NEWS

Lockerbie Victim's Father Visits Al-Megrahi To 'Say Goodbye'

19/01/2012 12:47

A father who lost his daughter in the Lockerbie bombing has travelled to Libya to "say goodbye" to the man convicted of the atrocity.

Dr Jim Swire, whose 23-year-old daughter Flora was among 270 people killed when Pam Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, in Dumfries and Galloway, four days before Christmas in 1988, said Abdelbaset al-Megrahi "does not have much time left".

Megrahi was freed on compassionate grounds from Greenock Prison in Inverclyde in August 2009 after being diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. At the time doctors estimated that he had only three months to live.

He was found guilty of carrying out the bombing by a Scottish court sitting at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in 2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Dr Swire said he has doubted Megrahi's guilt ever since the trial, and since then he has become "entirely satisfied" that he was not to blame.

He spent just over a week in Libya's capital Tripoli, and said he believes it is the last time he will see Megrahi alive.

The 75-year-old, who lives in Gloucestershire, said: "It was very much a trip for me to say goodbye to him, which is something I wanted to do because he is very much terminally ill. He doesn't have much time left.

"He is quite unable to get out of bed and he can only speak in short sentences now because of his shortness of breath.

"I wanted to make sure he has the right pain killers, as I used to be a doctor, and he did.

"Although he is in a lot of pain he is still very concerned about making sure I am able to see documents his defence solicitors had (during the trial) after he dies.

"He realises that all I'm trying to do is find out who murdered our daughter. It may seem unusual but I have come to regard him as a friend and he has a very generous heart to be worried about that matter when he is so close to death."

Dr Swire's visit to Tripoli was filmed for a documentary which is aired tonight on ITV.

The programme, called Did Gaddafi Kill My Daughter?, shows Dr Swire meeting key figures in the Libyan interim government as he continues his quest to find out who was responsible for Flora's murder.

He said as a result, he remains suspicious of former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's potential involvement, but has not yet come to a conclusion.

Dr Swire said: "Although I am satisfied that Mr Megrahi was not involved, I have never claimed to know who was, and I've never claimed to know whether Gaddafi was or not.

"During previous visits I was unable to speak to anyone because they were all fearing for their lives. I must say, there is a real euphoric feeling amongst the Libyan people because of their new-found freedom.

"On this trip I still wasn't able to get the answers I was looking for as everyone involved in the regime is either in hospital or prison so I couldn't speak to them.

"I met with the interim government's security chief and I had a positive response from him about my return at a later date to find out more. He understands the simplicity of me just wanting to find out who murdered my daughter.

"A lot of people over there were amazed that I do not think Mr Megrahi was involved - because they naturally assume he was due to his conviction.

"I think that government needs time to establish itself but I think they will be prepared to answer questions. However, it is only one of many atrocious crimes Gaddafi is accused of."

Dr Swire is part of the Justice For Megrahi campaign group, which has put a petition before the Scottish Government's justice committee calling for an inquiry into Megrahi's conviction.

About 1,500 people signed the petition before it was lodged at Holyrood.

The pressure group also sent a written submission to the committee, which said: "It is time for the Government of Scotland to show real independence by standing up to the UK and US governments and other vested interests and instituting an open and accountable judicial inquiry that would at last free the people of Scotland and the relatives of those lost in that terrible tragedy 22 years ago."

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