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Bert Ammerman, Lockerbie victim's relative
"Today will be difficult as they're going to relive 21 December"
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Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK
Emotional time for relatives
Artist's impression of radar screen
The final moments of Pan Am flight 103 were seen on recordings of radar screens
The first proceedings of the trial of the two men accused of the Lockerbie bombing proved to be full of emotion for some of the relatives of the 270 people who died.

Families watched on screens as air traffic control officials described the last moments of Pan Am flight 103, which exploded over the Scottish town in December 1988 killing 259 on board and 11 on the ground.

For some of the relatives, coming face to face with the two accused, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah for the first time, it proved too much.

I was sitting there saying 'My wife was on that airplane and now I'm watching her die'

Bruce Smith
Bert Ammerman, whose brother Tommy was killed in the tragedy, was in the specially-constructed Scottish court in Camp Zeist, in the Netherlands.

He said: "It was very troublesome. Even though it was on a radar screen, they took us right through from the time the plane took off from Heathrow coming right up over Lockerbie.

Susan Cohen
Susan Cohen: "Terrible feeling"
"They went very slowly on the radar screen and you kept seeing PA103 and they kept asking the air traffic control questions.

"You knew eventually it was going to disappear from the screen and when it did, I visualised my brother at 31,000ft and that was quite troublesome."

Asked about how he felt seeing the accused for the first time, Mr Ammerman said: "An hour before I went into the courtroom I felt like I did the night I found out my brother was on the flight.

"The next morning when I looked on TV I saw one of the seat cushions on a roof. I remember panicking and saying to my wife 'I have to go to Lockerbie'.

Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith's wife was one of the victims
"There was a great deal of uncertainty, a big amount of stress, and today I felt the same way . . . until they (the accused) came in.

"There was relief, there was peace, because I realised now that the trial was going to take place."

Mother of one of the victims Susan Cohen said: "I just feel horrible. I just can't sit in that court room, I just can't hear that stuff.

"I knew I'd have trouble, it's even worse than I thought.

"I think people are going to find, to actually experience it, is terrible."

Bruce Smith, whose wife died in the tragedy, said: "Actually watching the video of the radar screen. . . that did affect me a bit.

"Because, of course, I was sitting there saying 'My wife was on that airplane and now I'm watching her die'."

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See also:

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Lockerbie accused deny murder
03 May 00 | World
No viewers for trial screening
18 Apr 00 | Lockerbie Trial
Doors open on Lockerbie court
02 May 00 | Middle East
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03 May 00 | World
Waiting ends as trial begins
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