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Monday, 21 December, 1998, 09:42 GMT
Lockerbie relatives come full circle
A relative of a Lockerbie victim at the memorial
Ten years of memories: Many relatives return every year
Lockerbie
Relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing, arriving in the Scotland to prepare for the 10th anniversary of the disaster, fear the attacks on Iraq will delay the handing over of the two main suspects.

On the night of 21 December 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 blew up in mid-air and the main piece of fuselage crashed into the town killing 259 passengers and crew and 11 people on the ground.

Two Libyans, Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah and Abdel Baset al-Megrahi are wanted for trial in connection with the bombing.

But Bert Ammerman, leader of US relatives group Terrorism Watch Pan Am Flight 103, said he believed the bombing of Iraq will hold up the handing over by Libya's leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Bert Ammerman, leader of a US Lockerbie relatives group
Bert Ammerman: Fears of Arab backlash over Iraq
Speaking in Lockerbie Mr Ammerman said: "Selfishly, I believe it's a setback. I support what took place but I believe it's going to mean a delay.

"What with Ramadan and now us bombing another Arab country and going after another Arab leader there will obviously be some backlash in the UN Security Council."

But he said he was confident the suspects would be eventually handed over in 1999.

Christmas returns

This year is the first year since 1988 that Lockerbie will have Christmas lights up.

Mr Ammerman, whose brother Tommy, 36, died at Lockerbie, said he was delighted to see the town rebuilt - different thoughts to those he had when he visited the town on Christmas Eve 1988.

"When I left ten years ago I didn't want to see it rebuilt," he said.

"I wanted to remember the carnage, the debris, the smell of gasoline."

Since then Mr Ammerman, 52, has visited the town seven times.

He addressed a private service at the town's Roman Catholic church on Sunday morning, the first of a series of events to mark the bombing and remember its victims.

'I am a better person today'

He told the congregation at the Holy Trinity Church: "I wish I had never met any of you because if I hadn't my brother would still be alive.

"But since I have, I am a better person today."

The Lockerbie memorial
Wreaths will be laid at the Lockerbie memorial on Monday
After the service Mr Ammerman, accompanied by his two daughters, said thanking the people of Lockerbie personally had been the most important thing he had done since the bombing.

He said: "The people of Scotland and Lockerbie have always made us feel welcome."

Monday's anniversary sees a wreath-laying ceremony at Dryfesdale Cemetery, and a service of commemoration at Dryfesdale Parish Church.

The Duke of Edinburgh, on behalf of the Queen, will be among those laying a wreath in remembrance of the victims.

The anniversary is also being marked with services at London's Westminster Abbey and in Syracuse, New York.

'Trial must go ahead'

Mr Ammerman said it would be "scandalous" if the trial of two Libyans suspects did not go ahead.

He said: "The trial will release the evidence. That is the most important thing.

"If you don't have a trial you will never find the truth."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Audio
Lockerbie resident Maxwell Kerr recalls the "shock and horror" of 21 December 1988
Video
Ben Brown looks at how Lockerbie is facing Christmas 10 years after the bombing
Audio
Bert Ammerman: "I had to come back to the place where I spent the nine most intense days of my life"
Audio
Bert Ammerman: "The bombing of Iraq is inevitably going to delay the handing over of the two Libyans"
Audio
Colin Blane reports on one relative's emotional return to Lockerbie
Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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