TIMES UNION, Albany, N.Y.
SATURDAY, April 25, 1992
VICTIM'S FATHER CAPTURES TERROR FOR HIS AUDIENCEBy Donna Liquori Staff writer
Paul Hudson, scheduled to speak about terrorism at a law school symposium, told the audience Friday night that he was asked by organizers to read an urgent wire service report.
A 747 jet crashed near London, killing 250 passengers, and an explosion was involved, said the president of Families of Pan Am 103, a support group formed after the jet crash blamed on terrorism. Audience members looked at each other. The mood in the Albany Law School moot courtroom changed.
"This bulletin is not real. It's fiction," Hudson said. But on Dec. 21, 1988, the news reports were very real for the Albany man. His daughter, Melina, was aboard the flight that crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland.
"We saw the real thing on CNN. The image is burned in our minds forever," he said.
He added: "1,220 days ago our lives were changed forever. Never did we think that our 16-year-old ... was anything but safe aboard a Pan Am jumbo jet."
Outside the symposium on terrorism, a display underscored the reason for the session. A large red board showed a photo collage of the victims, many of whom were students. On the other side of the board, a copy of the memo warning U.S. Embassy officials of the possibilty of a bomb presented a grim duplicity that the group is hoping to see changed. They want the same types of warnings for the general public.
"Why weren't they told?" asked Jack Plaxe, who works for the Families of Pan Am Flight 103. Plaxe pointed out a high school friend of his, John Flynn, an exchange student studying overseas, who was among the 250 victims. Plaxe said the display travels to different symposiums and events where victims' families might be speaking.
In the center of the board, a drawing of three candles symbolized the three goals of the group: "justice," "security" and "warning."
Some of those goals, the group thinks, are being realized, Plaxe said. Some of those realizations are the United Nations' sanctions against Libya for its refusal to release the two men suspected of causing the bombing, increased airline security, and the Libyans' trial, which begins Monday.
Some of the precautions are very easy to incorporate, one speaker said. Dionigi M. Fiorita,
a specialist in aviation law and the former Canadian representative to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization, said getting nations to pass simple measures for safety was a difficult task.
Investigators discovered none of the 329 passengers who died after an explosion on an Air India flight owned the bag where the explosive was found. "If you ensure for every bag there is a passenger, you will ensure that the passengers will arrive at their destinations," Fiorita said.
One hundred fifteen passengers died on a Korean Airlines flight on which a package containing liquid explosives was left under a seat. That could have been prevented if someone checked that no packages were left on the plane, he said.
Most terrorist attacks concerning aircraft occur through sabotage, not hijacking, he said. "Hijacking has given way to sabotage. It's much more lethal, much more indiscriminate and much more difficult to discover," he said. "There are no armies of suicidal saboteurs."
The symposium, sponsored by the Albany Law Journal of Science & Technology and Justice Jackson Lecture Series, continues at 10 a.m. today
at the law school's Alexander Moot Courtroom on the fourth floor. "International Efforts to Fight Terrorism" and "The New Role of the United Nations in Combating Terrorism" are two topics being discussed.
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