Lockerbie families split over call for new investigation

Lockerbie families split over call for new investigation
# 09 April 2011 02:23 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Defection of Libya’s Moussa Koussa prompts mixed responses from US and British relatives of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing, APA reports quoting “Guardian”.
Families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing are split over demands for a full investigation into Libya’s links to the attack, the Guardian has learned, as it emerged that Scottish police had met the Libyan defector and former foreign minister Moussa Koussa.
Two US relatives of victims of the bombing, Paul Hudson and Victoria Cumnock, played a role in securing a controversial apology and promise of compensation from Libyan rebels for Lockerbie and Libya’s link to IRA bombings.
They wrote to all of the Lockerbie relatives on Wednesday urging them to support a "vocal and unified" demand for a full investigation by US prosecutors into Libya’s role in the attack after the defection of Koussa late last week.
Koussa voluntarily met Scottish prosecutors and Dumfries and Galloway detectives at a secret location on Thursday, to answer their questions about his level of knowledge about the Lockerbie bombing. The Crown Office refused to disclose what was said, "in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation".
But Cumnock and Hudson, acting for a new group called the Gaddafi Terror Victims Initiative, claimed the US and UK governments were trying to cover up Libya’s role in the attacks by failing to arrest Koussa and by allowing him access to his overseas wealth.
Cumnock and Hudson allege Koussa is being treated too leniently, despite warnings from intelligence sources that he is unlikely to have useful information about the Lockerbie attack on Pan Am Flight 103, in which 270 passengers, crew and local people were killed in December 1988.
"We have waited over 20 years for justice, accountability and the truth of the horrific facts of Gaddafi regime terrorism," they said. "No government should be able to suppress truth, justice and accountability for the sake of diplomatic convenience and oil money."
Jim Swire, a prominent Lockerbie campaigner whose daughter Flora has killed in the attack, has written back to Hudson and Cumnock, and copied his letter to other Lockerbie families, attacking their campaign as "unwise" and based on "profoundly unsecure foundations".
Swire said the Gaddafi Terror Victims Initiative was likely to fail because it was even more difficult during a war to find out the truth.
Any information or claims by defectors had to treated with great suspicion because their motives would be obscure and the quality of their information difficult to verify. The rebels in Benghazi now say their apologies were invalid and made under pressure from the UK government.
Swire’s letter, which has been leaked to the Guardian, said: "The words of defectors to Benghazi, or of Moussa Koussa, come to that, should be regarded with the greatest circumspection, taking their present situations into account. War generates fog, and truth is then even harder to come by."
In their open letter to other Lockerbie families, Cumnock and Hudson said Koussa’s treatment after his defection was clear evidence of US complicity in a cover-up to protect US business interests in Libya. That complicity started 20 years ago when the US agreed to allow Scottish prosecutors to take control of the Lockerbie investigation, rather than use the much tougher US legal system.
"This is an outrage and a clear case of political expediency over justice. Both the US and UK are clearly tempted to obstruct justice and sweep their legitimate law-enforcement obligations – along with everything else – under the rug. We cannot just sit on our hands as pawns and allow this to happen. We need to let our government hear from us that we won’t tolerate this any longer," they said.
Hudson and Cumnock’s initiative is now closely linked to another initiative to compensate the British relatives of victims of IRA atrocities carried out with Libyan semtex, which is being led by a British lawyer, Jason McCue, who has been in Benghazi meeting rebel leaders.
The Libyan rebels in the city signed a document apologising for Libya’s role in IRA attacks and Lockerbie, and promised $10m ($6m) compensation each of the IRA victims’ families, after meeting McCue.
The rebels later claimed they were coerced by the UK government into signing the document and had misunderstood what it contained. Essam Gheriani, a spokesman for the revolutionaries’ governing council, said its chairman, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, felt he had to comply to win international recognition and get access to Libyan money overseas.
"The whole world knows the Libyan people are not responsible for Gaddafi’s acts over 40 years. An apology is not warranted for the simple reason that the Libyan people did not participate in these acts," said Gheriani.
Swire warned that the Libyan civil war and the collapse of Gaddafi’s regime made it extremely difficult to rely on any uncorroborated information which came from dissidents or defectors. He said the significant doubts about the guilt of the only man convicted of the attack, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, and allegations that US and UK intelligence agencies falsified evidence against him, made it very difficult to find out the truth about Lockerbie.
"War, as over Libya now, generates fog not clarity; now is not the time to try to add an extra level on to the existing structure created in the hope of explaining what happened, its foundations will soon collapse anyway," he told the other relatives.
"The allegations of those in Bengazi or from the likes of Moussa Koussa are particularly difficult to assess at this time, laced as they will be with strong but partially hidden motivations."
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