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Questions remain over Lockerbie bombing as memorials are held to mark 30th anniversary

270 people were killed in the attack 30 years ago today.

Houses on fire after downed plane crashed in Lockerbie on 21 December 1988.
Houses on fire after downed plane crashed in Lockerbie on 21 December 1988.
Image: PA Images

TODAY IS THE 30th anniversary of bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, commonly known as the Lockerbie Air Disaster, in which 270 people were killed.

The bombing saw the plane being destroyed and plummeting into the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 11 people on the ground as well as all 259 people on board. 

Fifteen years ago in 2003, Libya admitted responsibility for the bombing and the regime of slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi eventually paid €2.4 billion in compensation to victims’.

The UK and the US will hold memorial services today to remember the bombing, which remains the worst ever attack on British soil since the Second World War. 

The United States lost the most lives in the attack with 179 of its citizens being killed, many of them heading home for Christmas on the London to New York flight.

Wreaths were laid in the town’s memorial garden and a message from Queen Elizabeth II was read out.

“I send my prayers and good wishes to all those who will be marking this solemn anniversary,” the message said.

Of the victims, 35 were from Syracuse University in New York State, where a memorial will be held later Friday.

Other US services will be held at Arlington National Cemetery and FBI headquarters.

The plane exploded after a bomb stored in a suitcase in the hold was detonated.

30th anniversary of Lockerbie bomb A wreath-laying ceremony in Lockerbie this morning. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was found guilty of the bombing in 2001 and he remains the only person ever convicted of the crime. He died in 2012 still protesting his innocence.

His lawyer Aamer Anwar issued a statement yesterday claiming there had been a miscarriage of justice, saying the “finger of blame has long been pointed in the direction of Iran” for ordering the attack.

It has been claimed by an Iranian defector that the bombing of the commercial airliner was ordered by Iran as retaliation for the shooting down of an Iranian passenger airliner by the US Navy six months earlier. 

Local for the Lockerbie area David Mundell MP said victims had still not received full justice.

“It has not been easy, nor have we been able to achieve the closure we would have wanted, even after 30 years,” he said.

“However, throughout, the people in Lockerbie have retained their dignity and stoicism, and offered friendship and support to those who lost loved ones.”

30th anniversary of Lockerbie bomb An aerial view of the crater left after the plane crashed. Source: PA Images

Since the fall of  Gaddafi in 2011, British and US detectives have travelled to Libya to investigate whether other perpetrators could be identified.

A Scottish commission responsible for investigating miscarriages of justice said earlier this year that it would review Megrahi’s conviction.

He abandoned his appeal in 2009 when he was released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds following a diagnosis of terminal prostate cancer, but his family asked for the case to be reviewed.

- With reporting by © – AFP 2018

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Rónán Duffy

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