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Lockerbie (1988)

Pan Am flight 103 – a Boeing 747-121 named Clipper Maid of the Seas – left London Heathrow Airport at 6:25 pm on 21 December 1988 en route for New York JFK Airport and on to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

Approximately 40 minutes later, an explosion onboard the plane ripped a 20-inch hole in the fuselage, effectively blowing off the nose of the aeroplane.

The fuselage crashed into the Scottish town of Lockerbie, destroying several houses. The jet fuel ignited on impact and started fires which destroyed several additional houses.

The flight deck and nose landing gear ended up in a field 2.5 miles east of Lockerbie, opposite Tundergarth Church.

All 243 passengers and 16 crew members were killed, as were 11 residents of Lockerbie on the ground. Among the passengers was Paul Jeffreys, the former bass player with Be-Bop Deluxe and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel.

Scottish and US courts eventually indicted two Libyan men, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, over the bombing.

However, Libya refused to extradite them, resulting in an impasse until 1999 when they were handed over after protracted negotiations.

On 10 July 1992, a New York jury found Pan Am responsible for allowing a terrorist to destroy Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people.

In January 2001, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was found guilty of mass murder after a trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands and sentenced to life in prison. Fhimah was cleared of all charges.

The trial, which began in May 2000, was held under Scottish law in the neutral venue and presided over by three Scottish judges.

Following the conviction, al-Megrahi, who had been a Libyan intelligence officer, was sent to a maximum security prison in Glasgow.

Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi accepted blame for the bombing in August 2003 and agreed to compensate the victims’ families.

Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was released in August 2009 on compassionate health grounds. The convicted murderer was returned to Libya where he received a hero’s welcome from cheering crowds in Tripoli.

He died in May 2012.