Thatcher Spurns Revenge in Jet Bombing
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher distanced herself on Sunday from U.S. vows to punish whoever planted the bomb that destroyed Pan Am Flight 103.
“I don’t think an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth is ever valid,” she said in a wide-ranging New Year’s television interview.
“The most important thing to do is to try to get the cooperation of all nations to track these people down so that they are brought to justice,” she said on the “David Frost on Sunday” program.
The danger of revenge, she said, is that “it can affect innocent people.”
President Reagan said in his weekly radio broadcast Saturday that the United States would punish those responsible for the bomb, which brought the Boeing 747 down in southern Scotland, killing all 259 people on board and at least 11 on the ground.
Reagan said a report overseen by President-elect George Bush advocating possible military action against terrorists “ought to be giving some people sleepless nights” in the wake of the Dec. 21 bombing. He did not elaborate.
‘Seek Hard, Punish Firmly’
Bush vowed last week to “seek hard and punish firmly, decisively, those who did this, if you could ever find them.”
Thatcher allowed Reagan to use U.S. bombers based in Britain to bomb Libya in 1986 in retaliation for alleged Libyan involvement in international terrorism.
She said Sunday that no country should grant the Pan Am terrorists safe haven or permit them to escape justice.
“I think public opinion is disgusted with nations that will not try to track down terrorists, absolutely disgusted.”
U.S. officials say no group has offered a credible claim of responsibility for the attack. Speculation on suspects has focused mostly on Palestinian extremists and pro-Iranian Shia Muslims.
Searchers in Lockerbie, Scotland, gave up their traditional New Year’s celebrations Sunday to continue the hunt for bodies and wreckage.
Police said that one more body, thought to be one of the missing local residents, was recovered, bringing the total to 242.
Only 35 have been identified and released to relatives for burial. Capt. Bruce Smith, a Pan Am pilot whose English wife, Ingrid, was killed, was quoted in the Sunday Telegraph as saying the Scottish police were “paralyzed by inexperience and incompetence.”
John Boyd, chief constable of the Dumfries and Galloway police, replied at a news conference: “I am sure no one would thank me for shortcutting any legal or evidential gathering processes which may . . . help to bring the person or persons (responsible) to justice.”
More than 700 people are expected at a memorial service Wednesday in Lockerbie, and 1,000 more will watch on monitor screens in nearby halls.
British newspapers reported Saturday that investigators believe the bomb was smuggled onto the flight in Frankfurt, possibly by a Lebanese-born passenger duped into carrying it. The West German government said no evidence supports those reports.
Flight 103 originated in Frankfurt with a Boeing 727 jet and switched to a Boeing 747 at London’s Heathrow Airport for the trip to New York.
The Sunday Times of London said the bomb was loaded into the airplane’s forward cargo hold next to the electronic nerve center that keeps the jet airborne.