A Scottish priest who served in Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, at the time a Pan Am airliner was blown out of the sky by terrorists has appealed to American families who lost loved ones to back calls for a comprehensive inquiry.
F Patrick Keegans, of the Diocese of Galloway, has written an open letter to families of US victims seeking their support for a fresh investigation into the December 21 1988 attack on Pan Am Flight 103, which killed everyone on board and 11 people on the ground.
The letter follows a 1500-signature petition handed in to MSPs in October, which called on the Scottish Government to open an independent inquiry into the conviction of Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the only person so far convicted of the bombing.
Megrahi’s release on compassionate grounds last year divided opinion, causing fury in America where the families of most of the victims live.
Fr Keegan’s letter asks US families to “show your concern for the legitimate and sincere views consistently held by me and many others.”
“Your certainty in the validity of the trial and conviction should allow you accept that such an inquiry would vindicate your belief and you should have nothing to fear from it,” he adds.
“Whatever our views, it is clear that the full truth has not emerged; people who murdered our family members and friends are still at large.
“There has been a conviction which is not universally accepted but has been questioned by many. A full, public, independent inquiry into all aspects of the bombing would assist us in finding truth and justice.”
F Keegans – whose home in Lockerbie escaped virtually unscathed as burning debris from Flight 103 demolished neighbouring houses – has been a counsellor for bereaved relatives in Scotland and overseas as well as a long-standing critic of the investigation and trial which led to Megrahi’s conviction.
Fr Keegans said he wrote to the families after receiving an email from Frank Duggan, president of the US family group, criticising comments made by Cardinal Keith O’Brien last month (November) supporting an independent inquiry into the conviction of Megrahi.
Cardinal O’Brien said: “Over the years the clamour has grown amongst lawyers, politicians, academics and a growing number of ordinary citizens that the verdict amounted to a miscarriage of justice.”
The cardinal has previously criticised the “culture of vengeance” he sensed over Megrahi in the United States.