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Lockerbie victim's brother says Gadhafi's killing is justice

From Susan Candiotti and Ross Levitt, CNN
October 21, 2011 -- Updated 0107 GMT (0907 HKT)
  • NEW: Obama tells Libyans "You have won your revolution"
  • NEW: Libya's new government is not likely to send back al-Megrahi
  • NEW: "Part of me thinks this had to end this way," Brian Flynn says
  • Flynn's brother was one of 35 university students killed in the 1988 bombing

(CNN) -- Brian Flynn, brother of a victim aboard downed Pan Am Flight 103, said Thursday that the killing of former Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi is a moment of justice.

"For more than 20 years, (Gadhafi) continued to haunt the world," he said. "We can take some satisfaction that justice can be done."

LIVE BLOG: Latest developments on Gadhafi's death

A bomb left 270 people dead when it exploded aboard the Boeing 747 as it flew over Lockerbie, Scotland, less than a week before Christmas day in 1988. The attack ultimately was pinned on Libyan intelligence officials.

A policeman examines the site where a Boeing 747 crashed after exploding over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988.
A policeman examines the site where a Boeing 747 crashed after exploding over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988.

Flynn's brother, John Patrick, was one of 35 university students killed in the tragedy. A permanent memorial at New York's Syracuse University was dedicated to the victims.

Read Brian Flynn's essay

Flynn says he's been in contact with other victims' families, who likely shared a range of emotions upon hearing news of Gadhafi's death.

"We're all together on this," he said of the families.

"This is one of those situations that when (John Patrick Flynn) died, I said I promised him and myself that I wouldn't let it go, that there would be justice," he told CNN. "Today is an example that after 22 years, finally justice is done. I owed him that."

He says he felt "the Libyan people have helped me fulfill my promise to him."

"We commend and admire the courage of the Libyans, knowing that their freedom has come at a cost," Flynn added.

"It's taken great courage also on the part of the Obama administration to lead the NATO forces against challenging political and diplomatic circumstances," he said.

U.S. and European war planes began a military campaign against Libyan government forces in March of this year in support of the country's rebels, helping to eventually oust the longtime strongman in August after more than four decades of near-absolute rule.

Gadhafi and the truth of Lockerbie

Gadhafi's death an answer to little girl's prayer

"Part of me thinks this story had to end this way," Flynn added, referring to the former Libyan leader's being killed rather than captured.

"Although it's sometimes hard to celebrate when someone gets killed brutally," he said, "I think in this case there's every cause for celebration.

"He was an unrepentant murderer who was oppressive of his people."

Two years earlier, the only convicted Lockerbie plotter, Abdelbeset al-Megrahi, was freed from a Scotland prison after serving eight years of a life sentence. He was set free on compassionate grounds because he was battling prostate cancer.

Al-Megrahi received a hero's welcome upon his return to Tripoli, enraging many in the United States and Britain.

But a Libyan envoy said the new government is not likely to send him back.

That country's ambassador to the United States cited al-Megrahi's poor health as a factor, saying he is a "very sick man" and is "living with oxygen beside his bed."

At the time of his release, doctors had said he had only months to live, but al-Megrahi was still alive -- albeit visibly frail -- as of a few weeks ago.

So when news reports surfaced Thursday of Gadhafi's death, Flynn said he took a moment and thought that "it's worth it, to get justice."

U.S. President Barack Obama announced later Thursday that "today we can definitely say the Gadhafi regime has come to an end."

Speaking during a White House press conference, he said the United States is committed to Libya and will support the country's democratic transition.

"You have won your revolution," he added, addressing the Libyan people.

For others, Gadhafi's killing also likely marks an end to more than two decades of documenting the Lockerbie tragedy.

Two years after the 1988 bombing, Syracuse University Archivist Amy S. Doherty said she contacted the families of the school's slain students, offering the archives as a place for families to donate "correspondence, journals, diaries, photographs, newspaper clippings, examples of creative work, video and audio tapes by or about their child or about the events following the disaster."

The first collection from a victim arrived in September 1990, according to a university statement.

Since then, materials relating to all 35 students have been added.

In 2006, the scope of the archives was expanded to include items pertaining to all 270 victims.

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