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Lockerbie divided over verdict

LOCKERBIE, Scotland (CNN) -- People living in Lockerbie at the time of the disaster and others who witnessed its aftermath are spilt down the middle over the trial's result -- just like the verdict.

One of the two Libyans accused of murdering 270 people in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, was found guilty of mass murder and now faces life imprisonment in a Scottish jail.

The other defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was cleared by judges sitting at a special court in the Netherlands.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who was Secretary of State for Scotland at the time of the disaster, welcomed the decision.

Speaking from his home in Edinburgh he said: "It is very much to be welcomed that justice has been done.

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Andrew Campbell of Dumfries Galloway council: No hiding place for such atrocities

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CNN's Walter Rodgers: Some say it was a great verdict

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"The independence of the court and the findings of the trial cannot be in doubt.

"The result will bring some comfort to the relatives of those who died."

Moira Shearer, 65, from Lockerbie, helped in the town's clean-up operation. After hearing the verdict she said: "We have just got to go with what the judges have said.

"I feel in a way that we will never get the whole truth about what happened."

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Walter Rodgers was told by another resident, Peggy Kyle, that the verdict was a "disaster."

"I can't believe it -- if one is guilty then obviously the other one is -- it is a disaster. I can't understand the verdict."

She said she believed the case would be taken by the relatives of those who died to the civil court.

Kyle said that many U.S. citizens came regularly to look at the memorial set up in the town.

"People are always going to be coming here -- people who lost their children -- it is so sad."

An eyewitness of the bombing said: "We in Lockerbie are quite happy at the verdict. As far as I am concerned justice has been done," said Maxwell Kerr, who had watched burning debris rain down on the town.

Ian Campbell, 70, who returned from where he is now living in Germany to see the live television coverage of the verdict, said he was surprised by the result.

"It is a surprise that one is guilty and one is not guilty. You don't feel that the book is closed yet. However, it was so long ago that many people are wanting to get on with life. It really traumatised the whole area."

Recalling the tragic night, Campbell said his life was saved as he went out for a takeaway fish and chips dinner at the fateful time.

"I was walking down the road with a fish supper. If I hadn't turned back to go to the toilet I could have walked right into it."

'Degree of relief'

Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway William Rae, said: "Our primary focus has been on the pursuit of the criminal inquiry whilst maintaining the strong emphasis on human values ... we have treated each of the 270 people who was murdered as an individual."

Retired police superintendent John Carpenter, on duty on the night of the tragedy, said he was "absolutely delighted."

Carpenter, 56, from Lockerbie, said: "I think from the outset there was a prima facie case and this has been vindicated."

Labour MP for Dumfries, Russell Brown, said: "I think there will be a degree of relief on the part of many people that a guilty verdict has been secured in all of this.

"I strongly suspect you will see an appeal being lodged in the next few days and we have also got the UK families representatives wishing to make a plea for an inquiry to be held."

The residents of Lockerbie are being forced to relive the night their village was given global status with a branding of fire, death and destruction.

One of the Libyans accused of murdering 270 people in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing was found guilty of murder on Wednesday. The second defendant was found not guilty.

Twelve years after the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing in which 170 people were killed, the night death rained down on Lockerbie remains a vivid memory for Marjory McQueen.

McQueen, one of the town's two councillors, has since become a voice for the small community near the Scottish-English border which she says "did not choose to be famous."

She and the 3,500 other townsfolk were attempting to go about their business as normal -- but aware that once again Lockerbie is a name echoing around the world.

"It is a very strange thing, but there is not the depth of feeling you would expect in the town about the result of this trial," she said.

The villagers heard what many thought was a thunderstorm -- but it got louder and nearer, until the Boeing 747 smashed into the ground at 7.03 in the evening, killing 11 residents as well as the 259 people on board.

The cockpit section came down about five miles out of town, near a country church and graveyard. The fuselage hit the Rosebank neighbourhood on the northern edge of town.

The wing section -- laden with burning fuel -- fell on a district called Sherwood.

In the wake of the catastrophe, Lockerbie's town hall and its ice rink were pressed into service as a temporary mortuary. Searchers and investigators descended on the town to mount a massive search covering hundreds of square miles.

Only one relative of those killed in Lockerbie itself still lives in the village. All the others have moved away to escape the nightmares.



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RELATED SITES:
Pan Am 103 crash
Lockerbie Trial Briefing Site
Lockerbie Accident Investigation
Pan Am 103 Trial page
Lockerbie
Camp Zeist

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