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Justice for Libya, and Pan Am victims

By Brian Flynn, Special to CNN
October 21, 2011 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Kids wave National Transitional Council flags in Tripoli after news of Moammar Gadhafi's capture. He was later reported killed.
Kids wave National Transitional Council flags in Tripoli after news of Moammar Gadhafi's capture. He was later reported killed.
  • Brian Flynn: It has been 23 years since bombing of Pan Am 103
  • Flynn' s brother was killed in the bombing, and family has waited for justice
  • He says he would rather have seen Gadhafi face war crimes trial for harm he caused
  • Flynn: It isn't about revenge, but justice for Pan Am victims and for Libya's people

Editor's note: Brian Flynn is the brother of Lockerbie victim J.P. Flynn and vice president of Pan Am 103, an advocacy organization. He is a business adviser.

New York (CNN) -- Many times I've watched in dismay as crowds of Moammar Gadhafi supporters gathered to wave flags in front of Libya's former dictator -- in particular, two years ago, when the convicted murderer Abdul Al Megrahi returned to his home country under the guise of near-death, to be welcomed as a hero, banners waving, Gadhafi embracing the man who helped him kill my brother.

We watched in jaw-dropped horror as these two conspirators embraced in front of what we believed to be a throng of paid political cheerleaders.

We'd often heard that part of the way Gadhafi kept up the sparkly image of a happy, well-led people was to pay them to show up and look as though they were viewing a god. It's classic imperial propaganda: Make sure the little people show the love when the cameras are on. It's a method designed by Joseph Goebbels and painstakingly perfected by Gadhafi.

Brian Flynn
Brian Flynn

Today, as I look at the images streaming from halfway around the world, my heart is deeply moved by what I see on the faces of a liberated people. In a country where the economic disparity has historically been far greater than any place since Ancient Rome, a true revolution has occurred. The impoverished, the downtrodden, the unlawfully imprisoned, the enslaved, are all pouring into the streets with their new, green flag of freedom, tears of relief and even disbelief etched on their faces.

This is their day. My 23-year struggle for justice is a grain of sand compared to what the Libyan people have endured.

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Gadhafi and the truth of Lockerbie
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Gadhafi's burial delayed

I have had countless e-mails and phone calls today, asking me if I'm happy, and if I feel that my brother can finally rest in peace. At the risk of sounding like I'm never satisfied, I have to say that I am not entirely happy. Sure, some weird, throttled joy is bubbling up in me today, and I don't hold with any camp that would contend that "Gadhafi deserved a fair trial." But yet I fear that with his death goes a warehouse of secrets and lies that could have been revealed in order to salve the souls of Libyan families who lost loved ones during this regime. Men and women have literally disappeared from their houses and places of work and worship, only to be buried in mass graves.

I know where my brother rests in peace, innocent of any crime other than being an American on the wrong plane at the very wrong time in history. Rather than wanting to see the kind of freak-show snuff film of Gadhafi that is worming its way through the internet as I write this, I would have far preferred to watch him from a front row seat in the Hague as he, in true Milosevic style, would have been made to answer for his countless hideous crimes.

In the 23 years since I lost my brother I have fought (alongside my parents) for this day. Many times I have been accused of wanting revenge, of not tempering my desire to see Gadhafi and all his cohorts brought to heel. Today, as that dish is served to me ice-cold, I can tell you honestly it has never been about revenge.

Today, as ever, it has been about justice, for those 270 innocent American and Scottish citizens who fell to earth like so many doused stars on a cold night in late December. Today, as ever, it has also been about justice for the 6.5 million Libyans, who no longer need to be paid to look happy when the world's cameras point their way.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Brian Flynn.

Part of complete coverage on
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