Twenty six years after a terror attack brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, prosecutors say they have identified two new, Libyan suspects in the bombing
According to the Associated Press, Scotland’s Crown Office said Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch have agreed that there is “a proper basis in law in Scotland and the United States to entitle Scottish and U.S. investigators to treat two Libyans as suspects” in the attack. The suspects’ names have not yet been made public.
In 2001, a former Libyan intelligence officer, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, was convicted of plotting the bombing. The verdict came from a Scottish court meeting in the Netherlands—a highly unusual arrangement agreed to when Libya’s longtime ruler, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, allowed the deportation of Mr. Megrahi and another suspect, Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah.
Mr. Fhimah was acquitted. Mr. Megrahi was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but in 2009, the Scottish government, over the strenuous objections of American officials, released him on compassionate grounds. He returned to Libya, where he died of prostate cancer in 2012, still maintaining his innocence. Colonel Qaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011 during the Arab Spring uprising in Libya.
Last month, a long and excellent story by Patrick Radden Keefe was published in The New Yorker about a filmmaker, Ken Dorenstein, whose brother David was on Flight 103. Dorenstein has been investigating the bombing for the better part of the last quarter century, culminating in a three-part PBS documentary that aired this month:
After Flight 103 went down, hundreds of Scottish police constables scoured the countryside, inch by inch, collecting evidence. Miles outside Lockerbie, a fragment of the circuit board from the bomb’s timing device was discovered. This plastic shard, which was smaller than a fingernail, was embedded in a shirt collar, and investigators deduced that the shirt had been wrapped around the radio containing the device. They traced the label on the shirt to a shop in Malta, and this clue led them to suspect Megrahi, who had been in Malta the day before the blast. The owner of the shop subsequently recalled Megrahi’s buying the shirt.
“I feel like I pushed it as far as I could as a filmmaker and now it’s up to governments to do the actual administration of justice,” Dornstein told the AP. “I’d be really gratified to know that this project could potentially lead to the first new charges in the case in some 25 years.”