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Sunday, 31 December, 2000, 12:07 GMT
Lockerbie questions 'still unanswered'
Lockerbie graphic
Twelve years after the Lockerbie bombing and with the trial of the two Libyans accused of the atrocity continuing, the father of one of the victims writes exclusively for BBC News Online.

Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter in the blast which destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 and devastated the town of Lockerbie, expresses pride that the efforts to secure a trial have proved successful.

However, he says the trial cannot answer all of the questions surrounding the atrocity.


Following the arrival of the two Libyan accused in Holland in April 1999, and their immediate handover for trial at the tiny island of Scots territory at Camp Zeist, everything has seemed different.

I experienced a real feeling of euphoria that day when they landed, I thought Flora would be proud of what we had helped to do.

Ever since, we have become engrossed spectators, for the process of analysing that part of the truth which touches the two accused is now in the hands of a court and judges, open to us, of which all Scots should feel proud.

Alas, it is not within the power of the court to give a single one of our loved ones back to us, nor can it look at why the outrage was not prevented, nor whether appropriate lessons have been learned and acted upon to prevent a recurrence.

Colonel Gadaffi
Dr Swire recalled his meeting with Col Gadaffi
But at least, whoever was ultimately responsible for this barbarity cannot fail to see that a majestic process is in motion, which will not be allowed to cease until every possible avenue open to it has been explored.

After the trial is over will come the time to answer many other outstanding puzzles connected with this monstrous act

It was in November 1991 that the indictments against the two Libyans were first issued, and in December 1991 I went, in great apprehension, to meet Colonel Gadaffi to ask that his citizens be permitted to appear for trial under Scots law.

I feared that he might have me taken hostage or worse, and left sealed letters with a solicitor in case of non return.

I knew that the colonel had lost an adopted daughter, Hannah, killed by the blast of an American bomb during the Unites States Air Force raid on Tripoli in 1986, and my father was a colonel. These coincidences made initial introductions easier.

The visit was suggested and facilitated by an Egyptian journalist, Nabil Najemeldin, now working in the Middle East.


At the end of the meeting, I approached the colonel to pin a badge on his lapel which read 'PanAm 103, The TRUTH must be known'

Name Here
I shall always be grateful to him, for it was the right move at the right time, if we wanted to make a significant input to achieving truth and justice on behalf of those who died.

At the end of the meeting, I approached the colonel to pin a badge on his lapel which read 'PanAm 103, The TRUTH must be known'.

As I did so I could hear the clicks as the safety catches on the automatic weapons of his bodyguards were released.

It was bitterly cold in the desert, and under the light in the tent the blue badge shone clearly against his green flowing robe. Not even my Egyptian friend was with me.

A possible solution to the trial issue did not emerge until January 1994, when Professor Robert Black proposed a neutral country trial under Scots law, with judges instead of a jury and the Libyans accepted.

Dr Jim Swire at Camp Zeist
"Relatives have become engrossed spectators"
It was to take until 1998, much international lobbying, by Nelson Mandela, the League of Arab States, the Organisation of African Unity, the Secretary General of the UN and others, coupled with a fresh government in Britain, before the West would accept such a solution.

I believe that our efforts together with those of Professor Black helped to convince Libya that trial under Scots law would be fair.

However, I can understand their reluctance to accept a Scottish locus for the trial venue, or a jury.

It has been a strain financially and for our families to maintain a constant presence at Zeist, and each day seems exhausting.

But with the help of Dutch friends we have established a flat as a base, near the court, which other relatives of victims can also use.

At least one British relative has been present every day that the court has sat. I have found that cycling to and from court helps to relieve the stress.

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