Almost ten years after the explosion of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the United States and Britain have agreed to hold the trial of the two Libyans charged with the bombing in a third country. The case would be tried under Scottish law by a Scottish judge but would be held in the Hague, the capital of the Netherlands. Secretary of State Madeline Albright and British Foreign Minister Robin Cook said international sanctions against Libya would be removed as soon as the suspects were turned over for trial but they would work to impose much tougher sanctions if Libya refuses.
Ever since charges were filed against the two Libyans, Britain and the U.S. have insisted they'd be tried in Scotland or the U.S.
The decision to reverse that position is drawing a mixed response from the families of the 270 people who died on flight 103.
NPR's Neal Conan reports.
NEAL CONAN, NPR REPORTER: Georgia Nucci (ph), an attorney in Hudson, New York, lost her 20-year-old son Christopher Jones in the bombing. She was among the family members included in a conference call with Secretary Albright and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger before the decision was officially announced and she said she was pleased and curious.
GEORGIA NUCCI, MOTHER OF PAN AM FLIGHT 103 BOMBING VICTIM: Pleased that we're taking a forward step and sort of calling Qaddafi bluff. Very curious to see how he reacts and if indeed he will turn over these two suspects.
CONAN: Susan Cohen (ph) Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey, whose daughter Theodora was aboard the Pan Am flight, says she is very upset and appalled by what she describes as American capitulation.
SUSAN COHEN, MOTHER OF PAN AM FLIGHT 103 BOMBING VICTIM: What I'm worried about is that the United States had told us, the government, that they would never yield on the trial being held in the United States or Scotland. And now they have suddenly yielded. It means that Qaddafi in a sense has won a major victory. He has waited us out.
CONAN: Helen Engelhart (ph) of Brooklyn, New York lost her husband Tony Hawkins over Lockerbie, Scotland. We reached her on vacation in New York's Adirondack Mountains. She says that the American refusal to consider a trial in a third country allowed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to rally world opinion.
HELEN ENGELHART, WIFE OF PAN AM FLIGHT 103 BOMBING VICTIM: You know, most of the world has been swayed to his position. Well, now we are officially saying we're compromising, let's move this forward, let's do it. And either he will say yes and we will have a trial or he will say no and we have gained moral stature. We can then up the ante, we can then say: well, these sanctions are not enough, we have to do something else.
CONAN: Aphrodite Tasaris's (ph) daughter to Alexia (ph) died on her way home from a college trip to Europe. She was one of many Syracuse University students killed on the flight. Almost ten years later, she wants to see the evidence developed by an exhaustive investigation placed on the record.
APHRODITE TASARIS, MOTHER OF PAN AM FLIGHT 103 BOMBING VICTIM: There are two components going on here. Whenever you lose a child by murder or any loved one by murder, you want to know how it happen and who did it and why. And, secondly, I think it's not a matter of emotional closure, it's a matter of intellectual closure, of getting the answers to the questions.
CONAN: Susie Bright (ph), though, worries that a narrowly drawn case against two Libyan intelligence operatives will not address bigger questions of responsibility. Her husband Nicholas was on Pan Am 103. She spoke with us from vacation on Little Cranberry Island off the coast of Maine.
SUSIE BRIGHT, WIFE OF PAN AM FLIGHT 103 BOMBING VICTIM: Well, I believed ever since this happened that there are a lot of questions that need to be answered concerning the roles of other countries, particularly Syria and Iran. I think that there were many, many pieces of evidence pointing to those countries. And then at a place and time where the United States needed to develop a better relationship with Syria, we indicted two Libyans. And that's something that concerned me then and it concerns me now.
CONAN: None of the family members we spoke with believe that this trial will ever get underway. Most said they would want to attend if it does. Helen Engelhart said she wanted to see her husband's killers come face-to-face with him and the other victims as individuals.
ENGELHART: My son when he was six years olds, at the time his father was killed, said to me, "Didn't they know that they were killing people that we love?" And I couldn't tell him the truth, I couldn't say yes, that they knew that they were killing people that we love, that' s why they did it. I said, "No, they didn't realize." But they were not thinking of them as people equal to the people that they know and love, they were thinking of them as the other, the numbers, the enemy, I don't know. I would like -- I would like them to confront us and the people that they killed.
CONAN: Neal Conan, NPR News, Washington.
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and
may be updated.