Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lockerbie victims' families call payment repulsive

Lockerbie victims' families call payment repulsive


November 18, 2008

For Siobhan Mulroy, who lost six relatives when a terrorist bomb ripped apart a Pan Am 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the final restitution from Libya doesn't bring relief, or satisfaction, or closure. The feeling, she said, is closer to revulsion.

"It's kind of a repulsive situation to be in where people are offering money, I guess, to make you feel better," said Mulroy of East Northport, who lost her father, brother, sister-in-law, uncle, aunt and cousin.

Libya on Oct. 31 made a $1.5-billion final payment for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988, and the 1986 bombing of a German disco. President George W. Bush called Libya's Moammar Gadhafi to express his satisfaction with the payment, the White House said yesterday.

Relatives of victims yesterday said the settlement has been too long in coming - and that it offers little comfort. Each family, except for two that refused the money, will receive a final installment of $2 million, bringing the total per victim to $10 million.

"I'm glad that the president is satisfied with it. I'm certainly not," said Peter Lowenstein of Montauk, whose son, Alexander, was one of 35 Syracuse University students on the flight who had been in London for the semester. "I don't recall him losing a relative on Flight 103.

"His interest is to satisfy the oil industry, who are major supporters of his. ... He wants what they want, which is to get Libyan oil."

Daniel Tobin, who lost his brother Mark Tobin of Hempstead, said the money doesn't put the issue to rest.

"So many have forgotten us. ... I'm still concerned that Exxon Mobil and other oil companies, that they're able to do business with Gadhafi," said Tobin, also of Hempstead. "They're allowed to do business with terrorists."

Kara Weipz, president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, said Libya's payment - which allows Tripoli to restore its diplomatic relations with Washington - marks an important step.

"Our intent when we went into the civil suit was to find out the whole truth of what happened," said Weipz, whose brother, Richard Monetti, 20, was one of the Syracuse students.

That goal hasn't been established, but "we held them accountable for being a sponsor of terrorism," said Weipz, 35, of Mount Laurel, N.J.

On that December evening nearly 20 years ago, Siobhan Mulroy's father was returning from a business trip. Her brother and his new bride were coming from Sweden to celebrate their first Christmas together. Mulroy's aunt, uncle and 16-year-old cousin were traveling from England to the United States for the first time. They had all met in London for the flight.

"I'd rather have them than anything that could be ever paid to me," Mulroy said.

Making amends

Last month, Libya made a final $1.5-billion payment of the $1.8 billion it will shell out to settle disputes over terrorist attacks in 1986 and 1988.

$1.5 billion. For families of 270 victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland; and for the wounded and families of the dead in the 1986 bombing of a German disco that killed three, including two American soldiers.

$300 million. For Libyan victims of 1986 U.S. airstrikes on Tripoli and Benghazi in retaliation for the disco attacks.


1986. U.S. imposes sanctions against Libya after terrorist bombing at a West Berlin club frequented by American military personnel.

DEC. 21, 1988. New York-bound Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 on board and 11 on the ground.

1991. U.S. and Britain indict two Libyans on 270 counts of murder and conspiracy to murder.

1992-1993. UN Security Council imposes and tightens sanctions against Libya.

2000-2001. Two Libyans tried on murder charges; one is convicted, one acquitted.

2002. Libya offers to settle claims by victims' families, described as effort to lift U.S. and UN sanctions.

2003. UN Security Council lifts sanctions, clearing way for families to receive at least $4-million compensation for each victim.

2004. U.S. lifts some sanctions.

2008. Libya's $1.5-billion payment Oct. 31 clears last hurdle in restoration of diplomatic relations with Washington. The money will go into a $1.8 billion fund for victims of Flight 103 and the 1986 German disco bombing and a $300 million fund for Libyan victims of retaliatory U.S. airstrikes.

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