Families gather in Washington to resolve Pan Am claims against Libya
WASHINGTON – It’s been 20 years since Kara Weipz lost her brother, Rick Monetti, a Syracuse University junior, when terrorists bombed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Memories flooded back when the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series this year. The last time the Phillies won in 1980, she celebrated with her brother. This year, the 35-year-old, now spokesperson for the group Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, celebrated with her 8-year-old son – who will never meet his uncle.
Weipz and other family members gathered in the U.S. Capitol with Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., to announce the final resolution of claims against the Libyan government’s role in the attack.
‘The families of the Pan Am 103 bombing victims have waited 20 years for Libya to pay for its deadly acts of violence,’ Lautenberg said. ‘I am pleased that our relentless pressure and support for terror victims has led to this historic moment.’
The resolution wraps up the ongoing fight of Lockerbie family members for a settlement. In July, Congress passed the Libya Claims Resolution Act, through which Libya settled all outstanding claims to U.S. victims of Libyan terror, including the 270 killed in the Dec. 21, 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The bill followed months of negotiation between the George W. Bush administration and the Libyan government.
In 2003, Libya agreed to pay $2.7 billion – $10 million per Pan Am 103 victim – to the families. By 2008, it had still not paid the final 20 percent of that amount.
Libya deposited its final payment Oct. 31. In return, outstanding Libyan terrorist cases that occurred before the U.S were dropped.
Weipz said the resolution is a relief for her family.
‘It’s one door we can close,’ she said. ‘It’s a relief that we have held them 100 percent accountable.’
Carole and Glenn Johnson said that the settlement was far-reaching. Their daughter, Beth Ann, a 21-year-old Seton Hill University student studying with SU’s abroad program, was among the victims.
In 1988, the prospect of a foreign country paying retributions for actions of a terrorist group was unprecedented. Now, they said, any family members of future terrorist victims have a blueprint to follow when seeking justice from Washington, D.C. and foreign governments.
‘You can have some justice. You now have a means of trying to find out what happened,’ Carole Johnson said.
The Johnsons have used some of their settlement to help build a new library in their hometown of Greensburg, Pa., also home to Seton Hill. They said it was what their daughter would have wanted.
‘Whenever something good happens, I say, ‘Thanks Beth,” Carole Johnson said.
Rick Monetti’s mother, Eileen Monetti, said the resolution resulted from years of work. She said that, during the last several years, SU has made a concerted effort to keep families in the loop and recognized that the tragedy extends far beyond the 35 students lost.
Rick’s journal was recovered from the debris on the scene. His mother still remembers one of its passages.
‘It said, ‘Don’t ever give up,’ and we have not,’ she said.
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