The mystery surrounding the Pan Am flight 103 disaster of Lockerbie in Scotland took years to solve. Investigators had to travel thousands of miles and transverse about 20 countries in search of necessary evidence. The conclusion made from the Pan Am flight 103 air crash investigation implicated Libyans with the terrorist act that claimed the lives of 259 inside the plane and 11 on the ground.
Experts concluded that at the time of the explosion, the plane must have been traveling at a height of 31,000 feet. Libya took the blame for the act which was termed at terrorism. The debris was reassembled in a warehouse to establish the cause of this disaster. It is considered the worst attack in the history of American aviation. A lot of media attention was focused on every small detail of these investigations.
Investigators spent years collecting evidence and piecing it together before concluding that Libyans were involved. The two suspects were Baset Abdel and Khalifa Al-Amin. The judge concluded that Khalifa was not culpable according to the evidence presented and therefore set him free. The government of Libya was ordered to pay a total of 2.7 billion dollars as compensation because the blame lay on Abdel Baset who was sentenced to death.
Investigations were led by UK Air Accident Investigation Branch. This is the body responsible for accidents within the UK air space. Over 4 million pieces of debris were gathered in the course of investigations. The debris was scattered over 2000 square kilometers. Computers were used in simulation and labeling of parts collected as evidence.
Claims that terrorists were involved shifted the focus of investigating teams. The chemical compounds that were found on site included RDX and PETN. The type of explosion witnessed was said to be Semtex. The teams involved in these investigations included FBI, local police and Scotland Yard. Frankfurt was suspected to be the loading port for the bomb.
American interest into the investigations was heightened by the number of Americans who died in the disaster. Of the 270 who perished, 189 were Americans. This was the worst attack on her citizens and would only be overtaken by the 9/11 attack years later. Evidence presented during investigations was collected from about 15,000 people with 180,000 pieces being presented as exhibits. 3,500 photos were taken on the scene. It is considered the most expensive inquiry in the history of aviation.
The total expenditure during investigations totaled over 60 million dollars. The trial was another record with more than 230 witnesses being summoned to testify in proceedings that lasted 89 days. The transcripts for this trial went up to 10,000 pages and more. Libya denied the accusation that it sanctioned, planned and financed the attack. They claimed that political convenience had led authorities to lay the blame on them. This allowed the theory that Palestinians were responsible instead under the direction of Iran.
The possibility that Iran was responsible was heightened by the fact that they had a long standing conflict with American. American had grounded an Iranian plane which killed to 290 Iranians on board in the Persian Gulf. It took international sanctions to compel Libya into accepting responsibility. The politics surrounding the disaster makes it difficult to know the truth.
Read more about Pan Am Flight 103 Air Crash Investigation Findings.