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Relatives of Lockerbie Bombing Victims Seek Independent Inquiry - 2003-08-14

Relatives of British victims of the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, say they would rather have an independent inquiry into how the attack happened than money from Libya.

British families who lost loved ones in the Pan Am bombing say they have mixed feelings about an offer from Libya to pay $10 million compensation per victim in exchange for an end to international economic sanctions.

The father of one of the British victims is the Reverend John Mosey. His 19-year-old daughter Helga was one of the passengers on the flight, which blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988.

Reverend Mosey says the compensation agreement is a distraction from the families' quest for an investigation into alleged security failures that allowed the bombing to happen. He told British radio Thursday there are a number of questions he wants answered.

"How in the face of at least 10 very specific warnings, many of them, nothing was done to protect us? How it is that notices were put on American Embassy notice boards advising people that they ought perhaps not to fly with Pan Am at that time? No one told us," Rev. Mosey said. "We need to have an independent inquiry into all these things."

Lawyers for victims' families say they signed a deal with Libyan officials in London Wednesday to set up a $2.7 billion compensation account.

The deal requires Libya to send a letter to the U.N. Security Council accepting responsibility for the bombing, which killed 270 people. Libya also must renounce terrorism and pledge cooperation with any further investigations.

That would clear the way for the Security Council to lift economic sanctions that have been in effect since 1992.

The U.S. State Department plans to consult with the families of American victims about the agreement on Friday. U.S. officials say the United States will accept the deal if the families agree to it.

However, it is not clear if the United States will end its own sanctions against Libya or remove the North African country from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

A Libyan agent is serving a life sentence for planting the bomb following his conviction in a Scottish court. A second Libyan was acquitted.