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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 13:11 GMT
Mixed reaction over Libya visit
Kathleen Flynn
Kathleen Flynn accuses Blair of "short-term memory loss"
Relatives of those who died in the Lockerbie tragedy have expressed mixed reactions to Thursday's visit to Libya by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mr Blair is due to meet the Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi for talks on Thursday as the west rebuilds links with the once-shunned country.

American Kathleen Flynn, whose son John Patrick was killed in the 1988 bombing, condemned the visit.

She said: "The US and UK both suffer from short-term memory loss."

Mrs Flynn told BBC Radio Scotland: "Both America and Britain have sacrificed their righteousness in this capitulation on the Libyan issue."

However, UK families groups welcomed the move to increase dialogue with Libya.

The BBC's political editor Andrew Marr said during his meeting with the Libyan President, the prime minister is expected to offer military training and help for Libyan forces in Britain.

The aim, he said, is to persuade the Libyans they can have perfectly acceptable security without the need for weapons of mass destruction.

It is the right direction to go in providing Lockerbie stays at the top of the agenda
Pamela Dix
UK Families Flight 103

But Mrs Flynn said she was not convinced strenghthening links with Libya was a good idea.

She added: "It's one thing for a country to accept responsibility and then move forward, but to accept responsibility and have no regime change - I mean, we're now still dealing with the same people who ordered the murder of 270 innocent people.

"I don't get this. I mean, there's something wrong in this picture."

Mrs Flynn continued: "If you look at it from the point of view of the justice system in this country, and I'm sure in the UK, we don't let a murderer off just because he gives up his guns and says he's sorry.

"He must serve his sentence. So why is there a different code of justice for international mass murderers?

"I certainly believe the Scottish prosecutors have put the right man in prison, and he was an agent of the Libyan Government."

Speedily arranged

Lockerbie councillor Marjory McQueen said: "On a purely personal basis, I have sympathy with the views of the American relatives who see it as a betrayal.

"But obviously the prime minister now feels it is time to move on, although it appears to have been arranged rather quickly."

Pamela Dix, secretary of UK Families Flight 103, backed Mr Blair's visit, saying it was better to have dialogue with countries like Libya rather than keeping them out in the cold.

"There is lot of ground to catch up on to understand where each other is coming from," she said.

"But this cannot be done at the expense of learning the full truth of what happened at Lockerbie.

"It is the right direction to go in providing Lockerbie stays at the top of the agenda."

Dr Jim Swire, of the UK Lockerbie Families group, criticised the Tory leader, Michael Howard, for saying that the visit would distress relatives.

Mr Howard made his comments on the BBC's Today programme and they were taken up by his deputy, Michael Ancram, during prime minister's questions in the Commons.

But Mr Swire said it would have been a good idea if Mr Howard had talked to the families before making his comments and that as far he knew he had made no effort to do so.




SEE ALSO:
Tories question Blair Libya trip
24 Mar 04  |  Politics
Lockerbie families demand inquiry
21 Dec 03  |  Scotland
Libya makes claims of opening up
19 May 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Libya
16 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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