Scottish prosecutors on Thursday identified two Libyans as suspects in the 1988 terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103, also known as the Lockerbie bombing, Scottish prosecutors said.
The announcement is the latest twist in the one of the most infamous terrorist attacks in modern history. The case is still considered open.
The bombing killed 270 people in all – 259 on board and 11 on the ground. There were 178 Americans and 31 British people among the dead.
Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was found guilty in 2001 of planting the bomb – the only person convicted in the case. Families of the victims have long said they do not believe the whole story of the attack has been told. Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 because he had cancer and died in 2012.
Scottish detectives and the FBI want to interview the men in Tripoli.
A spokesman for the Crown Office said on Thursday:
"The Lord Advocate and the US Attorney General have recently agreed that there is a proper basis in law in Scotland and the United States to entitle Scottish and US investigators to treat two Libyans as suspects in the continuing investigation into the bombing of flight Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.
"The Lord Advocate has today, therefore, issued an International Letter of Request to the Libyan Attorney General in Tripoli which identifies the two Libyans as suspects in the bombing of flight Pan Am 103.
"The Lord Advocate and the US Attorney General are seeking the assistance of the Libyan judicial authorities for Scottish police officers and the FBI to interview the two named suspects in Tripoli.
"The two individuals are suspected of involvement, along with Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, in the bombing of flight Pan Am 103 in December 1988 and the murder of 270 people."
Megrahi in an undated file photo
The relatives of 26 bombing victims joined with Megrahi's family in a legal appeal to clear his name. In July, a court ruled they could not pursue the appeal. Aamer Anwar, solicitor for the families, said the “fight for justice” was not over.
“I was somewhat surprised by the statements made in relation to this decision,” Anwar told BuzzFeed News on Thursday. “I’ve spoken to a number of the families who tell me they are concerned and disappointed. As the door was closed on the victims families in pursuing miscarriage of justice, low and behold, prosecutors find the system is now working again and are pursuing new victims in Libya. What is the political interest of the parties and individuals backing this move?”
Anwar also had serious concerns as to the practicalities of pursuing the suspects in Libya.
“The question looms: who has the crown office been in touch with?" he said. "What authorities have they spoken to? If this is a quick soundbite, how does it intend to find the suspects? Libya is a failed state, and it is extremely dangerous to travel there. It will be very interesting to see how they intend to travel in the country to pursue these suspects. What procedures will be adopted? Will it even be possible? This isn’t a case of suspects living out in Dubai — the Crown Office can’t simply fly over.”
“They need to tread extremely carefully when such statement are made. They should not be raising the families hopes this way.”
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