Skip to main content
ad info  law center > news
trials and cases
open forum
law library EUROPE:
Editions|myCNN|Video|Audio|News Brief|Free E-mail|Feedback  


Search tips

Prosecutor says witnesses saw rap star shoot gun in club

Embassy bombing defendants' confessions admissible, says U.S. Judge

KFC takes couple to court over chicken recipe

Discovery of bones may close O'Hair disappearance case

US, pyramid scheme firm reach $2.5 million settlement

Excerpt: John Grisham's 'A Painted House'



Indian PM criticises slow quake aid

Judge reorders Pinochet arrest

Davos outlines healthcare revolution

BSE scare threatens EU budget


 MARKETS    1613 GMT, 12/28



 All Scoreboards
European Forecast

 Or choose another Region:












CNN International



find law dictionary

Reporter's Notebook:

Remembering the Lockerbie tragedy

destroyed homes
Eleven people from the small village of Lockerbie, Scotland, died when the remains of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed into the area  

LONDON (CNN) -- The crash of Pan Am 103 had turned the small Scottish farming town of Lockerbie into an inferno. One whole neighborhood was in flames. That was where the fuel tanks hit, we learned ... much later. Other fires were scattered here and there, blazing into the sky and glittering up in reflections from the wet streets.

Amid the chaos and confusion, emergency workers did their jobs, it seemed, by rote.

The faces of the townspeople and firemen were drawn with the shock of it, no one knowing what had really happened to their little town. Each feared that some of the neighbors they had seen only minutes or hours before were dead. As it turned out, 11 residents of Lockerbie were killed on the ground as debris, body parts and fire rained from the sky when the ill-fated Boeing 747 exploded in mid-air. None of the 259 passengers and crew survived.

We arrived by charter plane from London a couple of hours after the news came out, contending the logistics of hauling camera and sound gear, finding a car to rent, trying to push a Stone-Age cell phone call through the packed circuits.


Latest Legal News

Law Library

FindLaw Consumer Center

Most people told us they had been eating dinner or watching pre-Christmas television when they heard -- they didn't know -- something like a train going by, or a bomb going off.

It was the evening of December 21, 1988. Pan American Flight 103 was on its way to New York from Frankfurt, after a stop at London's Heathrow Airport. Lockerbie had the bad luck to be at the end of the trajectory when a bomb blew the plane apart at 31,000 feet.

Luck had played a part in why some of the 259 people on board had made or had missed the flight.

And luck, in a way, was on the side of the police and investigators who were pouring into town.

If the bomb had exploded a couple of minutes later, Pan Am 103 would have been out over the Atlantic. The bodies, the debris, and the clues would have sunk to the bottom of the ocean. And the trial in the Netherlands just would not have happened.

In the morning we watched the cockpit section of the "Maid of the Seas" being winched out of the mud at Tundergarth, just outside Lockerbie.

British soldiers in combat fatigues and plumed caps were fanning out across the countryside, marking sites, making notes. The dismal job of collecting evidence came later.

search through rubble
Crews searched for evidence in the rubble caused by the crash of Pan Am Flight 103  

The wreckage was strewn over 850 square miles. One searcher told of finding a body, absolutely intact, sitting seemingly calm, still strapped into his airplane seat.

But investigators said those on board would have died quickly, even before the jagged metal, the slipstream, the impact, dismembered them.

Scottish police took their time with information, as is the way with their careful, stiff-backed legal system. For days, genially and politely, they told us almost nothing.

Thousands of bits of Boeing 747 were taken to a warehouse and pieced together, until they made what almost looked like an aircraft. The forensic investigation was massive and meticulous.

Christmas was called off that year in Lockerbie as the bodies came in from the morgue to a local church, and the relatives came in grief and in fury.

Within a few days, a group of Lockerbie women, sensing they would feel better if they did something, started dealing with the clothes and possessions.

They carefully washed everything, ironed the clothing, and that which could be identified was returned to the relatives.

'Pan Am 103': Parents of one victim tell their tale
June 21, 2000
Iran denies defector's terror claims; U.S. also doubts story
June 6, 2000
Iranian defector claims Tehran planned Lockerbie bombing, '60 Minutes' reports
June 4, 2000
Libya wants to restore its place in the world, but can it?
March 30,2000
Defense challenges collection of evidence in Lockerbie trial
May 9, 2000
Libyans weren't first suspects in Lockerbie bombing, police testify
May 5, 2000
Defendants plead not guilty to Pan Am 103 bombing in first day of trial
May 3, 2000
State Department to re-evaluate ban on travel to Libya
March 21, 2000
Lockerbie judge delays trial, gives defense setback
Dec. 8, 1999
Lockerbie defendants appear in court
Dec. 7, 1999
Reno, Scottish prosecutors meet families of Pan Am victims
Aug. 23, 1999
Evidence shows Gadhafi ordered Lockerbie bombing, paper says
May 23, 1999
U.S. opposes lifting U.N. sanctions on Libya
July 1, 1999
U.S., Libya hold first official talks in 18 years
June 11, 1999
U.N. to suspend sanctions as Libya delivers Lockerbie suspects
April 5, 1999

Lockerbie trial briefing unit
Pan Am 103/Lockerbie Crash Website
Pan Am 103 Trial Page
The Scottish courts
Syracuse University site
Libya: News and Views site
Libyan Mission to the United Nations site

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.