Did British Petroleum violate the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act? The question has nothing to do with the massive oil leak in the Gulf, but with an international furor created nearly a year ago when the lone suspect convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, was set free after serving just 8 years of a life sentence. The bombing killed 270 people, including 35 students from Syracuse University. As YNN's Bill Carey tells us, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer came to the SU campus to join some of the victim's family members who are calling for the U.S. Justice Department to find out just what happened.
NEW YORK STATE -- "It has been a long time. It has. Almost 22 years," said Martha Alderman-Boyer, a sister of a Pan Am 103 victim.
For Alderman-Boyer, it marked another chapter in a long story.
In 1988, a bomb brought down a jumbo jet over Scotland. Among those on board, her sister, Paula, and Paula's husband, Glenn Bouckley. They were among the 270 who died.
Alderman-Boyer listened as Senator Charles Schumer laid out his case for a U.S. Justice Department probe of British Petroleum. Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was serving time in this prison in Glasgow for the Lockerbie bombing when Scottish authorities reported he had advanced prostate cancer and would be set free on compassionate grounds. Al-Megrahi returned home to a hero's welcome. Schumer says it was all a sham.
"The doctor who originally said al-Megrahi had three months to live told the world he was pressured to give false diagnoses. And that, actually, the terrorist, al-Megrahi, could live for as many as 10 more years," Schumer said.
What was at work, Schumer claims, is lobbying by British Petroleum with the British government to clear the way for a massive oil deal. Lobbying that Schumer claims violated U.S. law. The Senator says a full investigation might lay the groundwork for al-Megrahi to go back to jail.
"End the contract between BP and Libya, which would put pressure on Libya and then maybe even Libya would be forced to return al-Megrahi," Schumer said.
Linda Smith's sister, Suzanne Miazga, was among the SU students killed in the bombing.
"If we are truly fighting a war on terror, we need to make sure that terrorists are held accountable," Smith said.
From the start, more than two decades ago, the story of Pan Am 103 has been more about questions. And rarely about answers. And no matter al-Megrahi's fate, there remain troubling questions about the full extent on the conspiracy.
"I would like to see a finish to the first trial. I'd like to see all those involved behind bars and to stay behind bars," Alderman-Boyer said.
Another chapter in a long story, but far from the final chapter.
The new British Prime Minister told the BBC Monday that the decision to release Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was, in his words, "completely and utterly wrong." Cameron, who is due in the U.S. on Tuesday, said he had no information tying lobbying by BP to the release.