Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pan Am Flight 103 Air Crash Investigation Results

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By Anita Ortega

Investigators worked for years to solve the mystery of the Pan Am Fight 103 that came down 38 minutes after takeoff on its way to Detroit through London from Frankfurt. Pan Am Flight 103 air crash investigation team camped at Lockerbie in Scotland to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of 259 people on board and 11 on the ground. Preliminary investigations pointed at a bomb that was planted in the luggage section. The luggage could have found its way into the plane in Frankfurt.

The plane was traveling 31,000 feet when the bomb exploded. Investigations revealed that Libyan terrorists were responsible. The conclusions followed the gathering of thousands of pieces and information about the plane. It had to be reassembled in a warehouse to establish major facts. This was billed to be the most dangerous attacks in history and attracted a lot of attention.

It took three years for prosecutors to piece together the evidence presented before concluding that Libyans were involved. The two persons implicated with planning were Abdel Baset and Khalifa Al-Amin. After the cases were presented before the judges, the verdict exonerated Khalifa while Baset was found guilty and sentenced to serve life in prison. The judges also ruled that Libya should take responsibility for the act and pay 2.7 billion dollars.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch in UK handles all accidents on its airspace. They took over the case and combed an area of approximate 2000 square kilometers where they collected over 4million pieces of debris. They had to use the support of computers to document every piece that was collected.

When the theory that terrorism was involved emerged, investigators termed the crash as a criminal act. They found traces of RDX and PETN, chemical compounds that cause a Semtex explosion to occur. The most likely point of entry for the bomb was Frankfurt. Local police, FBI and Scotland Yard were involved in the investigations.

The entry of Americans into the investigations was because of the 189 citizens who formed part of the 270 people on board. Such a huge figure of deaths was only overtaken by the terrorist attack on 9/11. Court proceedings witnessed the presentation of 3,500 photos, 180,000 pieces as evidence and the testimonies of 15,000 people. 20 countries were covered during investigation. Libya took responsibility after UN imposed sanctions.

The total budget for investigations and trial amounted to 60 million dollars. This was a record breaking budget with 230 people being called to testify. Transcriptions for court proceedings went up to 10,000 pages while the total time taken for testimonies was 89 days. Despite all these investigations, some quotas claimed that the crash took a global political angle. This led the perpetrators to escape as investigators chased Libya. There was a claim that Iran was responsible through the aid of Palestinians. This was to retaliate for their plane that was grounded by Americans killing 290 people in the Persian Gulf.

Iran entered into the picture because 290 of its citizen civilians were killed in the Persian Gulf when America brought down its plane. It is also believed that Libya was coerced into taking responsibility for political reasons. Some powers sort to make political or ideological gains by implicating Libya. This means that the truth about the crush may never be known.

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