Lockerbie victims' luggage returned to families

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The Independent Online

Luggage and personal effects belonging to more than 100 people killed in the Lockerbie bombing are to be returned to relatives almost 14 years after the tragedy.

Luggage and personal effects belonging to more than 100 people killed in the Lockerbie bombing are to be returned to relatives almost 14 years after the tragedy.

The baggage and contents had been held by police since the New York-bound Pan Am Flight 103 crashed in 1988 killing all 259 passengers and 11 residents of the Scottish border town of Lockerbie where the wreckage fell

However, since the dismissal last month of the appeal by Abdelbaset ali Mohamed-al Megrahi against his conviction for murder, police no longer have any use for items which had been seen as evidence.

At the time, thousands of items of luggage, clothing, and personal effects were recovered by police at the scene of the tragedy for forensic examination. Although many items were given to families of the victims soon afterwards, some items which were – or might have been – needed.

Next month, a team of nine officers and two support staff from Dumfries and Galloway Police will begin returning items to families in Britain, America and elsewhere.

So far the police have received requests from 43 families for their property to be delivered in person – 47 have said they are willing to have it posted. 12 are believed to have asked for their relatives' remaining effects to be destroyed.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tom McCulloch, who is leading the operation, said yesterday the return of the property would be an emotional experience.

Al-Megrahi was found guilty in January 2001 following a trial under Scottish law in a specially constructed court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. His co-accused Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah was found not guilty.

Although Al-Megrahi appealed against his conviction his case was dismissed by a panel of judges on 14 March this year and he was transferred to Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow to continue serving his sentence.

The failure of his appeal means the investigation is now at an end. Earlier this month the Scottish Executive formally returned the Camp Zeist site to the Dutch government.

Yesterday Judy Williams, of Maryland, US, whose son, George, was killed in the crash said of his luggage: "It will just be another milestone on the road of our grief. We'll never get over his loss."

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