OSWEGO – United States Senator Charles Schumer commented Sunday to the death of convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was released from prison almost three years ago on the so-called compassionate claim that the terrorist only had three months to live.
Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of the bombing of Pam Am flight 103 en route from London’s Heathrow Airport to New York’s Kennedy International Airport, killing all 259 people on board (including those with ties to Oswego) and 11 on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland.
Many New Yorkers and New Jersey residents were on board, including 180 Americans and a contingent of students from Syracuse University as well as SUNY Oswego.
Despite being sentenced to life in prison, Megrahi was released in August 2009 on compassionate grounds that claimed the terrorist had only three months to live after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Serious questions emerged over whether Megrahi’s release was connected to an oil deal between BP and the Libyan government, under pressure from the British government.
Schumer’s advocacy to return Megrahi to prison culminated with an extraordinary meeting the Senator led with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Washington, DC in July 2010.
Schumer said that while the death of Megrahi may help bring some closure, it’s unfortunate that the convicted terrorist was able to live out his remaining days with his family, despite having maliciously denied that right to so many New Yorkers.
“It is a grave injustice that this evil terrorist, who caused so much heartache and havoc, died in freedom instead of behind bars where he belongs. It is particularly offensive that he was able to spend his last days with his family after having denied so many Americans the same opportunity,” the senator said. “The Al-Megrahi debacle goes down as one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice of the 20th Century.”
“To this day, the British and Scottish governments have not come clean about how this mass-murderer got his freedom and the transaction still has the unholy stench of oil for blood. History shows the truth almost always comes out; in this case we hope it is sooner rather than later,” the senator added.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released the following statement on the death of Libyan terrorist and convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi:
“The deaths of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi and Muammar Gaddafi brings to a close the total miscarriage of justice that needlessly brought more pain to the families of Pan Am Flight 103. While this will never heal the pain of the horrific day that took so many innocent lives, I hope this will bring families the comfort that Mr. Megrahi is no longer living free as a hero for his act of terror.”
Nearly three years ago, a ceremony in SUNY Oswego’s Penfield Library Celebrated the lives of the two SUNY Oswego Students murdered in the attack.
They lost their lives Dec. 21, 1988, as the result of a terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Their spirits, however, live on forever at SUNY Oswego, an inspiration to all that have come after them.
In December 2008, SUNY Oswego faculty, staff and students mourned the loss of two of its students who lost their lives when Pan Am flight 103 went down over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Nearly 100 family and friends joined with college officials June 7 to pay special tribute to the pair during Alumni Weekend festivities.
Dr. Joseph Grant, VP and dean of admissions at the college welcomed the huge gathering crowded into the lobby of Penfield Library near a memorial to Hartunian and Brunner.
“Today, we will share our fond memories of Colleen and Lynne. We will remember, we will laugh and we will probably shed a tear,” he affirmed. “But, we will keep their memories alive by our sharing here today and living out the lessons they taught us, to go bravely out into the world, to share our culture and learn about others and to love life.”
Lynne Hartunian ’89 and Colleen Brunner ’90 were among the 258 passengers aboard the international flight when it went down Dec. 21, 1988, en route from London to New York. They were traveling home from a school-sponsored study-abroad trip to London.
Both were communication majors and members of Alpha Sigma Chi sorority. Brunner worked in the Admissions Office and Hartunian was a teaching assistant for the late Professor Emeritus I. David Glick.