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Lockerbie carnage stays in his mind

FORT WALTON BEACH — Bill Garvie can still remember the smell of the carnage in the Scottish countryside after Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up.

The Fort Walton Beach City Council member was head of the FBI's disaster squad when a bomb brought the plane down on Dec. 21, 1988. For three months, he collected and identified body parts recovered from lakes, a golf course, farms and woods surrounding Lockerbie, Scotland.

"They were scattered miles and miles," he said.

The bombing killed all 259 people on board the airplane and 11 people on the ground in Britain's worst terrorist attack.

The only man convicted of the bombing was freed from a Scottish prison Thursday. Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds because he has prostate cancer and was given only months to live by British doctors. He received an elaborate homecoming Friday in Libya.

"There were 259 people on that plane," Garvie said. "I don't believe that at the end of his life he should be allowed to go home and be a hero."

FBI director Robert Mueller sent a scathing letter to Scotland's justice minister, condemning al-Megrahi's release, and President Barack Obama called his homecoming ceremony highly objectionable.

Garvie worked in a warehouse where evidence was collected, autopsies were performed and the jumbo jet was reconstructed.

He said a local ice rink was used as a makeshift morgue because no other facilities were big enough.

"We had thousands of people around the world helping with this investigation," Garvie said. "It was the major terrorist incident in the world at that time, and I can remember having parents of some of the children that were killed coming to help us and wanting to get involved."'

Garvie added, "This man probably would have been executed in the United States."

Lockerbie carnage stays in his mind 08/22/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 22, 2009 11:58pm]
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