Families Of US Lockerbie Victims Vow to Press on With Fight against Libya
Families of US victims killed in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing vowed Thursday not to relent in their pressure to make Libya accept responsibility for the destruction of PanAm 103.
"We're not going away," said Bob Monetti after he and 47 other family members met Secretary of State Colin Powell to discuss the conviction last week of a Libyan intelligence agent for the bombing that killed 270 people.
"We will be on top of them regularly," Monetti said, referring to US officials who following the conviction of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi are demanding that the Libyan government and its leader Muammar Kadhafi accept responsibility for the bombing and pay compensation.
Monetti, whose 20-year-old son was killed in the attack, and others said they were generally pleased by the message they heard from Powell who wrote the families after the conviction to assure them Washington would continue to press for Tripoli to take responsibility.
"I would have to say at this point, I am satisfied," said Daniel Cohen, referring to the assurances given to the families by Powell.
Cohen and others said Powell had pledged to keep US unilateral sanctions against Libya as well as UN sanctions against Libya in place until Tripoli complied with the requirements for their being lifted.
"The simple verdict itself was not the end at all," said Cohen, one of the most outspoken advocates for the Lockerbie victims whose 20-year-old daughter Theo was aboard PanAm 103. "The Libyans cannot wiggle out of this one."
Some of the Lockerbie victims' families have been at odds with the succession of four US administrations that have dealt with the case and Thursday's talk with Powell clearly did not satisfy all of them.
"What we heard was boilerplate diplomacy," said Aphrodite Tsairis, who said she had suggested a naval blockade of Libya until Tripoli admitted its complicity in the bombing.
Tsairis, whose 20-year-old daughter Alexia was killed in the attack, said Powell had not shown particular enthusiasm for the blockade idea, adding she didn't think Washington was aggressive enough in fighting for justice.
"I think he is just going to let the UN resolutions play out and wait for Kadhafi to take responsibility," she said.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Powell had called the meeting to "consult with (the families) to discuss how we move next on these issues after the trial and the verdict."
Megrahi has appealed the conviction and both the State and Justice departments have said they will actively pursue the case and follow any evidence that was uncovered in the trial or appeal -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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