TIMES UNION, Albany, N.Y.
THURSDAY, April 5, 1990
103 VICTIMS' FAMILIES PROD BUSH, THATCHERBy Vic Ostrowidzki Times Union Washington bureau
The families of victims of the Pan Am 103 disaster appealed Wednesday to President Bush and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to pressure Syria and Iran to apprehend those "responsible for the crime."
Two organizations representing relatives of many of the 270 persons killed in the Dec. 21, 1988 crash over Lockerbie, Scotland, sent letters to the two leaders asking them to "reverse the policy of inaction" and "courageously confront the groups and nations responsible" for the disaster when they meet next week in Bermuda.
The letters repeated allegations by experts that "the bombing was carried out by Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (General Command), a terrorist group based in, and protected by Syria for more than 20 years.
"In spite of this," the letter continued, "entirely believable published accounts contend that both of you have decided to deliberately downplay the evidence and string out the investigation until the case can be dismissed as ancient history."
The disaster occurred when a terrorist bomb ripped apart the Pan Am Flight 103 jumbo jet bound from Frankfort, Germany to New York after a stop in London. The crash killed all 259 aboard the plane as well as 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie.
The letters were signed by Paul Hudson of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the Families of Pan Am 103/ Lockerbie and Jim Swire, chairman of U.K. Families- Flight 103.
Hudson, whose daughter, Melina, was one of the victims, noted in an interview that his organization had split last September from Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, which is headquartered in New Jersey.
He said his group intends to press hard for improved airport security and counterterrorist policies. The other group has taken a less confrontational approach and has said it wants to work with government and airline officials to effect the changes.
Hudson said his organization has arranged for the President's Commission on Aviation, Security and Terrorism to meet with families of victims on April 11, a month before it releases its findings.
The commission was appointed by President Bush last August to prepare a study on how best to prevent terrorist acts involving aviation. The commission is headed by former Labor Secretary Ann Dore McLaughlin and includes Sens. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., and Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J.
Hudson said relatives of victims are continuing a petition drive they launched in March 1989, charging that a coverup has occurred and demanding a congressional investigation of the tragedy.
Hudson and Swire said in their letters that such an investigation is needed because 16 months have passed since the "atrocity" and that, despite promises of "a massive investigation being conducted, there have been no arrests, no indictments, and no indication that there will be any soon, or ever."