News: "Anniversaries aren't in a sense that big a deal for the families of victims because we have to live with the lovely memories of those that we lost all that time ago, every day of every year.

"Bereavement in itself is sometimes a life sentence."

Graham Herbert, former rector at Lockerbie Academy which lost three students in the atrocity, said the market town "has always tried to move forward".

He told Sky News: "I know today there will be a lot of closed doors. A lot of people will not go out of their houses. The memories are just too bitter, there are still open wounds there."

Jane Schultz lost her 20-year-old son Thomas, who was part of the Syracuse University group on board the flight.

She told Sky News: "In my heart, to me this is home and there was no other place I felt I should be on this very sad and special occasion.

"I wanted to be here to honour my son as well as the 269 other victims and I wanted to stand in the place where my son took his last breath and say a small prayer."

Libyan Abdelbaset al Megrahi was found guilty of the bombing in January 2001 and given a life sentence.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, leading to a decision to free him under compassionate release rules.

Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill took that decision on August 20 the following year, sparking a row among politicians on both sides of the Atlantic.

Megrahi died in Tripoli, Libya in May last year. His family is considering lodging a fresh appeal to clear his name.

British relatives of victims who believe he was wrongfully convicted of the bombing are also planning another appeal against the conviction when they meet with lawyers in the new year.

A joint statement from the UK, US and Libyan governments said they remained committed to bringing the perpetrators to justice.

It said: "We want all those responsible for this most brutal act of terrorism brought to justice, and to understand why it was committed. We are committed to cooperate fully in order to reveal the full facts of the case."

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