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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 13:46 GMT
'Not a time for celebration'
Jim Swire
Dr Jim Swire was at Camp Zeist to hear the judgement
The rejection of the Lockerbie bomber's appeal against conviction is not a cause for celebration, one of the victims' relatives has stressed.

Dr Jim Swire urged people to remember the day that "death rained down" on the Scottish town.

The retired GP, who lost his daughter Flora when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up in December 1988, said efforts should now be concentrated on securing an independent inquiry into the tragedy.

Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was jailed for life in January 2001 for the bombing, which led to the deaths of 270 people.

Five Scottish judges announced on Thursday that they had rejected his appeal against the conviction.

Above them were the stars and six miles below them were the lights of Lockerbie, looking like stars for those who had consciousness

Dr Jim Swire
Speaking shortly after their judgement was delivered at the special Scottish Court in the Netherlands, Dr Swire asked for a minute's silence to think about what happened on 21 December 1988.

"The 259 people on the aircraft were suddenly blown out of their eggshell-thin hull.

"Above them were the stars and six miles below them were the lights of Lockerbie, looking like stars for those who had consciousness, said Dr Swire, from Bromsgrove in Worcestershire.

"Two-and-a-half minutes later death rained down on the town below. That is what this is all about," he said.

"This is not a time for celebration, nor for despair.

Aviation security

"It is a time to gather our forces and to think what we can do to prevent this ever happening again."

Dr Swire renewed the call for an investigation into security failures at London's Heathrow Airport in 1988.

"It remains our utmost endeavour to set up an inquiry, which we shall be consulting the British Government about forthwith in order to have an independent look at British aviation security."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he would be meeting the relatives on Thursday.

Jack Straw
Jack Straw will meet victims' relatives
He said the UK Government would study the 200-page judgement with care.

"After we have done so we shall announce our decision about a government inquiry," he said.

Mr Straw said that the decision of the Scottish Court in the Netherlands could not make up for the loss suffered by the relatives of those who died.

But he added: "I hope that it does give them some solace and comfort."

In a statement made 30 minutes after the judgement was delivered, he added: "It remains for Libya to fulfil its international obligations in respect of Lockerbie.

'Political judgement'

"Libya has shown a desire to turn away from international terrorism, but I urge the government of Libya to comply fully with the terms of United Nations Security Council resolutions."

However, the president of the Libyan Bar Association promised to make use of any remaining legal procedures.

Hafid Jhoja said: "The whole of Libya will be upset by this verdict.

"This was clearly a political judgment and not a legal one. There was no clear evidence that this involved a Libyan citizen."

Scotland's justice system has shown itself to be equal to the task

Roseanna Cunningham
SNP justice spokeswoman
Al-Megrahi will now be taken from Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, where he has been held for the last three years, to serve the remainder of his sentence amid tight security at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow.

Scottish National Party justice spokeswoman Roseanna Cunningham said: "This unique trial has shown the Scottish justice system to be robust and effective in the eyes of the world - right from the actions of the police officers investigating the immediate aftermath of this terrible crime up to today's verdict.

"It has been the most complex trial in Scottish legal history, with enormous international ramifications, and Scotland's justice system has shown itself to be equal to the task."

However, she said questions remained which should be addressed by a public inquiry.

Lockerbie megapuff graphic


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