Widow of Lockerbie bombing victim says suspect being tried in US court is 'fitting'

'This is justice', widow of Michael Bernstein told reporters after the suspect's first hearing

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The widow of Lockerbie bombing victim Michael Bernstein has said it is "fitting" that the man accused of making the bomb that downed Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 is being tried in US court.

"He is an old man who murdered a tremendous number of people. It is what should have happened a long time ago that we had him in our custody," Stephanie Bernstein told reporters outside a US court on Monday.

Michael Bernstein is one of 190 Americans killed when the bomb exploded 38 minutes into the flight as the plane, which took off from London's Heathrow airport, flew over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 12, 1988.

An artist's sketch depicts US prosecutor Erik Kenerson, front left, watching as Whitney Minter, a public defender, stands to represent Abu Agila Mohammad Masud in federal court in Washington as Judge Robin Meriweather listens. AP

A total of 270 people were killed that day, including 11 residents of the town. The bodies of seven people were not found and 10 victims remain unidentified.

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the incident, said he did not think the case should be held in the US.

No country should be "complainant, prosecutor and judge", Dr Swire said in an interview with BBC Radio Scotland on Monday, calling instead for a UN court to hold the trial.

According to the FBI, Libyan citizen Abu Agila Mohammad Masud confessed to making the bomb responsible for the 270 deaths in an interview he conducted with Libyan security forces in 2012, a year after Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi was deposed and killed.

Masud told the security official that Qaddafi had thanked him for his operation against the US, an FBI agent said in an affidavit submitted in 2020.

Eleven years after the attack, Libya handed over two suspects to a court in the Netherlands where one, Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, was found guilty in 2001 but was released in 2009 on grounds of compassion as he suffered from cancer.

"That was a travesty," Ms Bernstein told the Associated Press.

Al Megrahi died three years later.

The other suspect, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted of all charges.

"The trial that took place in the Netherlands under Scottish law ... was not justice, in my view," Ms Bernstein said.

"[Masud] is being accorded every single right that we have available and he is going to be prosecuted on our soil for the murder of 190 American citizens, including my husband. This is justice."

Updated: December 13, 2022, 8:33 AM