Lockerbie: QC read names of all the victims. It took an hour

The list of passengers and crew, given as evidence, provides possible clues as to why bombers attacked Pan Am flight 103

First came the names of the passengers. They were read out along with their addresses in alphabetical order, starting with John Ahern of Sherman Avenue, New York, and ending with Mark Zwynenburg, from a suburb of the same city.

Next was read a list of the 16 crew who had been on board the Pan Am jet as it took off from Heathrow on 21 December 1988, bound for America. And then, finally, read at the same slow pace, came the names of the 11 residents of Lockerbie who died when flight 103 exploded above their town. All had lived in the same street.

There were 270 names in all and it took Alistair Campbell QC 13 seconds shy of an hour yesterday afternoon to work his way through them at a dignified pace. He stumbled just once.

The identity of those who were killed by the Lockerbie bombing is no secret. But as their names were read to the Scottish Court in the Netherlands yesterday - technically lodged as a piece of uncontested evidence - they took on a power far outweighing that of a simple list.

For the families of those whose names were read out it was an emotional event. This week, they have seen the two Libyans accused of murder - Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah - and heard the outline of the evidence against them. But yesterday appeared to be much more upsetting.

"Today, the prosecution brought in it's most important 270 witnesses - in absentia," said Bert Ammerman, one of the relatives. He could barely speak for tears.

Mr Ammerman's brother, Thomas, 36, a shipping executive with two daughters, was fifth on the list. He had been travelling back alone on flight 103 to his home in New Jersey after a business trip. Others were travelling in groups: couples, mothers with their babies and families.

The bombers of flight 103 did not discriminate on grounds of nationality. Most of the victims were Americans, but the dead included South Africans, Swedes and French. Three of the names belonged to a family from Koto Utca in Hungary.

The list also contained possible clues as to why the plane was brought down. Name 110 was Khaled Jaafar, 20, a Lebanese-American and allegedly a member of a drug-producing family from the Bekaa Valley who had been ordered by Hizbollah to take heroin to America. One theory says that, unknown to him, the package was swapped for a bomb at Frankfurt by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command.

A few moments later, the court was read the name of Charles McKee, a senior officer with the US Central Intelligence Agency, returning from Beirut. Another theory says Major McKee was working to free the Lebanon hostages and was murdered to stop him getting back to America with information. Major McKee was name number 137: half an hour had passed and we were only half way through the list.

Afterwards, the court adjourned for the weekend, and the families filed out. "Normally you would expect a prayer after the list of the dead," said Bruce Smith, whose British wife Ingrid was among the victims. "But in some ways I suppose it was a prayer in itself."

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all failed
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?