Cornyn, Gillibrand Introduce Bill to Help Ensure Justice for Lockerbie Bombing Victims’ Families
Legislation Would Give Surviving Relatives Remote Access to Court Proceedings
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) yesterday introduced the Meaningful Access to Court Proceedings for Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 Act, which would allow surviving relatives of the 270 victims, including 190 Americans, killed in the terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103 that crashed above Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 to access the criminal court proceedings remotely:
“For more than three decades, the families of the 270 individuals tragically killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 have waited for those responsible to be held accountable for this unspeakable act of terror,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation would ensure surviving family members can access the criminal court proceedings no matter where they live, and I urge my colleagues to pass it without delay.”
“The families of the 270 victims on board Pan Am Flight 103 – including 190 Americans and 35 Syracuse University students – deserve transparency and answers,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “They have the right to view the proceedings of this trial and I am introducing this legislation to make sure they can.”
On December 21, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice publicized a criminal complaint charging Abu Agila Mohammad M as’ud Kheir Al-Marimi (“Al-Marimi”) for his alleged role in building the bomb that detonated on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988, killing 270 people. Of the 270 people killed in the bombing, 190 were U.S. citizens from at least 12 States, 43 were United Kingdom nationals, and the remaining killed in the attack included nationals from 19 other countries, including Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago. In December of 2022, Al-Marimi made his initial appearance before a magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Given the amount of time that has passed since the bombing, a significant portion of surviving victims and next of kin are elderly and/or are physically unable to travel to Washington, D.C., to attend the court proceedings. The U.S. investigation into the bombing has been characterized by significant international cooperation and exchanges of evidence with law enforcement authorities from more than a dozen countries. Both U.S. and international victims of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing should have meaningful access to the court proceedings in the criminal case against Al-Marimi, and this legislation would provide statutory authority and instruction to the District Court to order and ensure that remote video and telephonic access to the trial proceedings be made available to any individual who suffered direct or proximate harm as a result of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and was present at or near the scene of the bombing when it occurred or immediately after or who is the spouse, legal guardian, parent, child, brother, sister, next of kin, or other relative determined by the District Court to be an individual who possesses a relationship of similar significance to a victim.