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Healing the victims of Lockerbie

August 23, 2009

As is often the case the views of the victims vary. Some
victims like Kara Weipz of New Jersey, whose 20 year old brother Richard Monetti
died on Flight 103, are shocked by the decision. Weipz called it an insult and
“utterly disgusting”. Weipz said, “I don’t show compassion for someone who
showed no remorse.” Some victims including Jim Swire, whose
daughter was killed, thought the decision a right one since he  believes
Megrahi had been wrongly convicted. Others questioned why
Megrahi would be released and returned to Libya, where already he is receiving a
hero’s welcome.  No matter how you view this very
difficult case we can all look at the victim’s families and ask what kind
of relief did they receive after losing their loved ones to this terrorist
jetliner bombing?  Little is known of this.

It is clear that in a justice system based on restorative
justice principles offender accountability would be necessary. That would the
offender would take personal responsibility for his crimes, often
expressed through remorse and expressing that to the victims. In this case apparently Megrahi did not show remorse, at least
during the sentencing phase. The possibility that the offender could be
wrongfully convicted is still a factor. Victim Jim
Swine and others have criticized the British government for
allowing Megrahi to abandon his appeal for his conviction. The chance
that the wrong offender was convicted, especially given only one individual was
convicted, complicates matters greatly especially for the

In the work that I have done with victims
of violent crime it is most painful for victims to heal or move on
with their lives if  no offender is apprehended for the crime. It’s no
wonder. Who do you blame?

Victims have questions they want (need) to ask after violent
crime. With no offender then no questions can be asked and no answers given.
This is why victim offender dialogue is so important as an example of 
the restorative justice process. Victim offender dialogue programs
are increasingly used successfully with victims of violent crime.
From these one-on-one meetings, often facilitated by a trained mediator,
crime victims experience some kind of healing. Considering this case no
wonder the pain is so deep and raw. It makes no difference how long ago violent
crime occurred, in this case 21 years ago, the pain is still fresh. Without
accountability by the offender, or offenders, moving on is very hard to


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