UK, US, Libya call for justice over Lockerbie, 25 years on

UK, US, Libya call for justice over Lockerbie, 25 years on

London (AFP) - Britain, the United States and Libya issued a joint call for justice over the Lockerbie bombing as services were held to mark the 25th anniversary of the attack, which claimed 270 lives.

The three governments gave their "deepest condolences" to relatives of those who died when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, en route from London to New York.

All 259 people on board -- most of them Americans heading home -- were killed as well as 11 people on the ground.

"We want all those responsible for this most brutal act of terrorism brought to justice, and to understand why it was committed," the governments said in a statement.

"We are committed to cooperate fully in order to reveal the full facts of the case."

Only one person has ever been convicted over the bombing -- Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, who died last year still protesting his innocence.

Scotland's leader Alex Salmond was among the mourners laying wreaths on Sunday at Lockerbie's Dryfesdale Cemetery, which houses a memorial to the victims.

"On this 25-year anniversary, and as the country prepares once more to relive the harrowing events of that terrible night, it is important that we remember that the pain and suffering of the families and friends of those who died has endured since that winter night in 1988," Salmond said.

US Attorney General Eric Holder and Scottish officials attended a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington.

"We will always remember the heartache, the devastation and the pain that was etched into our collective memory on the 21st of December, 1988," Holder said.

"We keep calling for change and fighting for justice, on behalf of those no longer with us."

Syracuse University in New York, which lost 35 students in the bombing, also held a remembrance ceremony during which a peace prayer was read.

Hundreds of mourners, including senior politicians and friends and families of victims, gathered at London's Westminster Abbey.

Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the attack, called on those present to pray for Megrahi's family.

"Over Christmas, if you pray, please pray for his innocent family, but also for all those who wrestle with hatred, that they may be healed by God's love," he said.

"Please pray also that we who will sit down at a Christmas table with chairs forever empty may find peace."

Prime Minister David Cameron earlier paid tribute to the victims' families, saying their "fortitude and resilience" showed that terrorists would never win.

"You have shown that terrorist acts cannot crush the human spirit. That is why terrorism will never prevail," he said in a statement.

Ongoing investigations

Libya admitted responsibility for the bombing in 2003 and the regime of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi eventually paid $2.7 billion in compensation to victims' families as part of a raft of measures aimed at a rapprochement with the West.

Since the fall of the Kadhafi regime in 2011, British and US detectives have travelled to Libya to investigate whether other perpetrators could be identified.

"Over the last quarter of a century much attention has been focused on the perpetrators of the atrocity," Cameron said.

"Today, our thoughts turn to its victims and to those whose lives have been touched and changed by what happened at Lockerbie that night."

The three governments vowed to "all provide full support to the investigation team to enable them to complete their enquiries successfully."

"We are striving to further deepen our cooperation and welcome the visit by UK and US investigators to Libya in the near future to discuss all aspects of that cooperation, including sharing of information and documents and access to witnesses," they said.

He added that the attack continued to forge a strong bond between Syracuse University and Lockerbie through a scholarship programme that sends two students from the Scottish town to New York every year.