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15 Years Later Families of Lockerbie Victims Still Trying to Find Answers


On the 15th anniversary of the Lockerbie tragedy that claimed 270 lives, British families still want answers to the basic questions behind the country's worst case of mass murder.

On December 21, 1988, Pan Am flight 103 was blown up over the small Scottish town of Lockerbie. All 259 people on board the 747 died along with eleven on the ground.

A Libyan, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, is now in a Scottish prison convicted of being part of the bombing.

But much more about the bombing remains unknown. Pamela Dix, the secretary of the U.K. Families of Flight 103, says this anniversary is deeply bitter for two reasons.

"It is hard enough when something like this happens, a catastrophic event that destroys a family in such a violent way is very hard to describe," she said. "What adds to the distress immeasurably is where relatives are left to try and find out answers to questions for themselves."

Ms. Dix, who lost her brother Peter in the bombing, says she will not rest until the whole truth is known.

"We could not have anticipated that here, 15 years later, we would still be asking who was responsible for it? Why was it done? What was the motivation behind the bombing? We still do not know the answers to those questions," said Ms. Dix.

Pamela Dix and members of her group would like to see a full public inquiry into the matter. But in the years since the tragedy, they have asked three prime ministers for that and still they wait. Ms. Dix believes if people like the current foreign secretary continue to refuse to grant them their wish, then a thorough investigation in another form might be acceptable.

"To date, Jack Straw has said that he is not in favor of an independent inquiry," she said. "So, taking that on board, we would like him to consider what forms of inquiry might be able to work. We have proposed different ideas to them and we would like the government to sit down and work through the ideas and consider what might be realistically achievable."

She says a failure to learn from the past means that more tragedies in the future are inevitable.

"Part of our job is to demonstrate to the government how relevant the issues surrounding Lockerbie still are," explained Ms. Dix. "Following 911, the Bali bombing, we are fully aware that terrorism is alive and well and unfortunately thriving. So the issue in relation to the reasons why Lockerbie happened are still relevant today in the year 2003."

Ms. Dix says although times move on and for many the Lockerbie bombing now is a distant, fading memory, the British families of the victims refuse to forget.